Seven Days in Solitary [3/2/22]

Our Weekly Roundup of News and Views on Solitary Confinement

by | March 2, 2022

 A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee voted to amend legislation that would have limited solitary confinement to 15 days to instead require that prison officials study the issue, reports the Virginia Mercury. One of the bill’s advocates, Delegate Patrick Hope, stated, “I don’t want a study, but the alternative was that this bill was going to be defeated.” The Department of Corrections claims not to use solitary confinement but incarcerated people and advocates for reform say that even what is billed as out-of-cell recreation time takes place in a different cage.

 City and State reports on a study from Science Advances about the link between race and the use of solitary confinement in Pennsylvania prisons. Chair of the General Assembly’s Legislative Black Caucus Donna Bullock stated, ​​“If you are using solitary confinement as a tool in those prison populations, that means that [Black and brown men] are overrepresented.” Bullock has introduced a bill to limit isolation to 15 days, and ban solitary among vulnerable populations.

 An opinion piece for the Orlando Sentinel promotes legislation in Florida that would ban the use of solitary confinement for youth in prison, noting that, “Children in Florida who are serving sentences as adults are placed in confinement and isolated for 20 or more hours a day.” Recently introduced House Bill 765 and Senate Bill 1934 in the Florida House and Senate would place limitations on the length of solitary for children.

 Knock LA reports on the lack of protection in California prisons during the Omicron wave of COVID-19, describing little guidance for incarcerated people who test positive and a dangerous delay in care, as well as “arbitrary use of solitary confinement over quarantine.” In addition to a lack of preparedness for the wave, those incarcerated in many California facilities are cut off from their families, with no video-chatting options and a limit of 10 minutes of call-time on very few functioning phones.

 Crosscut reports that after receiving testimony on January 13th from people who had spent time in segregation, Washington state legislators have proposed a bill that would limit the circumstances under which, and length of stay, a person may be housed in isolation. The DOC has proposed a different, less transformative bill, which would continue the practice of placement in solitary for extended periods.

 Reverend Allie Perry wrote an opinion piece in the New Haven Register in support of a new version of Connecticut’s PROTECT Act to limit solitary confinement. She says, “Scripture exhorts us to “remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured’… ‘Remember’ means acting on our faith: standing against human rights abuse in our state prisons and advocating for humane alternatives.”

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