Letter: Support Mandela Act to limit isolated confinement

Dear Editor,

I am writing to urge support for Illinois SB2257/HB4828, an essential legislative effort aimed at limiting the use of isolated confinement in our state’s correctional facilities.

This bill would create the Nelson Mandela Act representing a critical step forward to ensuring the humane treatment of incarcerated people and aligning prison practices with proven rehabilitative standards.

There are currently no limits in Illinois law on the use of isolation, which violates international human rights law. Isolated confinement does not improve facility safety and is more expensive than general population housing. It inflicts severe psychological effects, including increased anxiety, depression, and even suicidal tendencies. A growing body of medical literature establishes that isolation can cause permanent brain damage. Personal accounts of those who have endured this practice are profoundly distressing. There is no doubt that this practice can destroy people.

By limiting the duration and conditions of isolation, SB2257 seeks to mitigate these horrific impacts and promote a humane approach to discipline.

It is imperative, for the well-being of those in our system, their families and friends and the safety of our communities, that we endorse approaches proven to reduce recidivism rather than exacerbating the challenges faced by those incarcerated in Illinois. Importantly, supporting the mental health of incarcerated people is paramount to their successful reintegration into society upon release.

Please join me in urging our Illinois legislators and governor to act now by supporting the Nelson Mandela Act for a just, effective, and humane Illinois correctional system.


Jill Taylor

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