MCLU Supports Restrictions on Solitary Confinement

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
February 17, 2010 12:00 am

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Testifies in Support of LD 1611


Today, the Maine Civil Liberties Union will lend its support to a bill that seeks to ensure humane treatment for inmates at the Maine State Prison. The MCLU will testify in support of LD 1611: An Act to Ensure Humane Treatment for Special Management Prisoners, in a public hearing before the Maine Legislature’s Joint Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety. The hearing is scheduled for 1:00 pm, in Room 436 at the State House.

The following can be attributed to Alysia Melnick, Public Policy Counsel for the Maine Civil Liberties Union (MCLU):

“The legislature ought to support this bill because of the growing understanding that prolonged solitary confinement is torture. That isn’t just our opinion—it is the conclusion of psychologists and psychiatrists, international treaties, religious leaders, and former prisoners of war including John McCain.”

“Placing inmates with serious mental illness in solitary confinement violates the 8th Amendment prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment. The negative mental health effects of isolation are undisputed and serious even for otherwise healthy people. But for those with mental illness, the isolation is so likely to cause serious psychological pain and suffering that it is in clear violation of the Constitution.”

“We understand change is hard, but change is both possible and necessary. Solitary confinement has been overused and abused in Maine, and LD 1611 will impose some necessary check on mistreatment.”

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