The Senate's Number Two Democrat had called a hearing -- the first of it kind ever to be held by Congress. The audience heard blood-curdling descriptions of endless solitary confinement, lack of food, lack of health care, mental illness, suicide, and -- perhaps worst -- lack of dignity.
As we work overtime to stuff our prisons with low-level, mostly brown-skinned, mostly non-violent inmates, more will become known about the effects of isolation -- on inmate health, public safety and prison budgets.
And prison authorities in some states, even Red ones, may finally understand that the chances of a relatively smooth-running prison do not improve in direct ratio to the cruelty meted out.
The Washington Post story says that, according to lawyers and inmates, some of the state's 40,000 prisoners, including some with mental health issues, have been kept in isolation for years, in one case for 14 years. That's unlikely to produce warm and fuzzy feelings from those who are isolated.
What's totally predictable is that those prisoners are going to be exponentially more frustrated and full of rage -- very bad candidates for better behavior.
Even if their anger is a political asset.
Our lawmakers desperately need to understand some of the paths toward better behavior. If they don't, we'll just go on spending more money and throwing more lives on the landfill of broken lives.