(TRENTON) – Assembly Conference Leader Shavonda Sumter (D-Bergen, Passaic) expressed her disappointment yesterday over the Governor’s absolute veto of the bill to restrict the use of solitary confinement in New Jersey’s. Sumter sponsored the bill in the Assembly in light of a ban implemented in January by the White House that prohibits juveniles and those with a mental illness from receiving solitary confinement in federal jails.
“It is extremely disheartening that Gov. Christie has decided to veto the bill banning solitary confinement in the state’s prison system. Our prison systems are supposed to rehabilitate – not do harm. Isolation is not rehabilitation.
“The ban on solitary confinement instituted by the White House was a progressive measure that recognized the need to take a closer look at this practice in our prison systems.
“To put someone in solitary with no regard for their mental state and medical health is inhumane and counterproductive to rehabilitation. Solitary confinement should be employed as a last resort only in extreme cases and with extreme care. Inmates may have committed a crime but they are still human beings. Their lives are very important to their friends and family.
“While in the prison system, these citizens are under our care and there should be specific guidelines for solitary confinement in place that takes into consideration an inmates age, health and mental health and ensures their safety. This bill, if enacted, would have done exactly that.
“This was an opportunity for the Governor to refrain from political theater and do what’s right for the people of New Jersey.”