Oprah Spotlights Solitary Confinement as Movement to Rethink its Use Picks Up Steam

Across the country, in red states and blue, we’ve seen a growing momentum to answer with compassion.

Two members of the SAS Initiative Advisory Council, Dr. Craig Haney and Danny Murillo, are prominently featured in Winfrey’s report. Both Murillo and Haney speak to the trauma of long-term restrictive housing, and both also have intimate knowledge of the impacts of solitary confinement at Pelican Bay—Dr. Haney as a social psychologist, and Danny Murillo through his personal experiences.

On his experience in Pelican Bay’s secure housing unit, Murillo says, “It was created to break me, mentally, physically, and spiritually.”

How can America create a system that doesn’t do those things? To do so, we must answer Winfrey’s initial question: “Why do people who are incarcerated deserve hope?” Across the country, in red states and blue, we’ve seen a growing momentum to answer with compassion.

California Corrections Secretary Scott Kernan answered Winfrey, stating unequivocally, “They're people. They're all coming out to be our neighbors. Why wouldn't we spend the resources and create an environment where when they come out, they're better people than when they got here? I just think it makes all the sense in the world. It's common sense.”

We agree. Creating an environment that allows people the chance to be better is exactly what our partner agencies are endeavoring to do. It’s vital work that ensures people and their communities have the opportunity to thrive.