More than 130 justice organizations urge Biden to fulfill campaign promise of ending solitary confinement

A protecting custody cell within the county jail in Clearwater, Florida. AP Photo/Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office

  • During his campaign, Biden vowed to overhaul “inhumane” jail practices, like solitary confinement.

  • Now, extra than 130 social justice organizations are calling on the president to fulfill his pledge.

  • In a letter despatched to the administration this month, activists urged the president to “end the pain.”

  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As the Biden administration approaches extra than 4 and half months in workplace, a set of social justice and civil rights teams are calling on President Joe Biden to fulfill one of his legal justice campaign pledges.

Months earlier than he was elected president, Biden said he would name for an “overhaul of inhumane prison practices” if he received the White House. His first step, he mentioned, can be to finish the apply of solitary confinement with “very limited exceptions.”

Now, in a letter despatched earlier this month and made public on Monday, extra than 130 organizations and signatories are calling on the president to observe via on that promise.

In the letter, The American Civil Liberties Union, the Innocence Project, The Bail Project, and several other different teams supply a number of suggestions for ending the apply on the federal stage whereas urging the president and Vice President Kamala Harris to start implementing plans instantly.

“Ending the practice of solitary confinement would end the pain, torture, and trauma of tens of thousands of people languishing in harsh and harmful conditions,” the letter states.

The request comes as a growing number of states take measures to end long-term solitary confinement amid a years-long struggle for reform.

Prison reform activists have lengthy been working towards abolishing solitary confinement, also called punitive segregation. Multiple studies recommend a hyperlink between long run isolation and an elevated danger of self-harm and suicide. Research additionally reveals solitary confinement usually leads to psychological sickness and better charges of loss of life after launch, in accordance to The New York Times.

Activists have additionally been vital of the racial inequalities rampant within the use of solitary confinement. According to The Times, in New York, Black and Latino folks make up practically 70% of the state’s jail inhabitants, however characterize extra than 80% of these in solitary confinement.

The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated fast motion towards ending the apply, advocates say, because the quantity of inmates in solitary confinement grew five-fold throughout the pandemic, in accordance to a June 2020 report.

Experts say the apply was elevated throughout the pandemic, partly as a result of of considerations over the unfold of the virus in prisons. In the letter, organizers referred to as on Biden to develop a plan to include and deal with COVID-19 in prisons and jails with out the use of solitary confinement or lockdowns.

Activists really helpful that the federal authorities take a number of different measures:

  • Provide significant monetary incentives to states to cut back solitary confinement.

  • Call on Congressional leaders to maintain hearings on solitary confinement and go federal laws banning the apply.

  • Select a director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement with a dedication to humane practices.

  • Create a brand new senior-level place throughout the Department of Justice to examine and oversee the federal Bureau of Prisons.

The White House didn’t instantly reply to Insider’s request for remark.

Johnny Perez, director of the US prisons program on the nonprofit National Religious Campaign Against Torture and a former inmate who skilled solitary confinement, informed NBC News ending solitary confinement federally can be watershed win for the struggle.

“If we’re able to end solitary on the federal level, it would send a strong message that we are a country that does not torture its own citizens and that states also need to follow the president’s lead,” he mentioned.

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