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Advocates Welcome AB 2632 (Holden) ‘California Mandela Act’ Targeting Solitary Confinement in

Updated: Feb 23

For immediate release: February 18, 2022

Contact: Melody Pomraning, Communications Director, Disability Rights California


Hamid Yazdan Panah, Advocacy Director, Immigrant Defense Advocates

Greg Fidell, Policy Manager, Initiate Justice

Advocates Welcome AB 2632 (Holden) ‘California Mandela Act’ Targeting Solitary Confinement in Jails, Prisons and Immigration Detention Facilities 

(Sacramento, CA) A coalition of organizations focused on criminal justice, immigration detention and disability rights have come together in solidarity to sponsor AB 2632 (Holden) the California Mandela Act on Solitary Confinement. The legislation builds on growing momentum generated by recent bills passed on solitary confinement in Colorado and New York, and is inspired by the United Nations Nelson Mandela Rules, which defines prolonged solitary confinement as torture.

The bill, authored by Assemblymember Chris Holden, is focused on one of the most important human rights issues of our time: solitary confinement. The bill, which defines solitary confinement as any period of confinement that exceeds 17 hours in a cell, mandates that facilities document any instance in which solitary is used, and places limits on the duration any person can be held in this manner. The bill also bans the use of solitary confinement for certain populations including people who are pregnant, have disabilities, or fall within certain age limits.

The use of solitary confinement in jails, prisons and immigration detention facilities has been common practice for decades, with horrific consequences for those detained. While too numerous to list here, some of the most compelling stories include people who have been held in solitary for decades, allegations that a woman held in solitary gave birth alone at the Santa Rita Jail in 2018, and numerous reports demonstrating the link between suicide and solitary confinement.

This harm has only been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic, with facilities increasing their use of restrictive lockdowns that deprive individuals of social contact and basic human dignity. Advocates are particularly moved to seek justice for those who have been harmed or lost their lives during solitary confinement. This includes Choung Woong Ahn, a 74-year-old Korean immigrant who was found dead after being placed in solitary confinement at the Mesa Verde Detention facility, used to detain immigrants by the for-profit GEO Group.

Solitary confinement has historically been used as an instrument of violence towards those who are detained, particularly people of color. We must recognize the leadership of detained and formerly incarcerated individuals, and their families who have worked tirelessly on this issue. In 2013, more than 30,000 people organized inside California prisons to protest solitary confinement. They are part of a global movement to challenge the basic assumptions we have around the caging of people in every nation.

Today, the California Mandela Act builds on the decades of work done by detained individuals, activists and organizers to shed light on the darkness that is solitary confinement, and continue to move towards the ultimate goal of liberation for all.

Organizations Sponsoring the California Mandela Act

Immigrant Defense Advocates

NextGen California

Disability Rights California

Initiate Justice

California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice

Prison Law Office