Letter of Support Needed for SB970 by April 1st To Severely Limit Use of Solitary Confinement in Juvenile Facilities

03-25-14ActionUpdate

Pass SB970

Please take a few minutes to send a letter of support in for SB 970 BY TUESDAY, APRIL 1ST in order to PREVENT AND SEVERELY LIMIT THE USE OF SOLITARY CONFINEMENT IN STATE AND COUNTY JUVENILE LOCK-UPS.

Directly below is a sample letter. 

Letters need to be faxed to Senator Loni Hancock (Chair of the Public Safety Committee) – (916) 651-4909, with a fax also going to the bill’s author Senator Leland Yee –  916-651-4908.  Let us know when your letter goes in, so we can make sure it is registered as support by the committee.

Thank you!!!

Please print on your organization’s letterhead.

[DATE]

Senator Loni Hancock, Chair
Senate Public Safety Committee
Room 2031, State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814
By fax: (916) 651-4909
Phone to Confirm: (916) 651-4009

Dear Senator Hancock:

On behalf of [NAME OF ORGANIZATION], I am writing to indicate our strong support for SB 970 (Yee), a bill that would limit the harmful practice of solitary confinement against youth in the juvenile justice system. [PROVIDE A BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF YOUR ORGANIZATION].

SB 970 seeks to remedy current deficiencies in law regarding the use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities and to curb its overuse and abuse. This bill is in keeping with efforts in several other states to ban or limit the use of solitary confinement—a practice widely defined as torture due to the deleterious effects on the mental health of the confined.

Specifically, SB 970, would bring these urgently needed reforms:

  • Define solitary confinement as the involuntary placement in a room or cell in isolation from persons other than staff and attorneys.
  • Provide that solitary confinement shall only be used when a young person poses an immediate and substantial risk of harm to others or the security of the facility, and when all other less restrictive options have been exhausted.
  • Provide that a youth shall only be held in solitary confinement for the minimum time necessary to address the safety risk.
  • Empower existing county juvenile justice commissions to report on the use of solitary confinement in juvenile facilities.

[PLEASE DESCRIBE WHY YOU SUPPORT THE BILL AND/OR WHY THIS BILL IS IMPORTANT TO YOUR ORGANIZATION. YOU CAN USE ANY OR ALL OF THE PARAGRAPHS BELOW TO SUPPORT YOUR POSITION. ]

Solitary confinement has been widely condemned as torture. In October 2011, the United Nations (UN) called on all countries to ban solitary confinement of prisoners except in very exceptional circumstances and for as short a time as possible, with an absolute prohibition in the case of juveniles and people with mental disabilities. Efforts have been made across the country to curb the use of solitary confinement for adults and several states have prohibited the use of solitary confinement of youth for disciplinary reasons.

In February 2014, Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) called for “all federal and state facilities to end the use of solitary confinement for juveniles, pregnant women, and individuals with serious and persistent mental illness, except in those exceptional circumstances where public safety requires it.”

Solitary confinement damages mental health and increases risk for suicide. Nationally, over half of the youth who committed suicide while in a correctional facility were in solitary confinement at the time and 62% had a history of being placed in solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement is contrary to the stated rehabilitative and treatment goals of the juvenile justice system, and contrary to our values as a society. SB 970 offers California an historic opportunity to limit this dangerous and inhumane practice.

For these reasons, we support SB 970 and strongly urge your support as well.

Sincerely,

[NAME, TITLE]

[ORGANIZATION]

cc: Senator Leland Yee by fax – 916-651-4908

Comments are closed.