Photo of Senator Gomes.

State Senator

Ed Gomes

Representing Bridgeport & Stratford

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New CT Law Limits the Use of Solitary Confinement

Photo of Senator Gomes

Senator Ed Gomes visits a replica solitary confinement cell at the State Capitol (February 2017)

This week, the governor signed a bill that prohibits the Department of Correction (DOC) from holding anyone under 18 in isolated confinement, along with making other significant reforms to isolated confinement practices in Connecticut.

Senator Ed Gomes (D-Bridgeport), who spent some time in solitary confinement while imprisoned as a teen, visited the “Inside the Box” exhibit, a replica solitary confinement cell, while it was on display in the South Lobby of the State Capitol in February. As a member of the General Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, Sen. Gomes continuously demonstrated his support for solitary confinement reform throughout the legislative session and ultimately voted in favor of the bill in the senate.

Isolated confinement has been under review by Connecticut and other states for a number of years concerning the physical and psychological impacts it has on inmates, as well as the financial cost of implementation. The Connecticut Department of Correction has implemented reforms following investigations into the practice, and has seen a drop in the number of inmates subjected to isolated confinement.

The new law, Public Act 17-239, limits the use of solitary confinement and requires the DOC to report on its use of solitary confinement annually, including how many inmates were segregated from the rest of the population and the duration of their separation.

The bill additionally requires DOC to:

1. Submit specified information on isolated confinement, at least annually, to the Office of Policy and Management's Justice Policy & Planning Division;

2. Publish the formula for calculating an inmate's mental health score and a description of any housing used at its correctional facilities for inmates on restrictive housing status on its website, and;

3. Provide training and promote wellness measures for DOC employees who interact with inmates, within available appropriations.

The law will become effective January 1, 2018. It does not apply to inmates on high security status because they were convicted of a capital felony or murder with special circumstances.

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