TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — Treatment of prisoners is an issue that’s been raised in Florida before.

The Florida Department of Corrections is being sued over its use of solitary confinement in a complaint that alleges the state’s isolation techniques are cruel and can cause permanent damage.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center filed its suit Wednesday in the U.S. District Court in Tallahassee.

It claims Florida uses solitary confinement at twice the national average rate and sometimes isolates prisoners from human contact for years.

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Corrections spokeswoman Michelle Glady said in an email that the department uses “close management” practices only “when absolutely necessary to ensure the safe and secure operation of our institutions.”

But the lawsuit contends the punishment is often used for minor, nonviolent infractions and that 10 percent of the prison population is managed through solitary confinement.

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