|The US does not keep data on the number of inmates in solitary confinement [GALLO/GETTY]|
In fact, the accused Wikileaker, now in his tenth month of solitary confinement, is far from alone in his plight. Every day in the US, tens of thousands of prisoners languish in "the hole".
A few of them are prison murderers or rapists who present a threat to others. Far more have committed minor disciplinary infractions within prison or otherwise run afoul of corrections staff. Many of them suffer from mental illness, and are isolated for want of needed treatment; others are children, segregated for their own "protection"; a growing number are elderly and have spent half their lives or more in utter solitude.
No one knows for sure what their true numbers are. Many states, as well as the federal government, flatly declare that solitary confinement does not exist in their prison systems. As for their euphemistically named "Secure Housing Units" or "Special Management Units", most states do not report occupancy data, nor do wardens report on the inmates sent to "administrative segregation".