In a monumental measure, President Obama has banned the use of solitary confinement among juveniles and low-level offenders.
President Obama outlined the new regulations in an op-ed in Tuesday’s Washington Post. He also stated that prisoners could not be placed in solitary for more than 60 days as punishment for their first offense (currently, the limit is 365 days).
“The United States is a nation of second chances, but the experience of solitary confinement too often undercuts that second chance,” President Obama wrote. “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.”
Per the new guidelines, which are being developed by agency officials, prisoners in solitary confinement will be allowed more time outside of their cell and those in solitary will be placed in the “least restrictive setting necessary.” Additionally, President Obama is pushing for a rule that would prohibit prisoners from being placed in solitary during the last six months of their term.
The new regulations would have enormous effects on the nearly 10,000 prisoners who are currently in solitary confinement.
“How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people?” President Obama wrote. “It doesn’t make us safer. It’s an affront to our common humanity.”