Citing the death of Kalief Browder, who committed suicide following two years in solitary confinement at New York’s Rikers Island without a conviction, President Barack Obama announced a ban on the practice for juveniles in the federal prison system.
In an op-ed appearing Tuesday in The Washington Post, the president highlights executive actions that prohibit federal corrections officials from putting prisoners in solitary confinement for so-called “low-level infractions.” The steps also call for expanding treatment for mentally ill prisoners. The changes could affect up to 10,000 inmates, according to the Post.
Browder, 22, a native of the Bronx, last year became a poster child for prison reform after he hanged himself in June with an air-conditioning cord. Relatives, who filed a $20 million lawsuit against the city, said he suffered flashbacks from his experiences at Rikers.
From The Post:
In 2010, a 16-year-old named Kalief Browder from the Bronx was accused of stealing a backpack. He was sent to Rikers Island to await trial, where he reportedly endured unspeakable violence at the hands of inmates and guards — and spent nearly two years in solitary confinement.
In 2013, Kalief was released, having never stood trial. He completed a successful semester at Bronx Community College. But life was a constant struggle to recover from the trauma of being locked up alone for 23 hours a day. One Saturday, he committed suicide at home. He was just 22 years old.
The Post notes that Obama’s call for “reforms come six months after Obama, as part of a broader criminal-justice reform push, ordered the Justice Department to study how solitary confinement was being used by the federal Bureau of Prisons.”
Reports The Post:
The move is another example of the extent to which the nation’s first African-American president now seems willing to tackle delicate questions of race and criminal justice as he closes out his presidency. Obama has also been focused on trying to put in place programs to help ex-offenders reintegrate into society once they have left prison.
“How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people?” the president wrote in his op-ed. “It doesn’t make us safer. It’s an affront to our common humanity.”
The president said he hopes the federal reforms will serve as a model for states to overhaul their rules for solitary confinement.
21 Of President Barack Obama's Best Photos Of 2015
1. JANUARY: President Obama delivers the State of the Union address with the support of vice president Joe Biden. Obama gained mass support after his joke about winning both terms.Source:Getty 1 of 21
2. JANUARY: President Barack Obama has an adorable moment with Akira Cooper at the Community Children's Center, one of the nation's oldest Head Start providers, in Lawrence, Kan.Source:Pete Souza 2 of 21
3. JANUARY: President Obama greets Prime Minister Narendra Modi upon arrival at Air Force Station Palam in New Delhi, India.Source:Pete Souza 3 of 21
4. JANUARY: President Barack Obama greets neighbors after visiting a model home at the Nueva Villas at Beverly, a single-family housing development owned by local nonprofit organization Chicanos Por La Causa Inc. in Phoenix, Ariz.Source:Pete Souza 4 of 21
5. FEBRUARY: President Barack Obama fakes a jump shot during an Affordable Care Act video taping for BuzzFeed in the White House Library. The video went viral thanks to jokes about his presidency and ultra-cool swag.Source:Pete Souza 5 of 21
6. FEBRUARY: Obama pals around with one of his biggest supporters, vice president Joe Biden. While he chose not to run in the 2016 presidential election, Obama said he would be in his corner.Source:Pete Souza 6 of 21
7. FEBRUARY: President Barack Obama talks with 13-year-old student Vidal Chastanet as "Humans of New York" founder Brandon Stanton photographs during a blog interview in the Oval Office. Obama was greatly inspired by Chastanet's comments on the popular "Humans of New York" Instagram page, where he shared his troubles finding courage in school and and life despite living in a dangerous area of Brooklyn, NY.Source:Pete Souza 7 of 21
8. MARCH: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama join hands with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. as they lead the walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches, in Selma, Ala., March 7, 2015. Malia and Sasha Obama join hands with their grandmother, Marian Robinson.Source:Pete Souza 8 of 21
9. MARCH: Obama is a classic man as he puts on a green tie in observance of St. Patrick's Day.Source:Pete Souza 9 of 21
10. MARCH: President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the event to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery civil rights marches at the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.Source:Pete Souza 10 of 21
11. APRIL: During the Correspondents' Dinner, his anger translator - played by Key & Peele comedian Keegan-Michael Key - helped Obama get out his biggest frustrations.Source:Pete Souza 11 of 21
12. APRIL: President Obama arrives in Jamaica to meet with the 15-member Caribbean Community. His trip marked a first for the sitting president and second since the country's independence.Source:Getty 12 of 21
13. APRIL: Obama speaks with newly appointed Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the Oval Office.Source:Pete Souza 13 of 21
14. JUNE: President Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are seen talking during the president's trip to the G7Summit in Bavaria, Germany.Source:Getty 14 of 21
15. JUNE: President Obama sings "Amazing Grace" during the eulogy for South Carolina state senator and Rev. Clementa Pinckney during Pinckney's funeral service. Clementa was one of the nine victims who died after suspected shooter Dylann Roof entered the AME church and opened fire.Source:Getty 15 of 21
16. SEPTEMBER: President Obama is featured on the popular show "Running Wild With Bear Grylls." Obama took the trip to highlight the importance of climate control.Source:Getty 16 of 21
17. SEPTEMBER: The First Couple serve as "love goals" at the White House's state dinner for Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Madame Peng Liyuan. Obama and Xi announced an agreement on controlling climate change and a mutual outlook on cyber security.Source:Getty 17 of 21
18. OCTOBER: President Obama meets with Ahmed Mohamed, the student who was detained by Texas police for his homemade clock. The president stood by the teen, who many believe was the victim of Islamophobia.Source:Getty 18 of 21
19. NOVEMBER: President Obama issues a warning to his critics who "pop off" at his policies towards Syrian refugees. Speaking at the OP 21 United Nations conference on climate change, Obama welcomed his Republican critics to the White House to lay down their own policies. No one has responded.Source:Getty 19 of 21
20. DECEMBER: President Obama addresses the public from the Oval Office regarding the San Bernardino shooting.Source:Getty 20 of 21
21. DECEMBER: All grown up! The First Family, including Obama's mother-in-law Marian Robinson, is seen at the White House's national Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 2.Source:Getty 21 of 21
Obama Bars Juvenile Solitary Confinement In Federal Prisons was originally published on newsone.com