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HPPR Health, Education & Welfare

Colorado's Move Away From Long-Term Solitary Confinement Featured In New York Times

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The executive director of the Colorado Department of Corrections recently wrote a piece about solitary confinement featured in The New York Times.

In September, Colorado ended the practice of long-term solitary confinement, Rick Raemisch wrote, after he assisted the State Department and several United Nations countries in modernizing international standards for the treatment of prisoners, now known as the Nelson Mandela rules.

During those discussions, which took place in 2015, it was decided that keeping someone isolated for more than 15 days in solitary was torture. Raemisch writes that after being involved in the discussions, it became apparent to him that long-term isolation only worsens mental illness suffered by many inmates

Prior to that move, the Colorado corrections system regularly employed the practice to punish inmates for everything from smuggling drugs to talking back to a corrections officer. The offending inmate would be confined for at least 22 hours a day for an average of two and a half years, but sometimes for decades.