WASHINGTON — Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.) introduced the Solitary Confinement Reform Act, which would require federal prisons to ensure that any period in solitary is as brief as possible and under the least restrictive conditions possible. It would also mandate that prisoners in solitary spend at least four hours per day outside their cells, have access to rehabilitative and educational programs, and be permitted to interact with other people in addition to other reforms. The legislation would protect youth, people with mental and physical disabilities, LGBT people, pregnant women, and other vulnerable populations from the harms of solitary confinement.
Amy Fettig, deputy director of the National Prison Project at the American Civil Liberties Union, had this reaction:
“Our federal prison system needs the Solitary Confinement Reform Act — and the rest of our country’s jails and prisons should follow suit. This legislation would go far in reducing the permanent and preventable damage solitary causes to prisoners’ mental health, their rehabilitation, and their chances of success when they reenter society.”
For information about the ACLU’s Stop Solitary campaign: