There was a consensus to reduce solitary confinement. But it hasn’t translated into action

February 28th, 2019

The Boston Globe
February 27th, 2019
By Adrian Walker

Can Massachusetts break its longstanding bond with solitary confinement?

That question was supposed to have been settled in 2018. As the state enacted sweeping criminal justice reforms, one feature of the new law was a concerted effort to drive down the number of prisoners being held under restrictive conditions.

But along with the reforms to other outdated policies was a mandate to curb — not end, but reduce — solitary confinement.

A commission created under the law to review and implement the new policy has yet to hold a single meeting, or even to announce who its members will be.

Does that strike you as a robust commitment to change?

“They were given a mandate, and I don’t think they’ve taken it seriously,” said Elizabeth Matos, executive director of Prisoners’ Legal Services of Massachusetts, an advocacy group for the incarcerated.

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