I commend our state Sen. Jill Vogel for stepping up as the chief co-patron of a bill which would limit the use of solitary confinement in our state correctional system. In Virginia, solitary confinement for adults is considered 20 hours per day in isolation away from the rest of the prison population, and 17 hours a day for juvenile offenders.
This is not a “law and order” issue but a moral and mental health issue to prohibit punishment which can result in “torture,” depending on the number of days and the hours per day as defined by internationally recognized rules. Solitary confinement is proven to exacerbate mental health illness and reducing the use of this practice can create safer prisons, as well as safer communities when prisoners are released.
This bill will prohibit this practice except in rare circumstances—such as when a prisoner poses a real and imminent threat of physical harm—and only for as little time as necessary. Though this bill will not affect regional detention facilities, such as the one in Warrenton, Fauquier residents are held at state prisons throughout Virginia.
As the author of Hebrews in the New Testament writes in Chapter 13, verse 3: “Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.”
Thank you, Sen. Vogel, for your moral courage and leadership, and I encourage all Fauquier residents to communicate their support of this bill.
member of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy- Northern Piedmont chapter