As various media outlets have reported, on Monday, Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) issued a statement “announcing that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has agreed to a comprehensive and independent assessment of its use of solitary confinement in the nation’s federal prisons.” According to Reuters:
A spokesman from the bureau confirmed that the National Institute of Corrections plans to retain an independent auditor “in the weeks ahead” to examine the use of solitary confinement, which is also known as restrictive housing.[…]
Prisoners in isolation are often confined to small cells without windows for up to 23 hours a day. Durbin’s office said the practice can have a severe psychological impact on inmates and that more than half of all suicides committed in prisons occur in solitary confinement.
The Bureau is the nation’s largest prison system with over 215,000 prisoners, and has been using solitary confinement at an alarmingly high rate. Similar reviews in state prison systems have led to dramatic reductions in solitary confinement, generating millions of dollars in taxpayer savings. We hope and expect that the review announced today will lead the Bureau to significantly curtail its use of this draconian, inhumane, and expensive practice.
I touched on these important issues in a post shortly after starting this blog last summer.