Monday, July 20, 2015

Obama’s weak plan on prison cruelty

...The president got the outrage level about right. Except in a handful of extraordinary cases, extreme prisoner isolation is an indefensibly cruel way to treat anyone — and it’s expensive, as well as inhumane and counterproductive. So what’s the president’s bold plan?

“I’ve asked my attorney general to start a review of the overuse of solitary confinement across American prisons.”

A … study? We’ve already had those, as well as experiences from states such as Mississippi, which has drastically slashed the number of prisoners it keeps in isolation and seen no negative impact on prison safety. If anything, Mississippi prisons have gotten safer. The federal government hasn’t done as well in the prisons it runs. Many other states lag even farther behind in their penitentiaries. Obama this week called on Congress to act now on a variety of other criminal justice issues. He should push with the same force and urgency to reduce isolation in federal prisons and, even more important, to press lagging states to end the cruelty in theirs.


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