New bill aims to end solitary confinement in DC jails

A new bill has been introduced by a DC councilmember to prohibit solitary confinement in all jails in the District.

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Councilmember Mary Cheh introduced the Eliminating Restrictive and Segregated Enclosures ("ERASE") Solitary Confinement Act of 2022, which would strictly limit the use of safe cells and require that incarcerated people with mental health emergencies receive proper care.

The bill would prohibit all forms of solitary confinement including disciplinary segregation, protective custody, transgender segregation, room confinement (for children), administrative segregation and restrictive housing.

The D.C. Department of Corrections uses solitary confinement more frequently than other jurisdictions, according to a press release from the legal team at DC Justice Lab and the advocacy group Unlock the Box.

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"Studies have shown that solitary confinement has many negative effects, including increased risk of addiction, recidivism, and suicide," Councilmember Cheh said. "I am proud to continue my previous work on this issue by moving the District forward and severely limiting the instances in which solitary confinement can be used."

The bill would also require the Department of Corrections and the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services to create a plan to eliminate segregated confinement and report to the Council on the impacts of this legislation.


The legislation was co-introduced by Councilmembers Nadeau, Lewis George, McDuffie, Silverman, and R. White.