Fairfax Criminal Attorney Muhammad Elsayed discusses Pres. Obama’s ban on solitary confinement for juvenile federal prisoners.
President Obama has announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile federal prisoners. He also announced new rules aimed at limiting the use of solitary confinement to punish inmates for minor infractions. Under these rules, the Federal Bureau of Prisons would be prohibited from using solitary confinement to punish inmates who commit “low-level infractions.” Further, the longest a prisoner can be placed in solitary confinement under the new rules for a first offense would be 60 days instead of the maximum of 365 days.
In an op-ed published in the Washington Post, President Obama explained the reasons behind these policy changes. He emphasized the devastating and long-lasting psychological impact of prolonged solitary confinement, as well as the high number of inmates with mental health illnesses that are only further exacerbated by solitary confinement.
This policy change is very significant. For one, it marks an unusual interest by a sitting president in the issue of inmate rights and prison conditions, an issue that does not usually spark widespread public interest. This move is also part of a series of changes pushed by President Obama—and broadly supported by Democrats and Republicans alike—to reform the criminal justice system. In addition, this reflects the president’s ongoing efforts to address issues of mental health and substance abuse in the criminal justice system. Perhaps in due time, state officials will also take note and similarly move to restrict the excessive use of prolonged solitary confinement in state prisons.
If you have questions regarding the criminal justice system, or if you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact the trusted Fairfax attorneys at Greenspun Shapiro PC today.