AB 280 (Holden) - The California Mandela Act

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AB 280 (Holden) - The California Mandela Act

Solitary confinement is one of the most severe and destructive practices used in detention facilities. The World Health Organization, United Nations, and other international bodies have recognized solitary confinement as greatly harmful and potentially fatal. People with disabilities, pregnant people, youth, and the elderly are all at heightened risk from the harm caused by solitary confinement inside jails, prisons, and immigrant detention centers in California.

The solution is AB 280, the California Mandela Act, which:

  • Bans solitary confinement for specific populations including
    • Individuals with mental, physical and developmental disabilities
    • Pregnant people
    • People under 26 or over 59 years old
  • Sets limits for confinement to not more than 15 consecutive days, or 20 days total in any 60-day period
  • Requires facilities to keep clear records on the use of solitary confinement in order to provide public transparency
  • Defines segregated confinement in California law

AB 280 does not eliminate individual housing when appropriate or necessary including after the 15-day solitary confinement limit. Instead, the bill allows individuals to be held in alternative housing units including transition pods or residential rehabilitation units if and when appropriate to ensure their safety and the safety of others, with access to out of cell time and support services.

Cost Analysis


In May of 2020, Mr. Choung Woong Ahn, a 74 year old Korean man took his own life after being placed in solitary confinement during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, in violation of the facility’s own protocols related to mental health and welfare.

Mr. Ahn’s tragedy set in motion a coalition between disability and civil rights organizations to create this legislation and achieve a solution. Disability Rights California joined the California Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement, University of California Underground Scholars Initiative, Immigrant Defense Advocates, California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, NextGen Policy, and the Prison Law Office to form the California Mandela Campaign.

Where is the bill now?

  • AB 280 passed off the Senate Floor on September 13, 2023. It is now a two-year bill and will be up for a Concurrence vote in 2024.
  • AB 280 passed out of Senate Appropriations on September 1, 2023
  • AB 280 passed off the Assembly floor with a super majority.
  • AB 280 passed out of Assembly Appropriations on May 18th. 
  • AB 280 was heard in Assembly Public Safety Committee on March 14th, 2023 and passed out of the committee!

We need your help to pass this bill! What can you do?

You can find a sample support letter to submit here:
AB 280 (Holden) Template Letter of Support (docx)

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More Resources

  • For a factsheet on the bill, please visit this link.
  • For a complete copy of the bill language, please visit this link.

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Latest News

Informational Videos:

Assemblymember Holden Presents AB 280 on the Assembly Floor - May 31, 2023 

Disclaimer: This video was not produced by DRC and may not be accessible.

Assemblymember Holden Reintroduces the California Mandela Act, Protecting Human Rights of All Californians

Holden is reintroducing a significant legislative measure called the California Mandela Act. The act is aimed at safeguarding the human rights of all Californians, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or sexual orientation. The video may discuss the provisions of the California Mandela Act and the importance of protecting human rights in the state of California.

Disclaimer: This video was not produced by DRC and may not be accessible.

The Impact of Solitary Confinement on Disability Rights: Personal Stories and Advocacy Efforts

Speakers illustrate why the practice of solitary confinement is a disability justice issue and share stories of those who experienced or lost their lives after being kept in solitary confinement for prolonged periods of time.

Please Note:
This video may contain triggering and/or sensitive material. Sexual violence, sexual assault, and abuse are some topics mentioned within this video. 


  • Pamila Lew, Senior Counsel, Investigations Unit, Disability Rights California
  • Richard Diaz, Senior Attorney, Investigations Unit, Disability Rights California
  • Eric Harris, Director of Public Policy, Disability Rights California
  • Vanessa Ramos, Community Organizer, Legislation & Communications Unit
  • Lisa Knox, Legal Director, California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice

Tho Vinh Banh and Vanessa Ramos Testify in Support of AB 2632 - Senate Public Safety Hearing

AB 280 Co-sponsors:

Image of several sponsored logos: Disability Rights California, Prison Law Office, Initiate Justice, Nextgen Policy, Immigrant Defense Advocates, California Collaboration for Immigrant Justice, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, Haitian Bridge Alliance, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights, Underground Scholars Initiative UC Berkeley, Unlock the Box, California Families Against Solitary Confinement

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