Writing in the Washington Post, President Obama has announced a ban on the use of solitary confinement for juveniles and as a punishment for low-level infractions.
Last summer, the president ordered Attorney General Loretta Lynch to conduct a review of solitary confinement’s overuse in U.S. prisons. The report is now complete and has been released to the public.
The president writes that he will adopt its recommendations:
These include banning solitary confinement for juveniles and as a response to low-level infractions, expanding treatment for the mentally ill and increasing the amount of time inmates in solitary can spend outside of their cells. These steps will affect some 10,000 federal prisoners held in solitary confinement—and hopefully serve as a model for state and local corrections systems. And I will direct all relevant federal agencies to review these principles and report back to me with a plan to address their use of solitary confinement.
The report also includes 50 “guiding principles” that federal prisons must now follow.
The Bureau of Prisons, Amy Fettig, director of the ACLU’s “Stop Solitary” campaign, told the Post, “has lagged behind a number of the states in reforming solitary confinement and in restricting its use and abuse.”
The ban is “absolutely huge,” she said. “We rarely have presidents take notice of prison conditions.”