The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights, chaired by Illinois Democrat Dick Durbin, has announced that it will hold a hearing later this month on solitary confinement in U.S. prisons and jails–the first-ever Congressional hearing on this subject. The subcommittee released the following information:
Reassessing Solitary Confinement: The Human Rights, Fiscal, and Public Safety Consequences
Hearing Before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights
Date: Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Time: 10:00 a.m.
Location: Dirksen Senate Office Building Room 226
Description: U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), the Senate’s Assistant Majority Leader, will chair a hearing on the human rights, fiscal, and public safety consequences of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, jails, and detention centers. This is the first-ever Congressional hearing on solitary confinement. Over the last several decades, the United States has witnessed an explosion in the use of solitary confinement for federal, state, and local prisoners and detainees. The hearing will explore the psychological and psychiatric impact on inmates during and after their imprisonment, the higher costs of running solitary housing units, the human rights issues surrounding the use of isolation, and successful state reforms in this area.
This hearing is open to the public. The list of witnesses will be announced on a future date.
Chairman Durbin invites interested advocates and experts to submit written testimony to be included in the hearing record. Statements should be less than 10 pages, and should be emailed to Nicholas Deml at Nicholas_Deml@judiciary-dem.senate.gov as early as possible, but no later than Friday, June 15, 2012 at 5:00 PM.
Senator Dick Durbin is Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights. The Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights was formed by merging the Constitution Subcommittee and the Human Rights and the Law Subcommittee, which Senator Durbin previously chaired. The Subcommittee has jurisdiction over all constitutional issues, and all legislation and policy related to civil rights, civil liberties and human rights. The Ranking Member of the Subcommittee is Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).
Advocates are urging colleagues to submit statements and attend the hearings. David Fathi, who heads the ACLU’s National Prison Project, called the hearing a “huge opportunity” for those who support reform to make their voices heard.