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The California Mandela Act, Targeting Solitary Confinement in Jails, Prisons and Immigration Detention Facilities Moves through Committee

Published on Monday, March 20, 2023 | 11:56 am
Assemblymember Chris Holden via Facebook

Last week, Assemblymember Chris Holden’s bill, The California Mandela Act on Solitary Confinement, AB 280 has passed the Committee on Public Safety and is headed to the Committee on Appropriations.

Torture is torture no matter what facility it takes place in,” said Assemblymember Chris Holden. “The community support for this bill has only grown because people are still suffering. From solitary survivors to loved ones of impacted individuals, many have reached out saying this legislation would have helped them personally.”

Despite international solidarity to end the use of solitary confinement, the practice remains common in jails, prisons, and detention facilities in California. The misuse of solitary confinement in California prisons led to a legal action filed in 2012, when California prisons held nearly 10,000 incarcerated individuals in solitary confinement, including 1,557 who had been there for 10 years or more. 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 California 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.

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. This bill 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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