ACLU’s National Prison Project director David Fathi said Monday that Obama’s new measure “will put critical limits on solitary confinement in our federal prisons, restrictions that will save thousands of prisoners from needless suffering and permanent psychological damage.”
Human rights advocates have long said that solitary is a form of torture, while numerous studies have found that the practice is likely to have negative impacts on prison and public safety. Referring to this growing body of evidence, Obama wrote:
The measure is long in the making. In July of 2015, Obama became the first sitting president to visit an American prison and question the use of isolation, prompting over a hundred rights groups to publicly urge him to take immediate action ending the practice. Just days before that visit, he gave a speech to the annual convention of the NAACP in Philadelphia in which he called for an end to mass incarceration and restoration of voting rights to those who serve their time.
“With these reforms, the president has added the full weight of the United States government to the movement to end our jails and prisons’ addiction to solitary and its cruelty,” Fathi said Monday. “We have lost too many to a punishment that hurts us all.”
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