US President Barack Obama on Monday announced a ban on solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons, citing the “heartbreaking” case of a teenager who spent two years in solitary after stealing a backpack and later killed himself.
President Obama, who is pushing to reform America’s overcrowded and expensive correctional system before the end of his presidency, wants to cut the number of people incarcerated, curb the use of solitary confinement, and end mandatory minimum sentences.
In an op-ed in the Tuesday issue of The Washington Post, posted online late on Monday, the president said placing juvenile prisoners in solitary confinement is used too frequently and can have terrible psychological effects.
He announced executive actions that also ban corrections officials from dumping prisoners responsible for “low-level infractions” in solitary confinement.
The reforms which would affect about 10,000 inmates who are serving time in isolation in the federal system were announced after the Justice Department completed a review of the use of solitary confinement in federal prisons.