THE ANTHONY GAY LAW
Anthony Gay was sentenced in 1994 at the age of 20 for stealing a hat and a dollar bill. An altercation with another inmate landed him in solitary confinement. Anthony Gay spent 22 years in solitary confinement and is now fighting to ensure no other prisoner in Illinois goes through the same psychological torture he went through. His time in solitary confinement nearly broke him. Anthony was held in solitary confinement for up to 24 hours a day in a cold, tiny cell which he compared to a dungeon. Instead of allowing Anthony to receive professional mental health help, they extended his time in solitary confinement.
According to the Prison Policy Initiative, 80,000 inmates are held in a form of solitary confinement every day across the United States. 10,000 inmates are released into society from solitary confinement every year and have an increased risk of anxiety, depression, and suicide. Although individuals in solitary confinement account for less than 10% of the prison population, they account for almost half of suicide deaths.
Illinois currently has no limits on how long a person can be held in solitary confinement. The Anthony Gay Law was introduced this year and would limit a prisoner's time in solitary confinement to no more than 10 days in any 180-day period. It would also guarantee inmates access to exercise, educational classes, medical appointments, visits, and therapy. The law also provides that the Department of Corrections post quarterly reports of the use of solitary confinement on the Department's website. It has already passed in the state House and is being considered by the state Senate.
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