In July of 2015, President Obama took the unprecedented step of visiting a federal prison while he still held office. Perhaps his recent announcement was influenced by that visit. On Monday January 25 President Obama announced that solitary confinement for juvenile convicts in federal prisons would no longer be allowed. While his announcement only directly impacts federal prisons, many in the criminal defense field and active in the prison reform movement hope that all jails and prisons will re-consider using solitary confinement for juveniles. In his announcement, the president echoed what many psychologists have been arguing for years: solitary confinement has a high risk of contributing to depression and suicide in those who are held in solitary for extended periods of time.
The president also stated that new rules will be implemented regarding solitary confinement for all inmates in federal prisons. He stated that the punishment should be used much less frequently than it is currently and should never be used with juvenile inmates as they are most susceptible to the catastrophic consequences of solitary.