Torturous Problem Faces Some Changes

Solitary Confinement
Via Flickr
William Anderson
March 20, 2021

Solitary confinement is a widespread use of torture that’s been normalized across the USA. Like many other human rights violations, it happens regularly in prisons and jails.

Recently, one state has done something to make a change in the face of a terrible tragedy.

Layleen Polanco was a 27-year-old trans woman who died of an epileptic seizure after being placed in solitary at Rikers Island jail. Her medical conditions should have made her exempt from solitary – but they did it anyway. Now that she’s died, they’re making some changes.

New rules limit – but don’t completely abolish – the use of solitary confinement. Measures put in place would “limit any form of isolation exceeding 15 days,” and “ban solitary confinement for vulnerable populations,” according to the New York Daily News. Some say it’s not enough.

Layleen Polanco’s sister argues that “all they did was change the name.” She pointed out that under the new rules, dates for when punishment would end could become less clear. This is the problem with reform instead of abolition. Even solitary was once a reform!

When you simply make adjustments to something as horrific as torture, instead of abolishing it completely, you leave room for it to continue to be abused and even grow. Solitary confinement is an insult to human rights. It has to go for good!

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