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Holden Reintroduces California Mandela Act, Targeting Solitary Confinement in Jails, Prisons and Immigration Detention Facilities

Published on Wednesday, January 25, 2023 | 5:52 am

Pasadena Assemblymember Chris Holden reintroduced The California Mandela Act on Solitary Confinement, AB 280, for the 2023 legislative session. 

The legislation is a reintroduction of AB-2632, a bill Holden co-authored that sought comprehensive reform on the issue of solitary confinement in jails, prisons and private detention facilities. This includes placing limits on the use of long term solitary confinement, and providing a clear definition of what constitutes solitary confinement across facilities in California. 

“I agree with the Governor’s assessment, and believe that comprehensive reform is needed for our jails and private detention facilities as well. We begin this year with the desire to work towards finding solutions on this issue for all carceral facilities. Torture is torture no matter what facility it takes place in,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden.

The bill would also protect the designated populations from ever being placed in solitary confinement — including pregnant people, the elderly and those with certain disabilities.

The reintroduced version of the Mandela Act includes specific language that addresses concerns raised by the opposition, and is designed to set minimum standards for all carceral facilities that should not conflict with higher regulations introduced by CDCR.

Holden’s co-author on the bill is  Senator Maria Elena Durazo (SD 26-Los Angeles).      

“I am excited to rejoin Assemblymember Holden as a coauthor on his reintroduction of the California Mandela Act, AB 280. While California has been at the forefront of leading the nation with critical criminal justice and incarceration reforms, we have not updated the solitary confinement practices in our prisons. This is a critical human rights issue. There have been too many cases of abuses like the horrific overuse of solitary confinement. As a state we insist we must stand strong on the values of decency and respect for humane standards,” said Senator Durazo.      

Solitary confinement remains a common practice in California’s prisons, jails and private immigration detention facilities. It is estimated that more than 50,000 people are in solitary confinement throughout the United States, and numerous states have introduced legislation seeking to limit the practice.

“The California Mandela Act originated from the harmful and damaging experiences of people who have been held in prolonged solitary confinement, especially vulnerable populations such as people who are pregnant or seriously disabled. The Mandela Act creates a window of hope and builds on the decades of work done by detained individuals, activists and organizers and allows for constructive alternatives,” said Holden.

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