The United Nations and the World Health Organization have condemned the use of solitary confinement for extended periods of time. Yet, in Illinois, there are no limits on how long a person can be held in solitary confinement.
Consider the following.
Under international standards, more than 15 days in solitary is considered torture.
A growing body of medical literature establishes that solitary can cause permanent damage to people’s brains and that virtually everyone who spends extended time in solitary suffers severe, and often long-term, adverse impacts on their mental and physical health.
Solitary confinement in carceral settings can last for a period of weeks, months, years, or even decades. Individuals can be confined in cells that measure 6 x 9 feet, which is smaller than the average parking space, without work, education, and sometimes without access to sufficient medical treatment.
Solitary confinement is generally costlier than general population housing. There is no peer reviewed study or other evidence that it improves facility safety.
Despite this well-established evidence of harm, some people in Illinois prisons have spent more than two decades in solitary confinement.
HB 3564 creates the Anthony Gay Law, also known as the Isolated Confinement Restriction Act. This bill limits the use of solitary confinement in prisons, jails, and immigration facilities by requiring:
Everyone be allowed out of their cells at least four hours a day.
If someone needs to be kept in a cell for more than 20 hours a day, that can only last 10 days out of any 180-day period.
The Illinois Department of Corrections to post online quarterly reports on the use of isolated confinement.