November 24, 2017
The Salem News
By Christian M. Wade
BOSTON — Massachusetts has some of the nation’s harshest solitary confinement rules, allowing inmates to be placed in segregated units for as long as 10 years.
But the state is now poised to ease its restrictive policies as part of a wide-ranging criminal justice bill that could be headed for Gov. Charlie Baker’s desk.
House and Senate versions of the bill — both approved in the past month — include provisions restricting the use of solitary confinement, requiring mental health assessments of inmates before they are placed in solitary, and requiring more transparency and oversight of the practice.
“The negative effects of long-term solitary confinement are devastating,” said Leslie Walker, executive director of the nonprofit group Prisoners’ Legal Services, which advocates for humane treatment of inmates. “People suffer physically and mentally in solitary confinement and come out permanently damaged.”