Home of America's Cruelest Prisons: Arizona Amnesty International report cites state's overuse of solitary confinement By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff Posted Apr 3, 2012 10:11 AM CDT Updated Apr 7, 2012 7:00 PM CDT 85 comments Comments In this Nov. 14, 2009 file photo, an inmate stands at his cell door at the maximum security facility at the Arizona State Prison in Florence, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York, File) (Newser) – Of all the places to commit a crime, you may want to avoid Arizona. Amnesty International today released a report blasting the state's "cruel isolation" practices. It claims that Arizona's state prisons overuse solitary confinement, with prisoners spending as long as 15 years alone in a windowless cell for 22 to 24 hours a day. According to the state's figures, 8% of its prison population is jailed in maximum-security units, most alone. What's more, Amnesty says those figures also reveal that 35% of those 3,130 inmates committed non-violent crimes. The Arizona Republic notes that only 1% of federal inmates and 1% to 3% of most state inmates are subjected to similar conditions. Other damning findings: Amnesty tracked down 14 teens between the ages of 14 to 17 who had been held in isolation. The "special management units" Arizona's inmates are isolated in have lighting on 24 hours a day (it's dimmed at night); inmates generally leave the cell no more than three times a week for two hours to exercise and shower (again, typically in windowless rooms). Anyone sentenced to life is required to spend a minimum of the first two years of their sentence in solitary. According to an ACLU lawsuit, prisoners in solitary tend to wait as long as six to eight months to meet with a psychologist; unlike many other states, Arizona allows mentally ill inmates to be placed in solitary. Amnesty suspects that these conditions are fueling the state's prison suicide rate, which is double the national average; 70% of the most recent suicides were committed by those in solitary.