NIJO Resolution Opposing H.R. 4972 and S.3409 in the 118th Congress on the Elimination of Solitary Confinement
WHEREAS: NIJO represents the interests of corrections and detention professionals across the United States who detain or incarcerate local, state, and federal offenders and,
WHEREAS: NIJO recognizes the important responsibility of corrections and detention officials to manage and operate constitutionally safe and secure facilities and,
WHEREAS: There are numerous administrative and operational challenges associated with the management and housing of inmates or detainees who pose a serious threat to self, other inmates/detainees, officers and staff, and the security and order of the facility and,
WHEREAS: Corrections and detention facilities have established processes for the classification and management of inmates/detainees utilizing many different factors to provide a safe and secure environment and,
WHEREAS: The use of restrictive housing or segregation status housing is utilized by numerous corrections and detention agencies for both administrative and disciplinary purposes for the protection of the inmate/detainee, other inmates/detainees, and staff within said facilities to house inmates/detainees who present a substantial danger to self or others should they be permitted to congregate or interact with other inmates/detainees or staff if unrestrained or permitted uncontrolled movement when out-of-cell and,
WHEREAS: Corrections and detention facilities operate under unique legislation, state laws and judicial orders, physical facility configurations, populations and management issues requiring local solutions, administrative deference and individualized policies and procedures to manage this population and,
WHEREAS: H.R. 4972 and its companion bill S.3409 mandates the elimination of the use of undefined “solitary confinement” except under extremely limited conditions which ignore and override those individual legal requirements, administrative deference and local solutions and consideration of substantial risks of harm that certain inmates/detainees present to others if unrestrained or permitted uncontrolled movement when out-of-cell and,
WHEREAS: The issues and concerns regarding the said legislation dangerously ignores the legally mandated principles of which corrections and detention professionals must adhere including deliberate indifference and the duty to protect while unnecessarily creating liberty interests for inmates which supersede established rights, fail to procure funding to support such measures, increase staffing levels which are already exhausted, and depend upon the external availability of local community resources and support to meet compliance to said requirements.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
The National Institute for Jail Operations calls on members of the United States House of Representatives and Senate to defeat H.R. 4972, its companion bill S.3409 in the 118th Congress (2023), and any subsequent bills of this nature.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED:
As corrections and detention facilities statistically house the largest population of mentally ill individuals in the United States, even though such custody and care is undesired by all parties involved, is more costly to taxpayers, and fails to solve or mitigate related mental health issues and challenges for that population, any future proposed federal legislation pertaining to the custody, care and control of incarcerated and detained individuals should focus on the root problem of mental illness plaguing our corrections facilities and communities as a whole by addressing solutions to better serve and manage mental illness.
Hereby resolved this 7th day of February, 2024.
Tate McCotter, NIJO Executive Director
We call upon corrections administrators, sheriffs, wardens, and all individuals who work in our great profession to read and study these proposed bills and contact their respective state legislators to express concerns and views immediately. The highest courts of the land have emphasized the importance of administrative discretion by experts in the profession. These bills have been written without such consultation or feedback. It is our expert opinion these bills will assuredly lead to unnecessary assaults and death of the very population the bills claim to be protecting. If you would like further information pertaining to this matter, please contact NIJO staff.