More than 600 people are currently in solitary confinement in our state prisons, in conditions that the international community has deemed torture. Black people and people of color, as well as people with disabilities, are disproportionally placed in these barbaric conditions, often for months and years at a time.

This op-ed explains the current state of solitary in Washington and why true reform is needed.

Advocates have been pushing for the Washington Department of Corrections to end the use of solitary for more than a decade now. We are glad to see DOC taking some steps to curb this barbaric practice by banning disciplinary segregation. But if the DOC recognizes solitary is harmful to people, they should be abolishing all solitary, including administrative segregation, not just one form of it. The vast majority of the hundreds of people in solitary will not be impacted by this change at all and they will be left to suffer in empty cages until DOC makes true reforms.

Passing HB 1756, a bill that would end long term solitary and would prohibit its use entirely against vulnerable populations, including people with mental illness and elderly people, would do that. Click here to watch a TVW recording of last year’s hearing on SB 5413, a similar solitary bill that was heard last year.

“Ban Solitary” produced by AVID, Rooted in Rights, and the ACLU of Washington

Learn more about the devastating harms of solitary, directly from solitary survivors in this video.

Advocacy Resources

Abolish Solitary Confinement One Pager

Voices From Inside

Health Impact Review of HB 1312 (pre-curser to HB 1756)

Washington State Department of Corrections Data on Restrictive Housing

Cruel But Not Unusual: Solitary Confinement in Washington’s County Jails (Disability Rights Washington Report)

Media Coverage:

January 31, 2022 – PubliCola: “State Considers Prison Reform Proposals with Sweeping Impacts”