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Would-be Illinois law seeks adjustments to solitary confinement

We submit at the Illinois Metro East criminal defense firm of Sullivan Law that the following tale with resonate with many of our blog readers. They might reasonably regard it as a ready catalyst for a fundamental change to the state’s current practice regarding prisoners’ stays in solitary confinement.

Those stays can be both recurrently and lengthy.

Just ask Anthony Gay.

The details concerning Gay’s personal narrative are unusual and harrowing. That is especially the case given that he was originally sentenced to a relatively short prison term back in 1994 for committing a robbery that netted a man’s hat and a single dollar.

But then the solitary confinement terms began, which commenced a self-damaging series of responsive behaviors by Gay that yielded a seemingly endless cycle of repeat solitary visits.

The bottom line: Gay ultimately spent 24 years locked up before being released in 2018. Astonishingly, 22 of those years were marked by his absolute isolation in solitary confinement.

A state legislator who is leading the charge for change states that such an outcome goes flatly beyond rational punishment to embrace torture.

“There is a difference putting someone behind bars and putting someone in a hole,” said Rep. La Shawn Ford (D-Chicago) recently.

Ford has authored a reform bill to institute tighter controls over solitary punishment in Illinois. The legislation is termed the Anthony Gay Isolated Confinement Restriction Act. Reportedly (and understandably), the prospective law commands broad and bipartisan support. It is currently working its way through the Illinois General Assembly.