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Senators aligned with the Democratic Party introduced the End Solitary Confinement Act on Tuesday, aiming to restrict the use of solitary confinement in federal institutions and encourage states and local jurisdictions to follow suit.

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The bill, mirroring a version introduced by House Democrats in July, limits the use of solitary confinement to a maximum of four hours for emergency de-escalation, with mandatory hourly check-ins by staff members. Additionally, it guarantees incarcerated individuals at least 14 hours daily outside their cells, including seven hours of rehabilitative programming.

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Led by Senators Elizabeth Warren, Ed Markey, Bernie Sanders, and Peter Welch, the bill addresses the “inhumane and disproportionate use” of solitary confinement, particularly affecting “vulnerable populations.” Markey highlighted, “Being forced into a small, concrete cell without windows for hours, days, weeks, and even months on end isn’t rehabilitation, it’s cruelty.”

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The legislation also mandates regular federal reporting on incidents of self-harm, suicide, and solitary confinement use, along with demographic data of those isolated during emergencies.

Despite this, the bill’s future remains uncertain, as it requires bipartisan support and the endorsement of President Biden, who has pledged to reform solitary confinement practices. In addition to President Biden, multiple states have made adjustments to their policies on solitary confinement, though some correctional officer unions have raised concerns about staff and inmate safety.


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