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Indiana Becomes Latest State To Adopt Solitary Confinement Reforms

Indiana this week became the latest state to curb the use in prisons of solitary confinement, which a Washington Post editorial calls “an extreme, hellish and overused punishment.” The newspaper calls Indiana’s move “another sign of progress in ending a national scandal: the routine overuse of a practice that is akin to torture.” It took a class-action lawsuit to prompt the decision, and even then it promises insufficient change, says the Post. The case against Indiana's Department of Correction centered […]

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Obama Stance Against Juvenile Solitary Could Prompt Action In States

A new ban on solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prison could bring momentum to reform efforts in states, says the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange. President Obama announced the ban and other prison reforms Monday, saying he hoped the policies would be a model for state and local corrections systems. Jenny Lutz of the Center for Children’s Law and Policy, which is helping to organize a national campaign against youth solitary, said Obama’s action may be “a springboard for people […]

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Obama Limits Solitary In Federal Prisons, Bans Practice For Juveniles

President Obama announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences, the Washington Post reports. In an op-ed in today’s editions of the Post, the president outlines a series of executive actions that also prohibit federal corrections officials from punishing prisoners who commit “low-level infractions” with solitary confinement. The new rules also call for expanding treatment for mentally ill prisoners. While the […]

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Amid State Reforms Of Solitary, National Group Changes Standards

As states rethink the use of solitary confinement to punish unruly inmates, a prisons oversight group is reshaping national accreditation standards to reduce such procedures, reports the Associated Press. Proposals range from mandatory health care visits and mental illness treatment for inmates in segregation to more time out of cells for recreation and education. “The punishment that we give to Americans is deprivation of their liberty, but it doesn’t mean that we try to punish them more while their liberty […]

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Changing the Rules for Solitary

A “roadmap” for transforming the use of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons should begin with agreement that inmates should be confined for “the least amount of time necessary” and only when it is necessary to protect themselves or others, a colloquium of top corrections officials, academic experts and advocates has recommended. “The use of social isolation is greater than it has to be, in large measure because prisons have been called upon to do things they were never intended to […]

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How Michigan Prison Led The Way In Reducing Solitary Confinement

Over 25 meetings, staff members of Michigan’s Alger prison devised a system of six “stages” that inmates could pass through on their way from solitary to a lower-security status, says The Marshall Project. On the way, there would be perks: At one stage, they would get recreation equipment, like a basketball, during their hour per day out of the cell. Later, they would be able to have a television in their cells. Most importantly, they would be able to call […]

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NY Agrees To Cut Inmate Numbers In Solitary, Improve Conditions

New York state today agreed to a major overhaul in the way solitary confinement is administered in its prisons, with the goal of significantly reducing the number of inmates held in isolation, cutting the maximum length of stay and improving their living conditions, the New York Times reports. The five-year, $62 million agreement resulted from a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union over the abusive treatment of inmates in solitary. For 23 hours a day, 4,000 inmates […]

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'Every Day, We Get A Little Better'

Owing to damage to his frontal lobe when he was born, Jeremy Anthony, 38, has virtually no control over his sexual impulses. As a result, since his imprisonment in 1997 for the attempted rape of a Pittsburgh, PA woman, Anthony has violated the rules of Pennsylvania’s state prison system 77 times, almost entirely for compulsive masturbation. His punishment inside the system, more often than not, has consisted of solitary confinement. Marcia Franklin, his mother, calculates that Anthony has spent more […]

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All Nine Texas Inmates Tracked After 2002 Release Have Returned To Prison

Since 2002, USA Today has been tracking nine Texas offenders released on one day, all of whom spent prolonged periods in isolation, either as punishment for misconduct in prison or for their association with criminal gangs. The nine have all returned at least once, and some many times. Some describe a type of sensory paralysis that seemed to overwhelm them once they were finally free, a troubling consequence of the most extreme condition of confinement that has recently drawn the […]