This week, President Obama took action to reform solitary confinement in America’s prisons. He banned the punishment from being used on juvenile offenders and reduced the time a first-time offender can be committed to solitary confinement from a maximum of365 days to 60 days.
Here is a highlight of what the President said in the Washington Post. You can read the full op-ed here.
Research suggests that solitary confinement has the potential to lead to devastating, lasting psychological consequences. It has been linked to depression, alienation, withdrawal, a reduced ability to interact with others and the potential for violent behavior. 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.
The United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance. Those who do make it out often have trouble holding down jobs, reuniting with family and becoming productive members of society. Imagine having served your time and then being unable to hand change over to a customer or look your wife in the eye or hug your children.