CHICAGO – Legislation is moving through the Illinois House that would require prisons to allow the most dangerous inmates four hours a day outside of solitary confinement. State Rep. LaShawn Ford (D-Chicago) also want the law changed to limit strictest confinement to no more than five consecutive days and five total days during a 150-day period.
The Chicago Sun-Times writes:
Illinois had about 1,830 inmates in solitary confinement as of April 14 for disciplinary reasons. An additional 148 are there for their own safety or other reasons. The state has an estimated 45,000 inmates overall, meaning Illinois is at the daily national average of about 4.4 percent for prisoners in segregation, according to federal data.
Illinois opponents of solitary confinement say many inmates are put there for minor infractions. But the most recent breakdown available, which the state provided last year to the Uptown People’s Law Center, is from 2008. The group, where Nelson now works to help inmates find legal representation, is suing Illinois over its use of solitary confinement.
The 2008 figures show that out of the 12,332 inmates placed in segregation that year, nearly a third were punished for violating rules or disobeying an order.
Atchison told lawmakers that he agrees the system needs to be improved, but he insisted that segregating some inmates is necessary.
“We have an obligation to protect other offenders,” he said.
More at Chicago Sun-Times.com