Newspaper article International New York Times

Ending Solitary Confinement

Newspaper article International New York Times

Ending Solitary Confinement

Article excerpt

Obama's efforts could have a broad impact on criminal justice reform.

President Obama sent a powerful message last week when he barred federal prisons from holding juveniles in solitary confinement and ordered the Bureau of Prisons to undertake sweeping changes in how solitary is used throughout the federal system.

Solitary confinement, which is often used arbitrarily and to punish minor rule infractions, is a form of torture. It is psychologically damaging even to healthy people and increases the likelihood of suicide among the young and the mentally ill.

Mr. Obama cited the shameful case of Kalief Browder, who was arrested in New York City at the age of 16 in 2010 and jailed for three years without trial for allegedly stealing a backpack. Mr. Browder spent two of those years in solitary confinement, endured "unspeakable violence at the hands of inmates and guards" and tried to kill himself several times. …

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