The Mandela Act, Bill Tackling Prison Issues Including Solitary Confinement, Reintroduced in California    

PC: Spencer Tamichi
Via Unsplash.com

By Zainab Antepli

SACRAMENTO, CA – “The California Mandela Act on Solitary Confinement,” AB 280, has been introduced for the 2023 legislative session, authored by Assemblymember Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), and is a “reintroduction” of a similar measure last session.

Holden’s office said AB 280 “is a reintroduction of AB-2632, a bill that sought comprehensive reform on the issue of solitary confinement in jails, prisons and private detention facilities” which also includes “placing limits on the use of long term solitary confinement, and providing a clear definition of what constitutes solitary confinement across facilities in California.”

The bill, according to a statement issued by Holden’s office, would “also protect the designated populations from ever being placed in solitary confinement including pregnant people, the elderly and those with certain disabilities.”

This new version of the Mandela Act incorporates, as the lawmaker points out, “specific language that addresses concerns raised by the opposition, and is designed to set minimum standards for all carceral facilities that should not conflict with higher regulations introduced by CDCR.”

Said Holden,  “I agree with the Governor’s assessment, and believe that comprehensive reform is needed for our jails and private detention facilities as well. We begin this year with the desire to work towards finding solutions on this issue for all carceral facilities. Torture is torture no matter what facility it takes place in.”

State Senator Maria Elena Durazo (D-Los Angeles), said, “While California has been at the forefront of leading the nation with critical criminal justice and incarceration reforms, we have not updated the solitary confinement practices in our prisons. This is a critical human rights issue.”

Durazo added, “There have been too many cases of abuses like the horrific overuse of solitary confinement. As a state we insist we must stand strong on the values of decency and respect for humane standards.”

Jack Morris, a “peer community health adviser and solitary survivor with the California Mandela Campaign,” according to Holden’s office, said, “Solitary confinement damages the mind, body and soul of those who experience it. Beyond that it also damages families, communities and our society. California can and must end this destructive practice.”

Solitary confinement, the author’s office argues, “remains a common practice in California’s prisons, jails and private immigration detention facilities…more than 50,000 people are in solitary confinement throughout the United States, and numerous states have introduced legislation seeking to limit the practice.”

Assemblymember Holden argues, “California Mandela Act originated from the harmful and damaging experiences of people who have been held in prolonged solitary confinement, especially vulnerable populations such as people who are pregnant or seriously disabled.”

The “Mandela Act creates a window of hope and builds on the decades of work done by detained individuals, activists and organizers and allows for constructive alternatives,” Holden noted.

About The Author

Zainab is a senior at the University of California, Berkeley, studying Political Science and Global Studies (with an emphasis in Peace and Conflict Studies in the Americas) along with a minor in Spanish. She is set to graduate May 2023. Zainab is from North Carolina and her parents are Turkish. She is intended pre-law and wants to go to law school after a two gap years to gain more work experience. She has helped her family from Turkey gain political asylum and residency due to the dictatorial regime in Turkey, therefore, she is passionate about standing firm against injustice. Zainab is fluent in: English, Spanish, and Turkish.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
$ USD
Sign up for