The use of solitary confinement has reached a watershed moment in the U.S., reports the Washington Post. Most experts agree that the hardships placed on thousands of isolated prisoners, some of whom are mentally ill, push them to a dangerous place. President Obama, citing the “devastating, lasting psychological consequences” solitary confinement can inflict, announced a ban last week on isolating juveniles in federal prisons and reduced the maximum number of days federal inmates can be isolated for a first offense from 365 days to 60.
The reforms do nothing to change the circumstances of the vast majority of the nation's isolated inmates. Roughly 90 percent of them are held at state and county facilities The Post tells the story of Kevin Bushrod Jr., who in November 2014, didn't understand why he was isolated. A Washington, D.C., cop had pulled him over for driving on a suspended license. He tried to escape. The cop shot him in the left shoulder. Bushrod, a former top athlete at a Bible college, was charged with assault on an officer while armed; the car was the weapon. Now, he faced months in prison in a cell the size of a ping-pong table with little beyond a steel toilet and sink. He tried to hang himself with a sheet. Solitary confinement “is a needed tool within correctional management,” said Thomas Faust, director of the D.C. Department of Corrections. “And within my opinion, it's a tool that corrections have to have. However, I think that we need to do a better job of it.”