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CA Gov. Newsom Vetoes Solitary Confinement Limits Bill

Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill that would have made California the latest state to curb its widespread use of solitary confinement. The California Mandela Act would have restricted prisons, jails and private immigration detention centers from holding people in solitary confinement for more than 15 consecutive days, the Sacramento Bee reports. It would have banned the practice altogether for vulnerable populations, including pregnant people and those under 25 and over 60. Newsom called the bill “overly broad,” writing that it lacked exceptions for officials to use solitary confinement in circumstances when segregated housing could “protect the safety of all incarcerated individuals in the institution.”


The legislation, introduced by Assemblyman Chris Holden, defined solitary confinement as holding a person in a cell with severe restrictions on physical movement and minimal or zero contact with people for more than 17 hours a day. “California has a dark history on the issue of solitary confinement, and this bill was our chance to get it right on this issue,” Holden said. “The scientific consensus and the international standards are clear, solitary confinement is torture and there must be limitations and oversight on the practice.” The bill mirrored a New York law that went into effect this year. Another 13 states have limited or banned the practice since 2017. The bill’s title was inspired by Nelson Mandela and the United Nations’ standards on treatment of prisoners, which are named in his honor. In 2015, the United Nations favored prohibiting any period of isolation beyond 15 days and defined it as torture.

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