Pennsylvania State Capitol. Pennsylvania State Capitol. Photo credit: Zack Frank/

Rep. Tina Davis, D-Bucks, has proposed barring solitary confinement of specific inmate populations, the use of restraint chairs, chemical agents and shackles during solitary confinement and prohibiting solitary confinement over 15 days for all inmates.

In her memo, Davis said she would prohibit the use of solitary confinement on pregnant women, LGBTQ prisoners, inmates under the age of 21 and inmates over the age of 70 in Pennsylvania.

She said her proposed legislation would include alternatives to solitary confinement, such as an inmate losing their privileges and “informal sanctions,” “a step-down program with rehabilitation.” She also suggested appointing an independent investigator for each prison that would be entrusted with supervising inmates in solitary confinement and reporting abuse. Davis also said her legislation would add a civilian review board to preside over misconduct hearings, which would include a psychologist or psychiatrist, a mental health worker with a counseling background and a licensed social worker.

Davis called solitary confinement “a form of torture, not a rehabilitative tool” that is an “unethical and inhumane practice of placing our most vulnerable populations in isolation for days, weeks, or even months on end” and can lead to “devastating effects on themselves and their families.”

— Victoria Hudgins, of the Law Weekly •