End Solitary Confinement

In 2015 the United Nations adopted amendments to the 60-year-old Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and renamed them the Nelson Mandela Rules to honor the legacy of the late President of South Africa, who spent 27 years in prison in the course of his struggle for justice for indigenous Africans subjugated under the colonial apartheid regime. The amendments included an outright prohibition on “prolonged solitary confinement,” defined as solitary confinement for more than 15 consecutive days. Yet today, many of Washington’s incarcerated population endure longer periods of solitary confinement. This practice perpetuates immoral treatment of prisoners and poses risks to their wellbeing, as isolation exacerbates mental health issues and undermines rehabilitation. House Bill 1756 and its companion bill, Senate Bill 5639, would reform the state’s use of solitary confinement to bring it into compliance with the Mandela Rules.