The role of Israeli judges in authorising solitary confinement placements: Balancing human rights and risk, or neutralising responsibility?

Netanel Dagan, Sharon Shalev*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper explores the role of judges in authorising the extension of placements in solitary confinement in Israeli prisons for lengthy periods of time. It qualitatively examines, through content analysis of 354 Israeli court decisions, how judges negotiate and rationalise the harmful effects of solitary confinement when balanced against the prison authorities’ reasoning for subjecting prisoners to it. Finding an overall tendency to defer to the expertise of prison authorities, we examine what Sykes & Matza termed ‘techniques of neutralisation’ used by judges to distance themselves from the responsibility for solitary confinement placements and the hardship they inflict. The paper further discusses the socio-legal and organisational structures and contexts which incentivise the prioritisation of prison security/discipline over the protection of prisoners from the ‘pains of solitary confinement’.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)181-201
Number of pages21
JournalPunishment and Society
Volume25
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021.

Keywords

  • Stanley Cohen
  • Sykes and Matza
  • courts
  • human rights
  • pains of imprisonment
  • prison health
  • prisons
  • security
  • solitary confinement
  • techniques of neutralisation

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