He wasn't getting enough time out of his cell. His complaint to DRO led to systemic policy change. #AdvocacyMatters

March 22, 2019 / #AdvocacyMatters

David has a diagnosed mental illness and has been placed in solitary confinement in a state correctional facility. He felt his mental health was deteriorating and believed that he was not getting enough out-of-cell time in line with state prison policy. He attempted to advocate for himself, but he wasn't seeing any progress. Hoping that outside intervention might improve his situation, David reached out to Disability Rights Ohio for help.

A DRO attorney investigated David's claim by looking through the facility's out-of-cell time records. The attorney found that David was correct -- his entire unit had not had any recreation time at all over a month-long period. In response, DRO's attorney reached out to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) to alert them of the problem. Shortly after, the ODRC responded by updating their policies to better track and monitor restrictive housing and out of-cell time. These policy changes not only benefited David, but they also made systematic changes to the entire state prison system.

David was eventually transferred to a new facility, which he saw as an opportunity for a fresh start. He wrote to the DRO attorney to inform him that he is now receiving more out-of-cell time and that the staff are treating him much better. David is extremely grateful for DRO's intervention and excited for the chance to prove he can rejoin the general inmate population over time.

Extensive research has shown that solitary confinement requires more government spending, provides no safety improvement to correctional facilities, and actually increases mental illness and suicides. More than 95% of people in prison will one day be released back into our communities, so we all benefit when prisons are places where rehabilitation can happen. Read more about the problems with solitary confinement in the report DRO issued in partnership with ACLU of Ohio in 2016, along with our comments about some improvements the department made soon after.

A new governor means that ODRC now has a new director, and DRO anticipates further improvements to solitary confinement.


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