April 28, 2014
DENVER – Statement of ACLU of Colorado Public Policy Director Denise Maes on SB 64, a bill to ban long-term solitary confinement of prisoners with serious mental illness, which passed the Colorado House of Representatives this morning after receiving unanimous approval by the Senate earlier this month.
“The ACLU of Colorado commends the state legislature for banning the cruel, costly, and unlawful practice of warehousing prisoners with serious mental illness in long-term solitary confinement.
“This legislation, passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, solidifies and provides critical funding for policies initiated recently by Department of Corrections Director Rick Raemisch that provide adequate out-of-cell treatment for prisoners with serious mental illness, rather than sticking those prisoners in 23 hour-a-day solitary cells. Treatment aimed at rehabilitation is critical, because 97% of today’s prison population will eventually return to our communities and live as our neighbors.
“The legislature’s overwhelming support of SB 64 is also a fitting tribute to the legacy of the late Tom Clements. Today’s vote moves Colorado one step closer to realizing the former Director’s stated desire of bringing greater safety to the public and humanity to the prisons by ending our state’s historic over-reliance on solitary confinement.
“The ACLU of Colorado values our ongoing partnership with Director Raemisch and his staff, as we continue to work together toward our mutual goal of ending the brutal and inhumane use of long-term solitary confinement in all forms.”
Visit the Stop Solitary campaign page at: https://aclu-co.org/campaigns/stop-solitary/
Read our report on mentally ill Colorado prisoners in solitary confinement: https://aclu-co.org/news/co-prisons-continue-to-warehouse-mentally-ill-in-solitary-confinement
Watch Out of Sight, Out of Mind – The Story of Sam Mandez, about a Colorado man who spent more than 15 years in solitary confinement and suffers from debilitating mental illness: http://vimeo.com/78840078