A bill introduced in the United States senate aims to limit the role of solitary confinement in the punishment of federal inmates.

“If the goal of our criminal justice system is to rehabilitate offenders and prepare them for successful reentry into our society,  solitary confinement undermines this objective, causing psychological harm that is difficult, if not impossible, to undo,” said Dick Durbin (D-IL).

The Solitary Confinement Reform Act, introduced by Durbin and supported by current presidential hopefuls Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren, limits solitary confinement to the briefest term and the least restrictive conditions possible. The bill would also improve access to mental health services for federal prisoners in solitary confinement and provide resources to state and local jurisdictions to assist them in reforming their own confinement practices.

“The excessive use of solitary confinement in our nation’s prisons is a violation of human dignity and worth,” Booker said. “There are far better ways to ensure the safety of correctional officers, prison workers, and people behind bars than locking someone up in solitary confinement."

Democrats have tried to restrict the use of solitary confinement before. In January 2016, President Obama announced that he had accepted a number of the Justice Department’s recommendations to reform and reduce the practice of solitary confinement in the federal prison system—including implementing the ban on juvenile solitary confinement.

“As incarcerated people repay their debt to society and prepare to re-enter their communities, we must also ensure that prison facilities are respecting their basic human rights,” Harris said.

Experts have estimated that nearly 8 percent of the federal prison population is in solitary confinement or some form of restrictive housing.

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