Architects refusing to design solitary cells

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Amnesty International calls solitary confinement an "affront to human rights" -- but corrections officials defend the practice of isolating inmates, arguing that it's a tool they need to keep both guards and other prisoners safe.

Architect and activist Raphael Sperry says it's time for his profession to side with the human rights watchdogs. He joins guest host Stephen Quinn to explain why he thinks he and his colleagues should refuse to design solitary confinement cells.

"Those pieces of prisons, when used as intended, will violate people's human rights," he said of the small, austere spaces. "That's really not okay."



Sperry's organization -- Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility -- is pushing for an amendment of the American Institute of Architects' Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. They would like the AIA to expressly prohibit "the design of spaces for killing, torture, and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment".

Isolation of inmates rising in Canada


In Canada, the number of prisoners placed in isolation has climbed sharply in the last decade. Through an access to information request, CBC News has learned that 8,221 admissions into segregation were made in 2012 - 2013 -- up from 7,137 in 2003 - 04.

Canada's correctional investigator, Howard Sapers, told CBC News he has "serious concerns" about the overuse of segregation, its impact on vulnerable inmates and ultimately on rehabilitation and public safety.

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