Solitary confinement is a type of punishment that exists within the penitentiary system to punish unruly inmates or prisoners. This kind of punishment involves excluding the accused inmate from contact with any other people for the exception of the prison staff. Solitary confinement uses the concept of incommunicado as way to punish inmates, though in some cases, solitary confinement is done in the context of protection of inmates as well. Solitary confinement is often referred to as the hole or lockdown by prisoners or inmates.
Solitary confinement is often the source of criticism for many believe that it is cruel and unusual punishment because it can be viewed as a type of psychological torture. Usually, solitary confinement will entail a prisoner being held in a cell where only a toilet is available and there is very little freedom of movement. Solitary confinement cells may tend to be somewhat smaller than cells found in the general population, and may not have any kind of lighting source in some case.
However, when solitary confinement is done for protective custody purposes, the environment in which such a prisoner may be kept may not be as harsh. Types of prisoners that may be kept in incommunicado may include celebrities, witnesses, and those that are at high risk to be attacked by other inmates such as pedophiles.