State Reps. Tina Davis and Donna Bullock and state Sen. John Kane appeared at a news conference at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia to support legislation that would prohibit solitary confinement for “vulnerable” populations.
There are more than 47,000 inmates in Pennsylvania’s corrections system. One method of discipline is solitary confinement.
House Bill 1037 would prohibit using solitary confinement on pregnant or postpartum women; women who have recently suffered a miscarriage or had an abortion; LGBTQ individuals; inmates with certain mental, intellectual or developmental disabilities; and inmates 21 and younger or 55 and older.
The bill would also prohibit the use of restraint chairs, chemical agents and shackles as well as put a cap on the use of solitary confinement for all inmates at 15 days.
“Solitary confinement is a cruel and unjust form of discipline, which can perpetrate untold violence on an inmate’s psychological and emotional health,” Davis said. “Let’s get this straight: Our inmates are in our correctional system to be rehabilitated, not be subjected to torture.
“This bill would protect our most vulnerable prison populations from being mentally and emotionally devastated by solitary confinement while serving time in prison, and so ensure that these inmates’ families, communities and society at large will greet rehabilitated citizens ready to re-enter and contribute to life in our commonwealth after their prison terms end, not mentally ill souls in need of decades of care and supervision.”
House Bill 1037 awaits consideration in the House Judiciary Committee.