About the California Mandela Bill

Solitary confinement is one of the most severe and destructive practices found in detention facilities today. The World Health Organization, United Nations, and other international bodies have recognized solitary confinement as greatly harmful and potentially fatal. In 2016, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care issued guidance to correctional health officials explaining that a period of confinement beyond 15 consecutive days is “inhumane, degrading treatment, and harmful to an individual’s health.” In 2015, the United Nations General Assembly ratified the Nelson Mandela Rules, prohibiting any period of segregation beyond 15 days and defining it as torture.

Despite international solidarity to end the use of solitary, the practice remains common in jails, prisons, and detention facilities in California. The misuse of solitary in California prisons led to a legal action filed in 2012, when California prisons held nearly 10,000 incarcerated individuals in solitary confinement, including 1,557 who had been there for 10 years or more.

The destructive impact of solitary confinement can have disastrous impacts on those who experience it, particularly those who belong to vulnerable populations, including the elderly, disabled, and even pregnant women. For example, in 2018 a pregnant woman in the Santa Rita County Jail in Dublin gave birth alone in a solitary confinement cell. Solitary confinement is often used as an alternative to treatment and accommodation for individuals with special needs or disabilities, often exacerbating their conditions.

In addition, solitary confinement has a disproportionate impact on communities of color. A 2015 report found that in California state prisons, Hispanic men make up 42 percent of the male population, but 86 percent of the male population in restricted housing.

This problem is not limited to jails and prisons alone, but also affects immigrants in private, for-profit detention facilities. In May of 2020, a 74 year old Korean man took his own life after being placed in solitary confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic, in violation of the facility’s own protocols related to mental health and welfare. In 2021, an individual sued the private for-profit operator of an immigration detention facility after being held in solitary confinement for 15 months, despite repeated requests to be rehoused.

California must join the international community, and set clear standards and limits on the use of solitary confinement. This begins by recognizing that solitary confinement is torture, and setting uniform and consistent limits on how solitary is used in all detention facilities.

Through this legislation, California can protect vulnerable populations from torture, and provide a clear roadmap to end the use of solitary confinement.

Time Limits

The bill limits time in confinement to not more than 15 consecutive days or 20 days total in a 60 day period.


AB 2632 abolishes solitary for specific populations including individuals with disabilities, pregnant people, youth, and elderly.


The bill requires facilities to keep clear records on the use of solitary confinement in order to provide public transparency.​

Solitary Facts

The result of solitary confinement is severe human, social, and sensory deprivation. In turn, solitary confinement inflicts immense suffering and causes people to deteriorate mentally, physically, and socially. It causes psychosis, anxiety, depression, and heart disease, and too often leads to self-mutilation and death by suicide and other causes.[10]

According to multiple studies and reports, putting people in isolation does not lead to safer prisons or safer communities. Research indicates that isolation causes more violence inside correctional facilities, a marked increase in mental illness, and increased harm to the communities survivors are placed in following incarceration.[11]

The eighth amendment to the United States Constitution states that “cruel and unusual punishment” can not be administered to people in correctional facilities. According to international law, solitary confinement is torture and a violation of human rights.
International experts have called for the abolishment of solitary confinement because of its harmful effects on mental and physical health of people who are incarcerated. Yet, the practice remains widespread in the US. [13]

Solitary confinement never makes things better. There are clear alternatives to solitary used by other countries and other states that can be a model for California. This includes developing specific units designed to accommodate the needs of specific populations and individuals, ensuring they have access to adequate programming and services, and preventing the permanent damage inflicted by isolation. 


Solitary Confinement is a national issue and the movement to abolish it is rapidly gaining steam.  Politicians, Thought Leaders and Impact-Makers across the country are calling on California to be a model of justice by signing the Mandela Act into law. 

New York Times

Will California Restrict Solitary Confinement?

LA Times

California moves to limit solitary confinement of inmates

San Francisco Chronicle

California puts some of its most vulnerable prisoners in solitary confinement. A state bill would change that.


Segment on AB 2632


The Sponsors and supporters of this bill are of transformative justice organizations and advocates working to make California a safer, more free state.  If you’re interesting in learning more about social justice causes, engaging with these partners is a wonderful place to start.


Immigrant Defense Advocates

NextGen California

Disability Rights California

California Families Against Solitary Confinement


California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice

Prison Law Office

Unlock the Box

Berkeley Underground Scholars


#HALTsolitary Campaign
8th Amendment Project
A New Way of Life Re-entry Project
Acce Action (Alliance of Californians for Community
ACLU California Action
Advancement Project
Aging People in Prison Human Rights Campaign
Alianza Sacramento
Alliance for Boys & Men of Color
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
Alliance San Diego
Anti-Torture Initiative. Washington College of Law, American University
Anti-Recidivism Coalition
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – California
Asian Pacific Environmental Network (APEN)
Autonomous Infrastructure Mission
Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
Black August Los Angeles
Black Women for Wellness
Bread for The World
Breast Cancer Prevention Partners
CA Now
Cal Voices (formerly Norcal Mha)
California Attorneys for Criminal Justice
California Calls
California Catholic Conference
California Domestic Workers Coalition
California Donor Table
California Employment Lawyers Association
California Environmental Justice Alliance
California Environmental Voters
California Food and Farming Network
California Immigrant Policy Center
California Innocence Coalition
California Innocence Coalition: Northern California Innocence Project, California
California Labor Federation
California League of Conservation Voters
California League of United Latin American Citizens
California Low-income Consumer Coalition
California Pan – Ethnic Health Network
California Public Defenders Association
California Reinvestment Coalition
California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation
Californians for Safety and Justice
Californians United for a Responsible Budget
Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law
Center for Responsible Lending
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment
Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative
Child Care Law Center
Coalition for Family Unity
Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights (CHIRLA)
Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto
Consumer Attorneys of California
Council on American-Islamic Relations, California
Courage California
Defy Ventures
Democratic Socialists of America
Democratic Socialists of America, Fresno
Detention Resistance
Drug Policy Alliance
Earth Justice
Ella Baker Center for Human Rights
End Solitary Santa Cruz County
Environment California
Equal Rights Advocates
Equality California
Essie Justice Group
Families a United to End LWOP ~ FUEL
Freedom 4 Youth
Freedom for Immigrants
Fresno Barrios Unidos
Fresno Pathways Consultants
Friends Committee on Legislation of California
Haitian Bridge Alliance
Health Access California
Housing Now! CA
Immigrant Legal Resource Center
Indivisible CA Statestrong
Indivisible Marin
Indivisible Sacramento
Innocence Project, Loyola Project for the Innocent
Institutionalized Youth and Peer Prayer Initiative
IUCC Advocates for Peace & Justice
Jesse’s Place Organization
Latino Coalition for A Healthy California
Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
Leadership Counsel for Justice & Accountability
League of Women Voters of California
Legal Aid At Work
Legal Services for Prisoners With Children
Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office
Los Angeles Human Rights Initiative
Lutheran Office of Public Policy – California
Medina Orthwein LLP
Mental Health Advocacy Services
Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund
MILPA Collective
Mujeres Unidas Y Activas
Naral Pro-choice California
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI-CA)
National Association of Social Workers California Chapter
National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT)
Oakland Privacy
OC Rapid Response Network
Orange County Equality Coalition
Pathways Consultants
Patriotic Millionaires
People’s Budget Orange County
People’s Collective for Environmental Justice
Pico California
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California
Policy Link
Power California
Public Advocates
Root & Rebound
San Francisco Public Defender’s Office
Santa Barbara County Immigrant Legal Defense Center
Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos INC.
Secure Justice
Seiu California
Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network
Showing Up for Racial Justice Bay Area
Sierra Club California
Smart Justice California
Social Workers & Allies against Solitary Confinement
Step Out Step Up
Sustainable Economies Law Center
The Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
The Sister Warriors Freedom Coalition
The Transformative In-prison Workgroup
The Young Women’s Freedom Center
Tides Advocacy
UFCW-Western States Council
Uncommon Law
Underground Scholars Initiative (USI) At UC San Diego
Underground Scholars Initiative At UC Berkeley
Underground Scholars Initiative, UCLA
University of San Francisco Immigration Policy Clinic
Unlock the Box Campaign
Voices for Progress
Wellstone Democratic Club
Western Center on Law & Poverty
White People 4 Black Lives
Worker-Owned Recovery California Coalition
Young Invincibles


SEPTEMBER 15, 2022

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