A bill that would largely ban the use of solitary confinement in federal institutions was introduced in the United States senate on Tuesday, NBC News reports. The legislation, which is sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, both D-Mass.; Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.; and Peter Welch, D-Vt., would also incentivize states and local jurisdictions to reduce their use of solitary confinement as well. The bill is a companion to a house bill that was introduced in July, called the End Solitary Confinement Act. Both the House and Senate legislation would prevent people from being held in isolation for more than four hours at a time, would entitle all prisoners to at least fourteen hours of daily time outside of their cells, and access to at least seven hours of mental health care and other programming.
Currently, on any given day, roughly 122,000 people in state and federal prisons, along with local jails, are placed in solitary confinement where they are held in cells for at least 22 hours a day. "Being forced into a small, concrete cell without windows for hours, days, weeks, and even months on end isn’t rehabilitation, it’s cruelty," Markey said in a statement. "Solitary confinement is unjust and inhumane torture that disproportionately targets our nation's most vulnerable groups."