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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: June 2, 2021 03:45 PM
From: Senator John I. Kane and Sen. Katie J. Muth
To: All Senate members
Subject: Reforming Solitary Confinement
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 incarcerated people 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.

Our proposal is a companion to legislation introduced by Reps. Tina Davis and Donna Bullock in the House of Representatives. This legislation prohibits the use of solitary confinement on pregnant women, LGBTQ individuals, anyone age 21 and younger, and anyone age 70 and older in Pennsylvania, and caps the use of solitary confinement for all other incarcerated individuals at 15 days. Additionally, this legislation would prohibit the use of restraint chairs, chemical agents, and shackles.

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 incarcerated people, and it is our duty as public servants to do everything in our power to protect all of our constituents. Please join us in this fight to protect the rights of our most vulnerable prison populations and support them on their journey towards rehabilitation.

Introduced as SB685