Legislators Call For Solitary Confinement Prison Data, Mental Health Standards For Jails
Virginia’s Department of Corrections says about 15 percent of people in the state’s prisons have a mental illness. Some end up in solitary confinement because of money and staffing shortages. Legislation has been introduced this year designed to address that, and put mental health standards in place for local and regional jails.
A few years ago, Kevin Newby spent about a year in Riverside regional jail, where he was diagnosed with delusional disorder. He says he was kept in solitary confinement for over six months. For a while, he was only allowed to leave his cell to shower.
“And I had to take a shower in chains and handcuffs and everything,” Newby said. “So they only freed one hand for me to wash myself with and dry myself off with. And then I was just put straight back into my cell.”
State law doesn’t require local and regional jails -- or state prisons -- to collect or release data about their use of solitary confinement. And lawmakers say the data that does exist is flawed.