President Obama on Monday announced a ban on solitary confinement for juvenile offenders in the federal prison system, saying the practice is overused and has the potential for devastating psychological consequences.
In an op-ed that appears in Tuesday editions of The Washington Post, the president outlines a series of executive actions that also prohibit federal corrections officials from punishing prisoners who commit “low-level infractions” with solitary confinement. The new rules also call for expanding treatment for mentally ill prisoners.
The president’s reforms are expected to affect about 10,000 inmates.
The reforms come six months after Obama, as part of a broader criminal-justice reform push, ordered the Justice Department to study how solitary confinement was being used by the federal Bureau of Prisons.
The move is another example of the extent to which the nation’s first African American president now seems willing to tackle delicate questions of race and criminal justice as he closes out his presidency. Obama has also been focused on trying to put in place programs to help ex-offenders reintegrate into society once they have left prison.
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