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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Big Changes Coming For Some Prisoners

In this Aug. 31, 2015 photo, Josue Torres-Rubio, of Wapato, Wash., who is serving time on charges for robbery, residential burglary and possession of a stolen car, poses for a photo inside his solitary confinement cell at the Washington Corrections Center, in Shelton, Wash. For dozens of maximum custody prisoners at the facility, 23 hours each day is spent alone in a small cell with one hour to walk or run, also alone, in a recreation room with high concrete walls and a metal-grated roof. In the coming weeks, some prisoners in solitary confinement will have the option of using their hour outside of their cells to watch sunsets, mountains and underwater seascapes on video, with the hope that inmates will be calmer, and guards will have to deal with fewer outbursts or violent interactions. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

In this Aug. 31, 2015 photo, Josue Torres-Rubio, of Wapato, Wash., who is serving time on charges for robbery, residential burglary and possession of a stolen car, poses for a photo inside his solitary confinement cell at the Washington Corrections Center, in Shelton, Wash. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

By executive action, President Obama is banning the use of solitary confinement for juveniles held in federal prison, and also for low-level offenders.

Writing in today’s Washington Post, Obama cites the case of Kalief Browder in New York City, who was 16 when he was accused of stealing a backpack. Browder spent more than 400 days in solitary confinement during the three years he was held at Rikers Island without a trial. He killed himself after he was released.

Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of allowing parole or reduced sentences for inmates in state prisons who were children when they committed murder decades ago, a ruling that Antonin Scalia called “astonishing.”

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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