House passes new limits on solitary confinement

The House of Representatives unanimously approved a measure late Monday to prohibit incarcerated minors from being placed in solitary confinement.

The measure, which heads to the Senate, also mandates new training and reporting by the Department of Correction to improve management of inmates and reduce instances of solitary confinement.

The top House members on the Judiciary Committee, Democrat William Tong of Stamford and Republican Rosa Rebimbas of Naugatuck, both said the measure was the product of many hours of work by committee members from both parties.

Besides banning solitary for children, the bill also requires the correction department to report annually on inmates assigned to solitary, publishing information on age, gender, mental health issues and ethnicity.

It also mandates training for correction staff that interact with inmates, covering:

  • Recognition of symptoms of mental illness;
  • Techniques for safe management of the mentally ill;
  • Risks and side effects of psychiatric drugs;
  • And de-escalation techniques to encourage inmates to avoid behavior that could lead to solitary confinement.