The Legality of Solitary Confinement Under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals with "a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities," (ADA Sec. 12102), are to be protected from discrimination and offered reasonable alternatives to navigate their spaces. Mentally ill prisoners are under the protection of the ADA, making the use of solitary confinement as a punitive tool for this population a blatant defiance of the law. Solitary confinement is capable of shattering any healthy mind, and is associated with higher rates of self harm. In addition, the use of solitary confinement denies the prisoners several benefits given to the prison population, ranging from access to emergency services to proper therapy and treatment. This paper examines the history of solitary confinement in the United States, the illegality of imposing it on the mentally ill and presents alternatives for addressing mentally ill prisoners within the United States, focusing on the New York and Pennsylvania prison systems.
LicenseAuthors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).