ACLU urges governor to stop solitary confinement

acluThe ACLU of Virginia has called on Gov. Terry McAuliffe to stop the “horrific practice” of solitary confinement in the state’s prisons, jails and juvenile detention centers.

In a letter to the governor, ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Claire Guthrie Gastañaga noted that numerous studies have found long-term isolation and sensory deprivation can cause permanent psychological damage to prisoners, many of whom are released back into society directly from solitary confinement.

“Virginia must be a leader and take prompt and effective action, immediately, to limit and abolish the use of solitary confinement,” Gastañaga wrote. “It is a universal truth that solitary confinement is destructive to the human body and mind. The practice also costs too much to maintain and is harmful to the Commonwealth.”

The ACLU-VA long has advocated to change the law on solitary confinement and educate elected officials and the public about “this awful practice that offends our Constitution’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment,” the letter reads.

Gastañaga’s letter follows President Barack Obama’s action earlier this week banning solitary confinement of juveniles while also imposing sweeping reforms to reduce its use against adults being held in federal prisons.

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