Why Is Dane County Doubling Solitary Confinement Capacity?
From Nino Rodriguez:
Community members have questions, and want answers!
Why are Dane County’s elected officials about to spend $99 million to more than doublethe jail's capacityto cage people—mostly Black people—in solitary confinement?
The conclusion that the jail proposal will drastically increase the capacity to cage people —especially Black people—in solitary confinement is based on a careful review of the floor plans and cell descriptions in the old Option 1 plan, as adjusted by the new Option 3 plan.
The following are key questions that community members need answered, along with the best answers currently available:
Q: What is “solitary confinement”?
A: Caging a person, isolated, without meaningful social interaction, more than 22 hours per day.
Q: In the current jail, how many cells are used for solitary confinement?
Q: In the new jail proposal, how many cells are designed to hold one person?
A: 114 cells are “single cells” designed for single occupancy.
Q: Will the new jail cells’ doors eliminate bars, which have been a safety hazard?
A: Yes, all new cells will have solid doors. This means that all 114 single cells could be used for solitary confinement because the doors can be completely sealed.
Q: How many new cells are designedto be used for solitary confinement?
A: At least 50 of the new cells are designed for isolation, with high-security doors, and slots for food. These cells are designed to isolate people as much as possible, including during meals. Additionally, there are at least four "safety cells" with “rubberized” surfaces, but no sink or toilet.
Q: Who will be most impacted by this increase in solitary confinement?
Q: Didn’t the County Board commit to reducing the use of solitary confinement?
Q: What can community members do to stop solitary confinement?
A: Demand that Dane County elected officials immediately stop all jail construction plans, and instead make a significant capital budget investment in planning effective jail alternatives, such as transitional housing, a restoration center, and community-based mental wellness facilities.
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