US Justice Groups Release Blueprint ‘To End the Torture of Solitary Confinement’

We strongly believe that the reforms outlined in this blueprint will go a long way towards eradicating much of the senseless and counterproductive harm that has been caused,” said the director of ACLU’s Stop Solitary Campaign.


48-year-old Anthony Torres, who is serving a life sentence for murder, sits inside his cell at security housing unit B at the California State Prison Sacramento on March 5, 2014 in Represa, California. (Photo: Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

A criminal justice coalition on Monday provided a roadmap detailing specific steps the United States government can take “to end the torture of solitary confinement in federal custody.”

“The debilitating, dehumanizing, and even deadly effects on incarcerated people are an ongoing stain on the American legal system.”

—Tammie Gregg, ACLU

Described by the Federal Anti-Solitary Taskforce (FAST) as the “first-ever” document of its kind, “A Blueprint for Ending Solitary Confinement by the Federal Government” outlines how the White House and Congress can use executive, administrative, and legislative action to fulfill President Joe Biden’s “promise to stop this tortuous practice,” as the American Civil Liberties Union, a member of FAST, put it.

“There are a growing number of states that have taken a stand against the torture of solitary confinement,” said Johnny Perez, a survivor of solitary confinement and director of the U.S. Prisons Program at the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, another member of FAST.

In 2021, 70 pieces of legislation have been filed in 32 states “to end some aspect of solitary confinement in state prisons and jails,” according to FAST.

“It is time for the federal government to lead by ending the practice once and for all and incentivizing states to do so,” said Perez. “We are hopeful the Biden-Harris administration will follow through with their campaign promise to end solitary by any name and in all forms.”

In addition to the release of the FAST blueprint for ending solitary confinement, more than 130 civil rights, public health, and social justice groups signed a letter to the White House’s Office of Public Engagement made public Monday urging Biden to “end the pain, torture, and trauma of tens of thousands of people languishing in harsh and harmful conditions.”

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Organizing at Amazon: What Went Wrong? (+1 more)

Jane McAlevey on the fight in Bessemer, plus Amy Wilentz on Hunter Biden.

By Start Making Sense and Jon Wiener

(Igor Golovniov / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

The union organizing campaign at the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Ala., was defeated by a vote of 1798 against and 738 in favor. Jane McAlevey argues that the biggest factor in the vote was the laws that give tremendous advantages to the corporate side—but the union itself made a series of tactical and strategic errors. Jane is The Nation’s strikes correspondent.

Also: Hunter Biden was the target of a massive Republican attack campaign for more than a year leading up to the election; at the same time, the gossip pages seized on his disastrous private life. They made the most of his decades of alcohol addiction and drug abuse, and his subsequent affair with the widow of his brother. Now he’s written a book—it’s called Beautiful Things: A MemoirAmy Wilentz comments.


The Next Fight Against Voter Suppression

Dale Ho on Georgia, plus Karen Greenberg on ending our forever wars.

By Start Making Sense and Jon Wiener

(Brianna Soukup / Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

There’s one political prediction that always comes true: Record turnout in one election will be followed by a tidal wave of voter suppression efforts before the next one. So it’s not surprising that after 2020 had record turnout, 2021 is seeing voting rights under attack nationwide by Republican-controlled state legislatures. Georgia has taken the lead—and Georgia is being challenged in court by the ACLU, along with the the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Dale Ho comments: He’s director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, and supervises the ACLU’s voting rights litigation nationwide.

Also: Joe Biden and Congress should end our forever wars—and they can—by starting with three key steps: Karen Greenberg explains. She is the director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School and author, most recently, of Rogue Justice: The Making of the Security State.