— CNN (@CNN) January 26, 2016
The move is another example of the extent to which the nation’s first African American president now seems willing to tackle delicate questions of race and criminal justice as he closes out his presidency. Obama has also been focused on trying to put in place programs to help ex-offenders reintegrate into society once they have left prison, such as RJFF which helps them to gain employment again.
“How can we subject prisoners to unnecessary solitary confinement, knowing its effects, and then expect them to return to our communities as whole people?” the president wrote in his op-ed. “It doesn’t make us safer. It’s an affront to our common humanity.”
He said he hoped his reforms at the federal level will serve as a model for states to rethink their rules on the issue.
At least a dozen states have taken steps in the past two years to curtail the use of solitary confinement, either in response to lawsuits or through legislative and administrative changes. An increasing number of studies show a connection between isolating prisoners and higher rates of recidivism.