California Places Limits on Solitary Confinement in Prisons

The California Senate has passed a bill that prohibits the use of indefinite solitary confinement in the state’s penitentiaries.

California’s Mandela Act (AB 2632) caps the number of days an inmate can spend in solitary confinement at 45, with no more than 15 of those days allowed to be served in a row.

Pregnant women, individuals with disabilities, juveniles, and the elderly are all protected by the bill’s total ban on solitary confinement.

California Places Limits on Solitary Confinement in Prisons
California Places Limits on Solitary Confinement in Prisons

Advocates argue solitary confinement is harsh and several other states have already prohibited or scaled back its usage, including New York, New Jersey, and Nebraska, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), said of solitary confinement in the past that it was “cruel and a racial justice issue that accomplishes nothing for the rehabilitation of a person.” The bill was submitted in February.

Holden was quoted in the Sacramento Bee as saying, “Not only is it recognized as cruel and unusual punishment by the United Nations, but it deeply destroys a person’s mind.”

Some authorities have voiced concerns that inmates’ safety could be compromised if that choice were removed.