RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Activists are calling on North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper to end solitary confinement in the state. It’s something they say strips people of their humanity.

“Solitary confinement, we look at, as torture because of the fact that people are isolated from one another, from human to human contact, isolated from outside light,” Dr. Craig Waleed said.

June 26 marks the United Nations’ International Day Against Torture, and activists in Raleigh spent the day calling on action from the governor.

“Being alone oftentimes causes your mind to play tricks on you, as you know we’re social creatures, so we add meaning to our lives based on how we interact with each other,” he said.

Activists say thousands of North Carolinians are impacted by it.

“Close to 3,000 men and women on any given day are in solitary confinement in North Carolina prisons,” Dr. Waleed explained.

Speakers also touched on the intersection of punishment and religion, and how some groups, including Muslim communities, can be demonized or stereotyped.

“Because of these constructions, the state is able to legitimize and justify its perpetual violence against this community,” Dr. Maha Halil said.

For Dr. Waleed, the topic is personal.

“I spent eight years in New York state prisons, I spent two 30-day terms inside solitary confinement, and I saw and felt the impact of solitary confinement,” he said.

Speaking from his own experience, Dr. Waleed says while some consider solitary confinement a just punishment, he thinks it shouldn’t be used.

“Even if somebody is guilty of committing a crime, I think that solitary confinement serves to dehumanize people and it does not pay attention to the individual humanity,” Dr. Waleed said.