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Free Lance-Star: EDITORIAL: Record keeping critical to studying solitary PDF Print E-mail

BY: Editorial Page Staff Of the Free Lance-Star

Created: January 16, 2019

AFTER ISSUING a report last May called “Silent Injustice: Solitary Confinement in Virginia,” the ACLU wrote to Gov. Ralph Northam urging him to issue an executive order banning solitary confinement at corrections facilities across the state.

It’s safe to say that no ban on solitary is likely in the foreseeable future without a viable alternative, but the report has spawned legislation that would bring transparency to the practice. It merits a hard look by lawmakers.

A pair of identical bills, HB 1642 (Del. Patrick A. Hope, D–Arlington) and SB 1140 (Sen. Barbara A. Favola, D–Arlington), would require Virginia corrections officials to file detailed annual reports on the use of solitary confinement. The reports would include the number of inmates placed in solitary and for how long; the reasons for such confinement; each inmate’s “age, sex, gender identity, national origin, race and ethnicity, English proficiency status, developmental or intellectual disability”; a specific count of “vulnerable” inmates—those 21 years old or younger and 55 or older; and the number of “self-harm” incidents involving each solitary inmate.