ACLU Hopes Federal Study of Solitary Confinement Leads to Curtailing Practice

February 4, 2013 5:30 pm

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Statement by David Fathi, Director, National Prison Project, American Civil Liberties Union, on the announcement by U.S. Senate Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has agreed to a comprehensive and independent assessment of its use of solitary confinement in the nation’s federal prisons.

“We welcome the news that the Federal Bureau of Prisons will allow a comprehensive and independent review of its use of solitary confinement. The Bureau is the nation’s largest prison system with over 215,000 prisoners, and has been using solitary confinement at an alarmingly high rate. Similar reviews in state prison systems have led to dramatic reductions in solitary confinement, generating millions of dollars in taxpayer savings. We hope and expect that the review announced today will lead the Bureau to significantly curtail its use of this draconian, inhumane, and expensive practice.”

This first-ever review of federal segregation policies comes after Durbin chaired a hearing last year on the human rights, fiscal and public safety consequences of solitary confinement at which the ACLU provided testimony. Last week, Durbin and Bureau of Prisons Director, Charles Samuels, discussed the assessment, which will be conducted through the National Institute of Corrections.

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