Watchdog Accuses New Jersey Corrections of Illegally Holding Hundreds in Solitary

A new watchdog report accuses New Jersey corrections officials of violating state law by routinely holding hundreds of people in solitary confinement for months and even up to a year, reports Dana Difillipo for the New Jersey Monitor. While the 2019 state law prohibits prisons and jails from holding someone in solitary for more than 20 hours a day, more than 20 consecutive days, or more than 30 days during a 60-day period, the watchdog claims that, on any given day, about 750 people are living in isolation in so-called prison “restorative housing units.”

The people being held in these units leave their cells for less than an hour a day for daily necessities like showering, medical appointments, and recreation, the report notes. The state law also requires staff to give people in solitary at least four hours outside their cells daily; and declares solitary confinement so psychologically “devastating” that it “should only be used when necessary.” The watchdog noted that “barriers,” such as staff shortages and unexpected daily disruptions, can drive corrections staff to hold people in isolation longer than the law allows.


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