Ending Long-term Solitary in Colorado Prisons

The State of Colorado did away with the use of long-term solitary confinement in its prisons in 2017, limiting its use to 15 days at a time. This limitation follows the international human rights standards from the United Nations’ Nelson Mandela Rules, which prohibit holding anyone in solitary confinement for over 15 days because it can be torture.

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Colorado is the only state to make such reforms to its use of solitary. Across the rest of the country, Departments of Correction are using extreme isolation of prisoners as a “management tool,” but its use is not corrective at all. In fact, solitary confinement is too often used as indiscriminate punishment for minor offenses or as a convenient place to lock down vulnerable people such as youth, pregnant women, and people with mental illness.  But this “management tool” damages people – sometimes beyond repair.

Long-term solitary confinement hurts people and does not make our prisons or our communities safer. No more excuses. It’s time to end the use of long-term solitary confinement nationwide. 

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