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

From prison isolation to uncertainty
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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