In December the American Correctional Association proposed modifying its standards for solitary confinement. It was a series of relatively minor proposed changes, starting with changing the name of the practice from "segregated housing" (which is what many prison and jail agencies currently call solitary) to "Restrictive Housing." The standards include portions dealing with the spaces used for "restrictive housing," including size, access to light, and views.
We at ADPSR were not entirely sure that it was appropriate to try to "improve" these standards -- for instance by arguing for larger rooms and better daylight and views -- since common American use of solitary confinement (whatever you call it) does not meet international human rights standards. Most obviously, while human rights groups agree that solitary confinement should be very limited, used as a last resort, and then for 15 days at an absolute maximum, the US has tens of thousands of people in solitary with stays of a year, multiple years, and even decades not uncommon. "Better" conditions may make a 15 day stay tolerable, but will do nothing to curb the abuse inherent in prolonged solitary confinement.
However, at the urging of other human rights groups, we added comments that encourage ACA to require a higher minimum quality of space for places intended for "restrictive housing." Our comments cited the new "Mandela Rules" (see below) consistently, and we included a letter contextualizing our comments within a broader human rights framework. For more on the ACA process, click here
; for ADPSR's letter and comments, click here