Make Solitary Confinement Unconstitutional Under The 8th Amendment!

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Darcel Labrie
Darcel Labrie signed this petition

The Eighth Amendment states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” 

Over 3,000 inmates in California correctional facilities are held in solitary confinement. In which some have been confined for over 10 years. Solitary confinement, also known as the “SHU” (segregated housing unit), is a form of punishment, in which the prison / jail, places the inmate in a cell, which is about the size of an average elevator or bathroom. In the “SHU”, inmates are isolated from the general population of the prison and are forced to have no human contact. Inmates in solitary, get about an hour of “yard time” or “outside time”. This means that an individual is locked in a small cell, isolated from human contact for 23 hours a day. During these 23 hours, the inmate is stripped away from their basic rights, such as phone calls, letters, commissary, work, and recreational needs. These inmates are usually left in the “SHU”, for weeks, months, and even years.

Around 30% of California inmates suffer from a mental illness. These prisons are already lacking the help these inmates need in order to “rehabilitate”. Forcing them in solitary confinement, only aggravates their mental illnesses. If the inmate is not already mentally ill, studies have shown that solitary confinement drastically increases a persons chance of developing a mental illness. How is this not torture or a cruel and unusual punishment? This implements higher suicide rates. Studies have shown that the longer time spent in solitary, the more of a chance an inmate will commit suicide. Prisons claim that their goal of imprisonment is to rehabilitate or “fix” an individual. How can you fix someone by torturing them or triggering psychological problems. Forcing someone to develop or worsen psychological issues is inhumane and only creates more violence. 

If you do not agree with me, just imagine yourself surrounded by nothing but 4 walls and darkness for 23 hours of the day. No communication, no movement, no brain function, nothing. Isolation does not teach individuals to reintegrate back into society. It is unethical, and serves no purpose in our success to rehabilitate these inmates.

If you would like to make a change, please check out the California Prison Focus, a nonprofit located in Oakland, California. Their main goal is to get rid of solitary confinement and as a team with more supporters, I believe this can be done. Thank you.  

"Far from being a last-resort measure reserved for the 'worst of the worst,' solitary confinement has become a control strategy of first resort in many prisons and jails. Today, incarcerated men and women can be placed in complete isolation for months or years not only for violent acts but for possessing contraband, testing positive for drug use, ignoring orders, or using profanity. Others have ended up in solitary because they have untreated mental illnesses, are children in need of 'protection,' are gay or transgender, are Muslim, have unsavory political beliefs, or report rape or abuse by prison officials." -solitary watch