SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN RHODE ISLAND

Attempted Reforms

2016-17 Legislation and Commission

  • From around 2015 to 2017, some local organizers formed End Solitary RI, a grassroots coalition

H 7481 and S 2318: Humane Alternatives to Long-Term Solitary Confinement

  • 2016 Legislation to reform solitary confinement in RI Department of Corrections

  • Introduced in RI State House of Representatives by Representative Aaron Regunberg and in the State Senate by Senator Harold Metts

  • Asserts that long-term solitary confinement is ineffective, violates the principle of decency and is counterproductive since individuals are likely to violate prison rules after being placed in solitary confinement

  • Individuals in "special populations" (21 years old or younger, 55 years old or older, or person with a physical, mental, or developmental disability) must not be placed in solitary confinement

  • No person should be in segregation longer than 15 consecutive days or 20 days within a total 60 day period. After this period, they must be released from segregated confinement or diverted to another unit

  • Individuals in segregated confinement must be able to have at least four (4) hours of out-of-cell time per day with at least one (1) hour of recreation daily

  • Neither became law

Solitary Study Commission Report (June 2017)

  • Studied use of solitary confinement at ACI

  • Commission members represented public health, corrections, criminal justice, community organizing governmental, and nonprofit institutions

  • Heard testimony from individuals who had experienced solitary confinement previously or currently

  • Reviewed reforms to solitary confinement in other states

  • A few of the Commission's recommendations RIDOC claimed it adopted

    • Mission of solitary confinement, including that prisoners will receive a written statement for why they have been placed in solitary confinement and a clear plan for return to less restrictive housing

    • No prisoner will be placed in restrictive housing based solely on their gang affiliation or status as LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex)

    • Regular medical and mental health reviews and immediate evaluation by mental health staff when prisoner shows symptoms of psychological deterioration

    • Pregnant and post-partum women excluded from restrictive housing except when when temporary to address serious harm to self or others

    • Individuals with SPMI (severe and persistent mental illness) or for whom segregation would have "a significantly damaging impact" will not be placed in restrictive housing

    • RIDOC will work produce quarterly housing on the population in restrictive housing​

  • Outstanding areas of discussion

    • Specific time limit on restrictive housing​ sentences

    • Time frame in which prisoners will receive written plans to assist in their release from restrictive housing

    • Visits for those in restrictive housing

    • Funding for RIDOC to achieve the commission goals