On April 23, 2013, the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice is hearing Senate Bill 1517. This bill would restrict the use of solitary confinement in youth detention centers to four hours. Full text of the bill can be found here.
The Lieutenant Governor included the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's use of solitary confinement as a Senate interim charge, a designated legislative study that is conducted while the Texas legislature is out of session. Interim charge recommendations often provide blueprints for legislation in the next legislative session.
A special event is being hosted by the Texas Interfaith Center on Saturday, November 2: Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery, Huntsville: In Remembrance
Light refreshments to follow.
10:00 a.m. Laying of flowers - Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery, about a mile southeast of the Walls Unit on Bowers Boulevard.
In 2010, approximately 6% of Texas prisoners were held in solitary confinement according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Alarmingly, TDCJ reported that over 1,000 inmates were released from solitary confinement directly into Texas communities in 2008.
During the 2011 legislative session, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture joined with Texas Impact to support state legislation (HB 3764) that would have addressed the use of solitary confinement in the Texas prison system. HB3764 would have directed the Texas Department of Criminal Justice to submit an annual report to the Legislature on the use of solitary confinement (“administrative segregation”) and establish a plan to improve the conditions of confinement for those prisoners remaining in administrative segregation.
Texas Impact testified in support of HB 3764 before the Committee on Corrections. HB3764 passed out of committee, but never made it to a floor vote during the 2011 session. However, in January 2012, the Lieutenant Governor included the TDCJ's use of solitary confinement as a Senate interim charge, a designated legislative study that is conducted while the Texas legislature is out of session. Interim charge recommendations often provide blueprints for legislation in the next legislative session. NRCAT and Texas Impact will monitor the interim charge process and seek to provide support and resources to the staff conducting the study.
Links to news stories covering the use of solitary confinement in Texas and development in reforming the practice are available here.