Saturday, February 18, 2012

Study Use of Solitary Confinement in Virginia

Via SALT:

Great news! The Virginia Senate Rules Committee passed an amended version of SJ 93, a resolution that directs the Virginia State Crime Commission to conduct a study of solitary confinement in the state of Virginia. The Virginia Senate then agreed to SJ 93 by a voice vote be fore cross-over occurred.

While the study itself will not be enough to end the inhuman use of prolonged solitary confinement, similar studies in other states have prompted state prison officials to re-evaluate the financial, moral, and public safety costs of prolonged solitary confinement, and dramatically reduce its use. We think a similar result could occur in Virginia if the state legislature passes this resolution ordering a study of the issue.
Speaking for the voiceless in Virginia. Contacting your State Senator and Delegate will make a major difference in passing SJ 93.
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 Dear Legislator,

I’m writing to express my support for SJR 93, a resolution that would prompt a study of the use of solitary confinement in Virginia.

According to the Washington Post (http://wapo.st/whPUqc), prisoners at Virginia’s Supermax prison, Red Onion State Prison, have been kept in solitary confinement from anywhere between two weeks and seven years, with an average length of stay of 2.7 years. Studies have shown that prisoners held in long-term solitary confinement experience hallucinations, panic attacks, and perceptual disturbances similar to symptoms commonly associated with neurological illnesses, such as brain tumors and seizure disorders. 

Solitary confinement is a destructive and expensive method of managing prisoners and other states, such as Mississippi and Maine, have saved millions of dollars and actually reduced prison violence by greatly reducing the number of prisoners held in isolation. 

The Commonwealth can neither morally nor financially continue to pay the price of prolonged solitary confinement.  I think that this is a critical moral issue and I would like you to VOTE for SJR 93.

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