Statement from the Unlock the Box Campaign on the Protect Act passing in Connecticut
For Immediate Release
Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont has signed a bill restricting the use of long-term solitary confinement in the state’s jails and prisons. The PROTECT ACT, which takes effect July 1, forbids a person from being held in isolation for more than 15 consecutive days or more than 30 days within any 60-day period. The bill also forbids anyone under the age of 18 from being held in isolation.
“This law makes it clear that isolated confinement should only be used in extreme circumstances,” said Lamont in a statement.
The bill had passed both houses of the state legislature with bipartisan support.
With the governor’s signature, Connecticut will follow its neighbors in New York and New Jersey in restricting the use of long-term solitary confinement.
“New York and New Jersey, and now Connecticut are leading the way to end long-term solitary confinement in the United States,” said Jessica Sandoval, National Director of the Unlock the Box Campaign, a national effort that seeks to end solitary confinement in U.S. jails, prisons and youth facilities. “We hope other state legislatures from around the country will follow their historic lead.
Stop Solitary CT which championed the PROTECT ACT, estimates that thousands of incarcerated people in the state may be subjected to prolonged isolation. But poor data collection has made it nearly impossible to obtain an accurate count of the number of people held in isolation, according to the group. But that will change with the PROTECT ACT. The governor thanked Stop Solitary CT, which collaborated with his office on the bill, in his statement.
“We are thrilled that Connecticut has taken a huge step in ending this inhumane and cruel practice. I am also grateful to all those who collaborated and supported us in moving Governor Lamont to stand on the right side of justice by signing the PROTECT Act into law,” said Barbara Fair of Stop Solitary CT..
Research shows that solitary confinement is ineffective at making communities safer and that more effective and humane alternatives exist. Condemned by the United Nations, long-term solitary confinement has catastrophic effects on those subjected to it — including, but not limited to, self-harm, suicide, and psychosis. Survivors have likened the practice to torture.
In a study of more than 200,000 people released from prison, people who spent any time in solitary almost 80 percent more likely to die by suicide within their first year of release compared with people who were incarcerated, but not placed in solitary.
People are often placed in solitary confinement for frivolous reasons, such as having too many stamps, cursing, or having a pack of cigarettes. People who exhibit signs of mental illness are also often placed in solitary, which only exacerbates their symptoms.
In addition to ending long-term solitary confinement, the PROTECT ACT also aims to increase transparency and accountability for the state’s department of correction. It mandates that officials track who is held in isolation, creates a Correction Advisory Committee, and creates an independent ombuds position within the Connecticut Office of Governmental Accountability. This person will receive communications from incarcerated people, review departmental policies, and conduct site visits of the state’s jails and prisons.
Contact: Jessica Sandoval • Unlock the Box Campaign • firstname.lastname@example.org