A legislative commission studying the use of solitary confinement in Rhode Island prisons reported back to lawmakers Thursday. The group also made recommendations to reform the practice, which critics say can create lasting mental health issues in the prison population.
Providence Rep. Aaron Regunberg chaired the study commission. He says the Department of Corrections has already made policy changes, including changing the way inmates in solitary communicate with the outside world.
“The department eventually agreed to allow for a limited number of phone calls,” Regunberg said. “And there are a lot of folks on the commission who think it’s a real problem to have folks in a position where they cannot talk to their loved one or family members for such a long period of time.”
Regunberg says the Department of Corrections has also agreed to closely track the use of solitary confinement.
“And so there’s definitely going to be talk about regularly looking into the information that we’re seeing,” Regunberg said. “And see is the rate going down? Are the numbers going down? Have these initial steps been working?”
Department of Corrections officials have come out against legislative efforts to limit the use of solitary confinement