President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks at the El Reno Federal Correctional Institution, Okla., July 16, 2015.
Photo by Evan Vucci/AP

Obama to end solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons


President Barack Obama on Monday ordered the U.S. federal prison system to ban solitary confinement for juvenile offenders, the White House said in a statement.

Obama also said he planned to divert inmates with serious mental illness to alternative forms of housing and to limit the use of “punitive segregation,” the statement said.

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“These steps will affect some 10,000 federal prisoners held in solitary confinement — and hopefully serve as a model for state and local corrections systems,” Obamawrote in an op-ed in the Washington Post published Monday evening. “And I will direct all relevant federal agencies to review these principles and report back to me with a plan to address their use of solitary confinement.”

The move came after a Justice Department inquiry that began last summer and examined the overuse of solitary confinement in American prisons.

Officials concluded that solitary should still be used for the “most violent and disruptive inmates,” a statement said. “But as a matter of policy, we believe strongly this practice should be used rarely, applied fairly, and subjected to reasonable constraints.”

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