PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new bill introduced in the R.I. General Assembly would restrict how many hours inmates can spend per day in solitary confinement.
The measure, introduced by state Sen. Jonathon Acosta and Rep. Leonela Felix, would restrict the use of solitary confinement for violent offenses and ban its use for inmates with developmental or behavioral disabilities. Inmates could also be kept in solitary confinement for a maximum of 22 hours a day, according to the legislation.
“This bill is not about banning solitary confinement,” Acosta said. “It’s about reforming the system to ensure accountability and ensure the practice is used as a last resort.”
The measure would also create an oversight committee, which will determine when the practice is appropriate for use.
Felix said solitary confinement, which keeps prisoners individually in a cell without human contact, is a cruel and ineffective practice.
“Studies show that prolonged isolation leads to severe psychological distress, particularly for individuals with serious mental illnesses, which can exacerbate the risk of violence,” Felix added. “By limiting the use of this harmful practice, we can prioritize rehabilitation over punishment and, ultimately, create a safer society for all.”