02/23/2011 01:01 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Solitary Confinement Targeted By Bill In Colorado Legislature

A bill introduced this week in the Colorado State Senate this week seeks to decrease the number of mentally disabled prisoners in solitary confinement by establishing strict guidelines for when the practice can be implemented.

Senate Bill 176, sponsored by Aurora Democrat Morgan Carroll, would require that prisoners undergo a mental health examination before being placed in solitary confinement. It would also mandate the creation of "classification committees" at each correction facility to determine which inmates should be separated from the prison population. Additionally, SB176 would ensure that inmates placed in solitary confinement have "time to reintegrate into the general correctional population prior to his or her release into the community."

"What we get from continuing the policy of placing prisoners with mental health issues or developmental disabilities in solitary confinement is increased costs for incarceration, increased recidivism rates and reduced public safety," Carroll said in a news release from the Colorado ACLU. "Especially in tough economic times, we can do better by using cost-saving mental health evaluation and treatment options rather than budget-busting solitary confinement."

a 2008 study in Colorado showed that a disproportionately high number of inmates placed in solitary confinement had mental illnesses or developmental disabilities.

The ACLU says that solitary confinement increases the cost of housing an inmate from $14,933 to $21,485 per year, per inmate.

The bill was introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee. A date has not yet been set for a hearing.