Liman Center Testifies on Proposed Solitary Confinement Legislation


In early August, Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law, was invited to present expert testimony for a policy hearing of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee, “Ending the Unethical Use of Solitary Confinement in PA.”

WATCH: Testimony of Professor Judith Resnik to the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic Policy Committee (starting at 54:58)

The testimony addressed a proposed bill to limit the use of solitary confinement in Pennsylvania. Resnik — joined by Liman Director and Visiting Professor Jenny Carroll, Curtis-Liman Clinical Fellow Skylar Albertson ’18, and Yale Law students Sarita Benesch ’23 and Wynne Graham ’23 — analyzed the text of the Pennsylvania draft and put it in the context of the dozens of other statutes proposed or enacted since 2018. A few legislatures such as Colorado, New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New Mexico have enacted comprehensive reforms that constrain the use of solitary confinement. Other statutes focus on subpopulations, including young and pregnant people and individuals with mental health challenges. These statutes include those enacted in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington, among others.

The testimony also drew on other work of the Liman Center’s researchers, who are part of collaborative efforts underway since 2013 to track the rules governing solitary confinement, the numbers of people held in prison in isolation, and the conditions of their confinement. This research is part of a longitudinal study, and the most recently published volume is Time-in-Cell 2019: A Snapshot of Restrictive Housing

READ MORE: Proposed legislation background and hearing testimony

The Liman Center promotes access to justice and the fair treatment of individuals and groups seeking to use the legal system. Through research projects, teaching, fellowships, and colloquia, the Liman Center supports efforts to bring about a more just legal system.