Solitary Confinement Is Torture. The Time to Ban It in Pennsylvania Is Long Past Due

Bucks County Beacon, 03/31/24: “When Robert Saleem Holbrook was a minor, he was involved in a crime and served 27 years in Pennsylvania prisons – 10 of those in solitary confinement. His longest uninterrupted time in restrictive housing, Holbrook lived alone in a tiny cell at State Correctional Institution (SCI) Greene in Waynesburg, PA, from June 1996 until August 1999.

During the three decades Holbrook spent in jail, he enrolled in college, studied, and dedicated himself to making a difference for inmates like him. Now a member of the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School, Holbrook uses his experience and education to advocate for others.

As executive director of the Abolitionist Law Center, the organization that recently filed a federal lawsuit against the commonwealth on behalf of six inmates facing indefinite isolation, Holbrook eagerly awaits a legislative remedy that might put the topic of long term solitary confinement to rest.

Weeks ago, Holbrook and other advocates testified before the PA House Judiciary Committee in advance of new protective custody legislation proposed by Bucks County Representative Tina Davis.

Davis and her co-sponsor, Rep Mike Schlossberg of Lehigh County, announced late last year that they would introduce legislation that would prohibit the use of solitary on persons with mental health diagnoses. It would likewise eliminate restrictions of food, bedding and other necessities and mandate a hearing prior to the implementation of restrictive housing punishments.”

Read the full story here.