We have placed cookies on your computer to help make this website better. You can change your cookies settings at any time. Otherwise we will assume you are ok to continue. Click here for more info

National Geographic ChannelNat Geo Wild


In America today, as many as 80,000 convicts are serving their time in solitary confinement but is it a necessary last resort, or an unacceptable and outdated form of psychological torture? In a groundbreaking attempt to find out, the Colorado Department of Correction is conducting a year-long study of the inmates at Colorado State Penitentiary - all 756 of whom spend 23 hours a day completely alone.

This thought-provoking and harrowing show introduces you to some of CSP's longest-serving inmates, many of whom have been diagnosed with serious mental illness. The big question is whether their conditions have been exacerbated, or even caused, by the immense strain of being shut off from human contact for years at a time. Indeed, historical evidence suggests that inmates kept in these conditions are more likely to go mad than reform, an assertion backed up by modern science. Studies into the effects of loneliness have demonstrated an impairment of people's ability to control even their basic impulses.

Follow the evidence in the UK premiere of Solitary Confinement: Tough Justice on Monday 10 January at 9pm and you decide if this form of punishment is a step too far.


  • Solitary Confinement: Tough Justice: Episode 1
    A scientific look at what happens to human beings who are in isolation – whether by chance, by choice or by force.



  • Alone photo


    Alone in a cell for days, or decades - find out how solitary confinement affects human beings.

  • All Videos