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New bill aims to curtail the use of solitary confinement in California prisons

AB 2632 seeks to limit solitary confinement.jpg
Angela Carone / KPBS
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Flickr / Creative Commons
AB 2632 seeks to limit the use of solitary confinement in California jails, prisons, and detention facilities.

Assembly Member Chris Holden, a Democrat from Pasadena, wrote and introduced California Assembly Bill 2632 last February. The bill aims to significantly reduce the use of solitary confinement in California jails, prisons, and civil detention facilities.

It defines the practice as a severe restriction of an inmate’s activity, movement, and contact with anyone besides prison staff for more than 17 hours a day.

AB 2632 would outlaw the detainment of individuals in solitary for more than 15 consecutive days, and more than a total of 45 days within a six-month period. It would also ban the use of solitary confinement outright for pregnant and postpartum women, those with specific mental or physical disabilities, and people under 26 and over 59 years of age.

The use of solitary confinement has come under increased scrutiny in recent years, with various states voting to limit its application. Its use for any period longer than 15 days is defined by the United Nations’ “Nelson Mandela Rules” as a form of torture, and advocates for its abolition regularly cite the physical and psychological damage it causes.

Raphael Cohen was part of KALW's Summer Journalism Training Program in 2022. He produces news spots and work for Crosscurrents.