Lawmakers push to end solitary confinement in Virginia

State lawmakers in Virginia could be on the verge of getting rid of solitary confinement in state prisons. 

It’s part of a bipartisan effort by Democrats and Republicans that is quickly gaining momentum. 

Republican Del. Glenn Davis Jr. and Democratic Del. Don Scott have come together from opposite sides with one goal: to end the use of solitary confinement inside prisons in Virginia.

In 2021, Virginia’s Department of Corrections announced that they ended the practice that’s been criticized for being both cruel and inhumane. But there was never a law in Virginia actually banning solitary confinement. 

READ MORE: Virginia's 'second-look' bill could allow some prisoners to get out of jail early

Delegate Scott told FOX 5 that solitary confinement has fallen out of favor as an effective way of handling prisoners

"I think what it does when you are isolated for that long a period of time you can become … It disconnects you from your humanity, and it also disconnects the people that are supposed to be taking care of you," Del. Scott said. "It disconnects them from your humanity, and they start seeing you a different way."

At hearings on the bill to do away with solitary confinement, lawmakers heard from several witnesses who supported doing away with the practice. However, not everyone was on board. The National Coalition of Safety Officers says lack of staffing in prisons is a danger to prisoners and corrections officers.

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"We got back to the number one problem - safety in these facilities that points to staffing," said Donald Baylor with the Virginia chapter of National Coalition of Public Safety Officers. "We all know that we have a serious problem with staffing and turnover in this department and when we put these mechanisms in place it puts more demand on that staff!"

Delegate Scott says there will be protections for prisoners who have been put in solitary confinement for their own saftey. The house bills passed with both democratic and republican support, and there is a version making it’s way through virginia’s senate