Obama To Ban Solitary Confinement

Other | Wednesday 27th January 2016 | Tom

President Obama has announced a ban on the use of solitary confinement as a punishment for juveniles. 

Citing devastating and permanent psychological damage as a reason for the law change, Obama stated that the practice was being ‘overused’ in the federal prison system. 

At the moment there are currently 100,000 prisoners of all ages located in solitary confinement, Obama has aimed to tackle these huge figures by changing the length of time someone can be placed in ‘the hole’ for a first offence to 60 days rather than the current 365

‘How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people?’ Obama wrote in his Washington Post op-ed. ‘It doesn’t make us safer. It’s an affront to our common humanity.’

President Obama’s legacy is facing challenges following a number of controversial deaths of African-Americans in police custody. This is in stark contrast to the initial optimism experienced at the beginning of his presidency, when he was elected the U.S's first black president. However, with nearly one million African Americans currently incarcerated in the U.S prison system it seems that the President wants to positively reform the U.S prison system, something that hasn’t previously been achieved.

The president began his op-ed by recounting the story of 16 year old Kalief Browder, Browder was imprisoned in 2010 to await trial after being accused of stealing a backpack. He ended up in solitary confinement for 2 years, Browder was released in 2013 without ever having stood trial, he committed suicide when he was 22

It is stories such as those of Kalief Browder that have personally affected Obama, prompting him to take action on the nation's legal system.