Saturday, June 12, 2021

Task Force issues report showing the way to ending solitary confinement

The Federal Anti-Solitary Taskforce (FAST) released its Blueprint for Ending Solitary Confinement on Monday, detailing how the government can end solitary confinement of inmates in federal custody through executive, administrative and legislative action, reported Jurist.

On any given day, more than 10,000 people are in a form of solitary confinement in federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) facilities, with people of color, transgender people, and people with mental health needs disproportionately represented in this figure.

FAST’s Blueprint calls for four forms of government action. First, it asks that all forms of solitary confinement of inmates in federal custody be abandoned. This is subject to exceptions, including short lock-ins for the purpose of de-escalation and medical quarantine. Second, it requires that there be alternatives to solitary confinement, which must involve at least 14 hours per day out of the cell, with 7 hours of meaningful activities. Third, due process protections must be enhanced through the utilization of neutral decision-makers. Fourth, oversight and enforcement mechanisms should be implemented.

FAST is a coalition of 130 advocacy organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Tammie Gregg, the director of the ACLU’s Stop Solitary Campaign, supported the Blueprint, explaining:

the debilitating, dehumanizing, and even deadly effects [of solitary confinement] on incarcerated people are an ongoing stain on the American legal system. We strongly believe that the reforms outlined in this Blueprint will go a long way towards eradicating much of the senseless and counterproductive harm that has been caused.

In addition to the Blueprint, the ACLU and more than 130 other organizations signed a letter on last week to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris calling for the administration to end the use of solitary confinement. Biden and Harris committed to stopping the use of solitary confinement during the 2020 campaign. Moreover, states are restricting the use of solitary confinement. In 2021, 70 pieces of legislation have been filed in 32 states.

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