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Durbin: Solitary Confinement Needs Improvement in U.S. Prisons

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U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin says a new report shows why the prison system needs to improve its use of solitary confinement.

Durbin, the Assistant Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate, says he's visited prisons that rely heavily on solitary confinement, including the now-closed Tamms Correctional Center in southern Illinois.

He says sometimes segregating prisoners is warranted. But he worries about an over-reliance because he says it can cause psychological damage for prisoners.

"Ninety-five percent of the people who go to prison end up out of prison someday, and if you turn a person out who's been damaged mentally by the segregation, then it's a risk to everyone else outside, once they're released," he said.

Durbin called for an audit of the Federal Bureau of Prison's use of restrictive housing. The report, conducted by an independent public research group, found that many prisons don't have an adequate facility for inmates with mental disabilities or those who need additional protection.

It recommends establishing time limits and a better review of referrals to solitary confinement.

Lisa Ryan is a graduate student in the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She previously worked at Indiana Public Radio and the college radio station founded by David Letterman. She is a 2014 broadcast journalism and political science graduate of Ball State University.
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