The NJ governor said the state corrections department already is limiting prisoner isolation. He called the legislation that would have limited solitary to 15 consecutive days or 20 days over two months an “ill-informed, politically motivated press release.”
Serving time in isolation makes the already-difficult task of re-entering society harder, one possible reason why studies show recidivism is high for those former inmates. “You get prodded and then they let you into society,” says ex-Minnesota prisoner John Turnipseed, who calls it “an inhumane practice.”
As many states cut back on solitary confinement, it still is frequently ordered in Minnesota prisons. Corrections official Terry Carlson says it is justified for those who “seriously assault” a staff member or kill another offender.
If Gov. Chris Christie signs a bill limiting solitary confinement, New Jersey will join at least a dozen other states that have taken similar actions. State Sen. Raymond Lesniak, who urged the change, says solitary causes “mental illness, bitterness, and anger.”
New York City will no longer send youths 21 and under to solitary confinement. A former prison health care provider says it’s time to apply such an approach nationwide–and for professional associations of social workers and psychologists to put their clout behind efforts to toss this “inhumane” practice into the dustbins of history.