As reported in NJ.Com, a bill strictly limiting the use of solitary confinement in New Jersey’s prisons is headed to Governor Chris Christie’s desk after being passed by the State Assembly.  The bill requires prisons and jails to use solitary confinement only as a last resort, restricting its use to 15 consecutive days or 20 days in a two-month period.  The bill was passed by the New Jersey Legislature by a vote of 45 to 26 with one abstention.

The measure is part of a national movement to limit or ban solitary confinement, which prison reform advocates and some mental health experts say can do permanent psychological damage if an inmate is kept in isolation too long.  However, it is painfully clear that the advocates of this bill have little interest in taking into consideration the orderly operation of correctional institutions that will ensure the safety of custody staff, civilian staff, and, ultimately, the inmates themselves.  The debate over the merits of disciplinary detention, which has been more broadly referred to by social scientists as “solitary confinement,” has been repeatedly discussed since modern civilizations have been incarcerating non-law abiding citizens.  With this being said, empirical evidence that has been collected by social scientists over the last one hundred (100) years has failed to yield conclusive results that disciplinary detention has a long lasting deleterious effect on inmate mental and/or physical health.

Instead of bowing to the demands of the various inmate advocacy groups that lack empirical credibility, the New Jersey Legislature, and hopefully the Governor, should instead be reviewing the effectiveness of disciplinary detention as a penal management tool. Common sense dictates and corrections’ researchers and practitioners confirm that prison order and safety amongst inmates and staff is imperative in the successful operation of a prison.  Many penologists have opined that the best way to manage difficult prisoners that refuse to conform to institutional rules and regulations should be to separate and segregate them from the general prison population.  Many professionals further believe that the utilization of solitary confinement is the optimal tool to ensure staff and inmate safety as it separates those inmates that are known to be violent, assaultive, escape risks, or otherwise disruptive to the general population. Safety of custody staff, civilian staff, and the inmates themselves should be paramount in the operation of the penal institutions within the state of New Jersey. It is for these reasons that the Legislature and the Governor need to truly examine the social impact that the proposed legislation will have on its employees, its inmates as a collective group, and society in general.

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Photo of Frank M. Crivelli Frank M. Crivelli

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state…

Frank M. Crivelli’s practice revolves around the representation of over eighty-five (85) labor unions in various capacities, the majority of which bargain for law enforcement entities. He is proud to be called on a daily basis to provide counsel to over 12,000 state, county and local law enforcement officers, firefighters and EMS workers.

Mr. Crivelli specializes his individual practice in collective negotiations.  Over the past twenty (20) years, Mr. Crivelli has negotiated well over one hundred (100) collective bargaining agreements for various state, county, municipal and private organizations and has resolved over thirty-five (35) labor agreements that have reached impasse through compulsory interest arbitration.  Mr. Crivelli routinely litigates matters in front of the New Jersey State Public Employment Relations Commission, the New Jersey Office of Administrative Law, third party neutrals for mediation, grievance and interest arbitration, the Superior Court of New Jersey and the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Mr. Crivelli founded and created the New Jersey Public Safety Officers Law Blog ( approximately fifteen (15) years ago where he and members of his firm routinely publish blog posts regarding legal issues related to the employment of New Jersey Public Safety Officers.  The blog now contains over six hundred (600) articles and is reviewed and relied upon by thousands of public employees.  Mr. Crivelli has also published books and manuals pertaining to New Jersey Public Employee Disability Pension Appeals and the New Jersey Worker’s Compensation System. Currently, he is drafting a publication on how to Prepare and Negotiate a Collective Bargaining Agreement.  He lectures annually at the New Jersey State PBA Collective Bargaining Seminar, the National Association of Police Organization’s Legal Seminar, the New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission Seminar on Public Employment Labor Law, the United States Marine Corps’ Commander’s Media Training Symposium and to Union Executive Boards and General Membership bodies on various labor related topics.

Prior to entering private practice, Mr. Crivelli joined the United States Marine Corps where he served as a Judge Advocate with the Legal Services Support Section of the First Force Services Support Group in Camp Pendleton, California.  While serving in the Marine Corps, Mr. Crivelli defended and prosecuted hundreds of Special and General Court Martial cases and administrative separation matters.  In addition to his trial duties, Mr. Crivelli was also charged with the responsibility of training various Marine and Naval combat command elements on the interpretation and implementation of the rules of engagement for various military conflicts that were ongoing throughout the world at that time. After leaving active duty, Mr. Crivelli remained in the Marine Corps Reserves where he was promoted to the rank of Major before leaving the service.

For the past fifteen (15) years, Mr. Crivelli has been certified as a Civil Trial Attorney by the Supreme Court for the State of New Jersey, a certification which less than two percent (2%) of the attorneys in New Jersey have achieved.  He is a graduate of Washington College (B.A.), the City University of New York School of Law (J.D.), the United States Naval Justice School, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.