We are a national task force of social workers dedicated to confronting the issue of solitary confinement, both on a macro-level as a core mechanism of our racist and classist system of mass incarceration, and on a micro-level as a practice that social workers in correctional settings actively and passively participate in, while being simultaneously charged with upholding the human rights and dignity of all people.
Our objective is to provide social workers and other mental health professionals working in solitary confinement units with a safe platform from which to explore the practical and ethical conflicts of working in this setting. We are also committed to collaborating with national social work institutions to take a unified professional stand against the use of solitary confinement. Specifically, we hope to:
1. Develop mechanisms and policies that support individuals affected by solitary confinement, which include:
– Individuals who have been held in solitary for extended or indefinite periods of time;
– Social work and mental health professionals charged with the care of those held in solitary confinement;
– Correctional personnel who staff these grim units.
2. Collaborate with social work institutions and other mental health organizations to take a public stance on solitary confinement as cruel and unusual punishment. Specifically:
– Seek opportunities to influence policies on the federal, state, and local level to severely restrict the use of solitary confinement in jails and prisons, and to eliminate its use for adolescents, people with mental illnesses, and other vulnerable populations,
– Create and disseminate reports and publications to motivate the social work profession to action around the immediacy of this issue;
– Mobilize a national coalition, in conjunction with existing advocacy groups, to push for the abolition of prolonged solitary confinement;
– Reduce the use of solitary confinement by supporting alternative practices that provide for the safety of correctional staff, civilian health workers, and the larger inmate population, while responding humanely to problematic behavior inside jail/prison.
The Social Workers Against Solitary Confinement Task Force (SWASC TF) came into existence in October, 2014. We seek to end solitary confinement and we base our actions on our Mission and Vision Statements. We invite you to join SWASC TF; to contribute your time, energy and resources to help us to accomplish our goal.