It seems, these days, that no one who ends up in the criminal justice system is safe from the scourge of a stint in solitary confinement ? no matter how minor their crime or how young, old, sick, frail or otherwise vulnerable they may be. What was once supposed to be a last resort punishment for violent and dangerous prisoners now seems to be dished out indiscriminately, to anyone from troubled youths to aging grandmothers. A recent case involving one such grandmother, who was kept for nearly five weeks in solitary confinement in a privately run prison, should prompt lawmakers to review how the punishment is dispensed and whether its widespread use serves the public interest.
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