President Obama Moves to Ban Solitary Confinement for Juveniles in Fed Prisons

Juvenile in Solitary Steve MillerAP
Steve Miller/AP

Writing in the Washington Post, President Obama promises to ban the use of solitary confinement for juvenile and low-level offenders in federal prisons and urges Americans to reconsider the method that “triggers depression” among inmates.

“It has been linked to depression, alienation, withdrawal, a reduced ability to interact with others and the potential for violent behavior,” Obama wrote in the op-ed. “Some studies indicate that it can worsen existing mental illnesses and even trigger new ones. Prisoners in solitary are more likely to commit suicide, especially juveniles and people with mental illnesses.”

Last summer, Obama’s Justice Department reviewed the use of solitary confinement, among other practices, and issued several recommendations to decrease the use of methods like solitary confinement to punish unruly federal inmates.

“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,” Obama wrote.

Obama’s plan to ban solitary confinement is part of his administration’s ongoing prison overhaul. Last October, the Federal Communications Commission approved a plan “Ensuring Just, Reasonable, & Fair Rates for Inmate Calling” and would place a cap on the amount of money that communications companies charge convicts to make phone calls in jails and prisons across the country.

Last Fall, President Obama’s Department of Justice announced its plan to grant the early release of about 6,000 convicts from prison—making it the largest scheduled release of federal prisoners in American history.

Follow Jerome Hudson on Twitter @jeromeehudson.


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