Governor Newsom Vetoes the California Mandela Act

Advocates Will Continue to Push for Legislation to Limit the Damaging, Costly Practice of Prolonged Solitary Confinement in Jails, Prisons, and Immigration Detention  
Press Release

Governor Newsom Vetoes the California Mandela Act

The outside of a solitary confinement cell showing the large latch used to keep it shut.
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(Sacramento, CA) – Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed the California Mandela Act, AB 2632 (Holden), disappointing advocates who fought for California to join a growing number of states and the international community to limit the torturous, inhumane, and costly practice of solitary confinement in jails, prisons, and private immigration detention facilities.  

The Mandela Act would have provided a clear definition to capture the range of isolating practices that result in solitary confinement without comprising the safety of incarcerated individuals or staff. It would have limited its use to no more than 15 days and would have excluded the disabled, pregnant, young, and old from involuntary segregation. The Act encouraged education and rehabilitative programming in lieu of segregation and required oversight entities to monitor its use on an annual basis. 

Disability Rights California supported this legislation after decades of litigation, investigations, and regulatory reform efforts failed to curb its widespread use. “Although we prioritized limiting solitary confinement for many years, we concluded that California required a comprehensive legislative solution to create safeguards and limits,” said Eric Harris, public policy director at Disability Rights California. “We fought hard for the broadest definition of disability in the bill. We've seen firsthand how so many of our disabled community members–disproportionately Black and Brown–bear the brunt of solitary. They leave solitary confinement harmed by the damage to their mental and physical health and sometimes don’t get out alive at all.” 

“I’ve come a long way since I was a young mother put in solitary confinement instead of receiving the mental health services I so desperately needed. The Mandela Act would have prevented this from happening because it excludes pregnant people, disabled people, the young and the old, from damaging isolation. It’s been empowering for me to work on this bill with other advocates and survivors and I will continue to push to see this Act become law,” said Vanessa Ramos, community organizer with Disability Rights California. 

Moving forward, Disability Rights California will continue to work with impacted communities, and the many organizations that supported this legislation, including co-sponsors California Collaborative for Immigrant Justice, Immigrant Defense Advocates, Initiate Justice, NextGen Policy, and the Prison Law Office to ensure that the Mandela Act gets signed into law during the next session. 

Media Contacts

Melody Pomraning
Communications Director
Disability Rights California
(916) 504-5938
Melody.Pomraning@disabilityrightsca.org

 

Disability Rights California (DRC) – Is the agency designated under federal law to protect and advocate for the rights of Californians with disabilities. The mission of DRC is to defend, advance, and strengthen the rights and opportunities of people with disabilities. For more information visit: https://www.disabilityrightsca.org.