President Obama has issued executive actions to ban the use of solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in federal prisons across the country.
Obama wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that ran in the Tuesday edition of the newspaper that solitary confinement is overused and can lead to dangerous psychological consequences.
“How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people?” the president wrote. “It doesn’t make us safer. It’s an affront to our common humanity.”
The executive actions also prohibit wardens from using solitary confinement as punishment for inmates who commit “low-level infractions” inside prison walls, according to the White House. The measures call for an increase in number of hours solitary-confinement inmates spend outside of their cells; the expansion of alternative housing units for inmates with mental illnesses; the hiring of more staff psychologists; and policies that discourage wardens from putting inmates in solitary confinements during the last 180 days of their prison terms, “making it easier for inmates to adjust when they return to the community.”
“In America, we believe in redemption,” Obama wrote in the op-ed. “We believe that when people make mistakes, they deserve the opportunity to remake their lives.”