June 20, 2017
By Steve LeBlanc and Bob Salsberg
Family members and others opposed to solitary confinement urged Massachusetts lawmakers Monday to restrict its use in jails and prisons.
Critics say the state has some of the nation’s harshest solitary confinement policies, allowing inmates to be placed in segregated disciplinary units for as long as 10 years.
Members of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee heard proposals Monday to limit solitary confinement to cases where an inmate poses a clear threat to the general prison population.
Other bills call for improving conditions in segregation units and requiring correctional facilities disclose more information about solitary confinement.
“You need to make sure someone poses a threat in order to keep them in segregation, and you have to give them a pathway out,” said Bonita Tenneriello, an attorney for Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts. “You have to give them some kind of programming to address their behavioral problems.”