President Barack Obama has opted to make some changes to the federal criminal justice system on his own, rather than waiting for Congress to pass an overhaul measure during an election year. And his new solitary confinement rules have already won the praise of one GOP presidential candidate.
Solitary confinement will no longer be used on juveniles or individuals accused or convicted of low-level crimes, Obama announced Monday in a newspaper op-ed. He also is expanding treatment for the mentally ill and ramping up the amount of time inmates subjected to solitary confinement get to spend outside their cells. Collectively, the changes will affect 10,000 federal prisoners, according to the White House. Those changes stemmed from an Obama-ordered Justice Department review of federal solitary confinement policies that began last summer. That review determined holding prisoners in solitary can be a “necessary tool” in instances such as prisoners needing to be in isolation for their protection, Obama wrote in the opinion piece in the Washington Post.