Should federal prisons restrict the use of solitary confinement?
• "Prolonged solitary confinement is one of the true horrors of the modern day penal system. Studies have shown that prolonged solitary confinement can result in paranoia, hallucinations, suicidal ideation, feelings of impending doom, decline in mental functioning, insomnia, nightmares, and many other symptoms related to severe depression and anxiety. Prolonged solitary confinement is nothing short of torture in most cases..." Source: Judge Rosemary S. Pooler (Second Circuit Court of Appeals)
• "Our criminal justice system should be about justice and rehabilitation, not just punishment. Solitary confinement should be a tool of last resort, yet the use of solitary confinement by the federal prison system has increased in recent months, even when evidence clearly demonstrates that this practice frequently fails to achieve its intended goal of improving prison safety or stopping criminal behavior. In fact, widespread overuse of solitary confinement is causing lasting, irreparable harm to many inmates subjected to it." Source: Senator Chris Coons (Democrat, Delaware)
This bill would amend title 18 of the US Code to restrict the use of solitary confinement for incarcerated individuals unless there is reasonable cause to believe that substantial and immediate serious harm to another exists. Every correctional facility must establish standards compliant with this law. Solitary confinement would only be used for disciplinary reasons. An individual placed in solitary confinement would have mental/medical examinations before, right to a hearing within 72 hours of placement with counsel, and daily evaluations by a clinician. Those with medical conditions would be placed in a medical facility instead of solitary confinement. Individuals are not allowed to be in solitary confinement for longer than 15 consecutive days or more than 20 days during a 60 day period. This bill would require administrators to review placement every 15 days and require access to basic necessities such as food and water. Sponsor: Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (Democrat, New Jersey, District 12)
- ACLU pushes Garland on criminal justice reform policies ahead of hearing (The Hill)
- Solitary Confinement Helps Control Prison Gangs (Wall Street Journal)
- As COVID-19 Spreads in Prisons, Lockdowns Spark Fear of More Solitary Confinement (NPR)
- Report calls on Michigan prison system to sharply reduce its use of solitary confinement (Detroit Free Press)