FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 6, 2013
National Interfaith Campaign Welcomes Announcement of Assessment of Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons
Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) announced that the Federal Bureau of Prisons has agreed to a first-ever comprehensive and independent assessment of its use of solitary confinement in U.S. federal prisons, to be conducted through the National Institute of Corrections.
“Assessment of the use of solitary confinement in U.S. federal prisons is a critical step in working to end torture in U.S. prisons,” said NRCAT’s director of U.S. prisons policy and program, Laura Markle Downton. “The United States is a world leader in holding prisoners in prolonged solitary confinement, with at least 80,000 people in the U.S. criminal justice system held in isolation on any given day. For people of all faith traditions, such violation of human dignity is of grave concern.”
Tuesday’s announcement comes following an unprecedented Congressional hearing on solitary confinement held on June 19, 2012, for which the National Religious Campaign Against Torture submitted written testimony. Before the hearing, NRCAT organized people of faith across the nation in a 23-hour fast, symbolizing the 23 hours prisoners spend in solitary confinement cells per day.
According to Durbin’s statement this week, “The United States holds more prisoners in solitary confinement than any other democratic nation in the world, and the dramatic expansion of solitary confinement is a human rights issue we can’t ignore.”