Solitary confinement means tiny, windowless cages. Filthy, cold and barren cages. No wonder that people held in solitary suffer grave physical, psychological and emotional trauma.
The United Nations has stated unequivocally that solitary confinement over 15 days is torture. But in Illinois, thousands of people are held in extreme isolation for weeks, months, years, even decades for minor infractions.
We have a chance to restrict the use of solitary confinement in Illinois. The Illinois House will vote on the landmark Isolated Confinement Restriction Act (HB 5417) in the coming days.
The Isolated Confinement Restriction Act (HB5417) would:
- Limit solitary confinement to a maximum of five days in any 150 day period.
- Use solitary only when absolutely necessary, when there is reasonable cause to believe that the prisoner has a substantial risk of serious harm to himself or another, and a less-restrictive intervention would be insufficient.
- Not use solitary against persons with disabilities, serious medical conditions, pregnancy, and people under 21 or over 55 years old.
- Require that the prisoner held in emergency confinement would receive an initial medical and mental health evaluation within 24 hours.
- Require documentation by facility administrators when facility-wide lockdowns are necessary for more than 24 hours about why less-restrictive interventions are insufficient.
- Require that the prisoner receive an initial hearing within 72 hours of placement and a review every 2 days thereafter, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, unavoidable delays, or reasonable postponements.
Thanks to the people at the Uptown People’s Law Center in Chicago for this information.
Read more here.