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The momentum around banning solitary confinement in Virginia continues to grow


Once again, lawmakers in Richmond are talking about banning the practice of holding incarcerated people in solitary confinement. But, this year the effort has new momentum.

Republican Delegate Glenn Davis and Democratic House Leader Don Scott are working together to ban solitary confinement at state prisons, and the effort is already moving forward in the House. Davis and Scott even toured a prison in Sussex together, and now the Democratic leader says it's time to end the practice some advocates call torture.

"Want to make sure that folks are not put in a situation that exacerbates any mental health issues," Scott says. "We want to make sure people get treated humanely, make sure people have human contact, and we wanted to make sure that we put that as a statement of our values in the Virginia code."

Davis says his bill will improve the lives of people who are incarcerated.

"People who are not allowed outside of a cell and no human interaction for let's say a month could develop significant mental health challenges if they don't already have them going in," Davis explains. "This assures that no one is in a cell more than 20 hours a day, and it ensures no one’s in that environment where they are restricted more than 15 days consecutively unless there are severe exceptions."

His bill received a unanimous vote in subcommittee and is now on its way to the Appropriations Committee.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.