Readers React: Solitary confinement is not a humane alternative to the death penalty

The Secure Housing Units at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, Calif., in 2013.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: A reader wrote a letter regarding her opposition to capital punishment. While I agree with her assessment, I was astonished to find that she advocates solitary confinement for life in lieu of execution, with no amenities at all.

Certainly this is less bloodthirsty than putting a person to death, but such punishment dooms the prisoner to the agony of a slow descent into insanity. Is that more humane than capital punishment?

Please read the introduction in Lisa Guenther’s book, “Solitary Confinement: Social Death and its Afterlives,” to come to an understanding of what happens to prisoners completely separated from human contact.

Anneke Mendiola, Santa Ana


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