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NDRN Applauds Ban on Solitary Confinement for Juveniles

For Immediate Release             
January 27, 2016

Contact: David Card
202.408.9514 x122

WASHINGTON – In response to President Obama’s statement about the unnecessary use of solitary confinement in our nation’s prisons, the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) issued the following statement:

The National Disability Rights Network agrees with President Obama’s statements and executive actions on the use of solitary confinement. His statements about the ability of prisoners who have been confined in restrictive housing to successfully rejoin their families and live in their communities were particular poignant and accurate. 

We are pleased that last summer President Obama requested an investigation into the practice by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), and that investigation has since resulted in clear, common sense recommendations around the use of solitary confinement with regard to juveniles, prisoners with disabilities, and low level offenders. 

In particular, we support DOJ’s recommendations that Bureau of Prisons:

  • End the practice of placing juveniles in restrictive housing 
  • Expand its ability to divert inmates with serious mental illness to mental health treatment programs and significantly limiting the use of restrictive housing as a form of punishment.
  • Reduce maximum penalties for disciplinary segregation and institute an outright ban on the use of restrictive housing for low-level offenses

The fact that the Bureau has sharply reduced its use of solitary confinement in federal facilities since 2012 shows it can be done safely. In addition, the report recommends that DOJ’s Civil Rights Division Report continue to “ensure lawful and safe restrictive housing practices in state and local correctional facilities, including the treatment of juveniles and persons with mental illness, through investigations and litigation under Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA), the ADA, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.”

While there are relatively few juveniles in the federal system, these recommendations will act as a model and an example for state and local governments. The Civil Rights Division of DOJ has the power and the jurisdiction to effect change at that level and we fully support their continued efforts to ensure humane treatment for all prisoners. Sufficient funds should be allocated to ensure that DOJ Civil Rights Division has the resources to effectively enforce the ADA, Section 504, and CRIPA in state and local jails and prisons.

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The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) is the nonprofit membership organization for the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy (P&A) Systems and the Client Assistance Programs (CAP) for individuals with disabilities. Collectively, the Network is the largest provider of legally based advocacy services to people with disabilities in the United States.

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