TORTURE: Historic steps on the road to stop solitary confinement

from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture

full_logo_TESRecently the Department of Justice released the Report and Recommendations Concerning the Use of Restrictive Housing, which includes more than fifty “Guiding Principles” for addressing the use of solitary confinement within all correctional systems in the U.S., as well as new policies for the federal prison system.

TAKE ACTION: Thank Attorney General Loretta Lynch

These new federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) policies include a ban on placing youth in solitary confinement, a ban on using restrictive housing to punish low level offenses, diversion programs for LGBT incarcerated people in protective custody, and increased access to treatment for individuals with serious mental illness.  For the first time, the BOP will be required to post monthly data regarding its use of restricted housing system-wide.

Describing solitary as “an affront to our common humanity,” in a Washington Post op-ed, President Obama announced swift adoption of these guidelines.

We invite you to join us in thanking Attorney General Loretta Lynch for taking these critical steps NRCAT has prepared a model email for you to write AG Lynch.

This is a moment to celebrate and also to recommit to efforts to end the torture of prolonged solitary confinement, without exception.

We invite you to share the NRCAT Press Release about these historic advances.

Following President Obama’s July 2015 announcement that the Department of Justice would conduct a national review of the use of solitary confinement, NRCAT joined more than 100 organizations in sending a letter to the President calling on the administration to ensure that such a review would lead to concrete recommendations to eliminate long-term isolation in U.S. prisons and jails.  Though these new guiding principles fall short of outlining a clear path to ending prolonged solitary confinement, we are confident that these guidelines promote critically needed steps on the road toward the elimination of this torture, urgently needed relief for thousands, and standards that will continue to bolster efforts from coast to coast to stop solitary.

We grieve with the families of those like Kalief Browder, whose lives have been devastated by the loss of loved ones as a result of this travesty impacting more than 100,000 held in conditions of isolation on any given day.  We know that youth of color are far more likely to face the horrors Kalief Browder faced – unjust and unnecessary solitary confinement – and we must address the drivers of these inequalities and disparities: race, poverty, and mental disability, at every level of our criminal justice system. These new guidelines are critical in order to confront the damage done to far too many in our communities.

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