Report Calling for Illinois Prison Reform in the Use of Solitary Confinement 

A recent report published by a coalition of legal and civil rights organizations, featuring contributions from HSPRD Partner Kate Schwartz, calls for immediate reform in the use of solitary confinement in Illinois’ prisons. The report, “Ending Long Term Solitary Confinement in Illinois,” supports the Nelson Mandela Act (HB4828), which seeks to curtail solitary confinement practices. 

Key Takeaways: 

Solitary confinement drives otherwise healthy people to mental illness: Prolonged isolation can cause severe psychological distress, leading to conditions such as depression, anxiety, and psychosis. 

People in solitary confinement account for almost half of prison suicides: The harsh and isolating conditions of solitary confinement often led to despair and hopelessness, resulting in a higher rate of suicide among those subjected to it. 

– Solitary confinement constitutes torture and violates international law: The practice is recognized as a form of torture under international human rights law due to its cruel, inhumane, and degrading nature. 

Black Illinoisans are placed in solitary confinement at a disproportionately high rate: There are stark racial disparities in the use of solitary confinement, with Black individuals being subjected to the practice at a higher rate than their white counterparts. 

The taxpayer cost of solitary confinement is far higher than incarceration in the general population: Solitary confinement requires more resources for surveillance, healthcare, and facility maintenance, making it a more expensive form of incarceration. 

Kate’s involvement in this work underscores her commitment to advocating for criminal justice reform and the humane treatment of individuals who are incarcerated. HSPRD stands with Kate Schwartz in her efforts to bring awareness to this important issue and seek justice for those impacted by solitary confinement. 

Find the entire report HERE. 

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