Is Solitary Confinement a Form of Torture?

"Obama says we don't torture, but a lot of this is straight-up torture," says journalism legend James Ridgeway. "We call Guantanamo and Afghanistan torture and we never look at our own stuff."

Ridgeway is talking about the growing use - and abuse - of solitary confinement in American prisons. He estimates there are 80,000 prisoners currently in solitary, many whom are mentally ill and suicidal. One prisoner Ridgeway is following has been in solitary for 40 years and he notes that some lawmakers are proposing life sentences in solitary as a "humane" alternative to the death penalty. Ridgeway and associates report their findings at

Ridgeway is currently a Washington, D.C. correspondent for Mother Jones. He was a longtime correspondent for the Village Voice, and he's best known for uncovering that General Motors hired private detectives to try and defame consumer advocate Ralph Nader back in 1966.

ReasonTV's Nick Gillespie sat down with Ridgeway to talk about the growing use of solitary and what we can do about it.

About 5 minutes.

Shot by Jim Epstein and Tracy Oppenheimer, and edited by Epstein.

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