Regarding the Oct. 14 editorial “Easing the torture of solitary”:
While it may be true that nationwide, the number of incarcerated people in solitary is decreasing, Maryland and Virginia are significant abusers of solitary confinement.
In fiscal 2017, 50 percent of the Maryland prison population was in solitary at least once. The average length of stay was 45 days. Moreover, more than 500 people were released directly from solitary to the community. These statistics are reported by the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services in its annual report.
In Virginia, the public does not know how many people have been placed in solitary nor what the average length of stay is. However, Interfaith Action for Human Rights has gathered significant anecdotal evidence that many individuals in Maryland and Virginia prisons have been in solitary for months and years. No judge sentences a person to solitary; it is always deployed at the discretion of the warden. Moreover, a number of states, such as Colorado, have effectively ended putting people in isolation.
It is time for Maryland and Virginia to put an end to this abuse of incarcerated people.
Charles Feinberg, Washington
The writer, a rabbi, is executive director of Interfaith Action for Human Rights.