A new bill has been introduced in the R.I. General Assembly to restrict the number of hours that inmates can spend in solitary confinement. State Senator Jonathon Acosta and Representative Leonela Felix are behind the measure, which would limit its use for violent offenses and ban it for inmates with developmental or behavioral disabilities. In addition, inmates would be allowed to spend a maximum of 22 hours a day in solitary confinement. The goal is to reform the system for accountability and to ensure the practice is used as a last resort.
The proposed bill also establishes an oversight committee that determines when solitary confinement is appropriate for use. According to Felix, solitary confinement is a cruel and ineffective practice that leads to severe psychological distress, particularly for those with serious mental illnesses. By limiting its use, rehabilitation can take priority over punishment and create a safer society for all.