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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: March 11, 2021 11:59 AM
From: Representative Tina M. Davis and Rep. Donna Bullock
To: All House members
Subject: Prohibiting Solitary Confinement for Vulnerable Populations
For the over 47,000 inmates in Pennsylvania’s criminal justice system, the prospect of facing solitary confinement can be terrifying. The unethical and inhumane practice of placing our most vulnerable populations in isolation for days, weeks, or even months on end can have devastating effects. Solitary confinement deprives inmates of normal human interaction, access to reading materials, and greatly contributes to a variety of negative physiological and psychological reactions, such as hallucinations, depression, anxiety, and paranoia.

The legislature’s first action in the new legislative session should be supporting my proposal, which prohibits the use of solitary confinement on pregnant women, LGBTQ individuals, inmates age 21 and younger, and inmates age 70 and older in Pennsylvania. Specifically, my legislation would prohibit the use of restraint chairs, chemical agents, and shackles, as well as put an absolute cap on the use of solitary confinement for all inmates at 15 days.

There is no benefit to placing someone in isolation, and the excessive use of solitary confinement in our correctional facilities is cruel and unnecessary. There is already a movement toward eliminating the use of solitary confinement in county jails. The time has come for us as a state to take a hard look at how we treat inmates, and I believe it is our duty as public servants to do everything in our power to protect all of our constituents. Please join me in this fight to protect the rights of our most vulnerable prison populations and support them on their journey towards rehabilitation.

Introduced as HB1037