When Gov. Ned Lamont vetoed the Protect Act in 2021, I was disheartened by his choice to defend the institution of prison over the people in prison. But 2022 brought another opportunity for the measure. The bill was signed into law on May 10 with bipartisan support in both chambers. What exactly does this bill ask for? It\u2019s designed to ensure that correctional facilities are limited in the use of restraints and isolated confinement. It also includes accountability and transparency on how these measures are used. Contrary to the claims of the opposition, it does not ban the use of restraints or isolation, but rather, it allows their use to be monitored and saved for extreme cases of disruption. It\u2019s time for other states to follow Connecticut in protecting the people that inhabit and work in prisons. Prison is already an uncomfortable place. We have a lot of recidivism (reoffenders) in this country, because those who commit crimes are treated without compassion. Normally, prisoners in solitary confinement are provided about four hours per day outside of the prison cell. The Protect Act increases this time to six and a half hours. Long-term isolation has been shown to trigger and worsen psychological stress, especially in those individuals with previous traumatic experiences or current mental illness. The negative health effects of isolation can result in anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and increased suicidal ideation. A study examining prisons in Washington state and California found that around 20 percent of Washington prisoners experienced severe mental distress after being in solitary confinement and over 19 percent had evidence of prior self-harm. In the state of California, over 50 percent of prisoners reported at least one symptom of psychological distress. I believe it\u2019s important to address in-cell shackling and the situations in which they are used. The Protect Act ensures that restraints are limited to transportation between facilities and units, emergent physical harm threats, and medical emergency use. Often, these measures are used for the mentally ill. Under these restraints, they are denied access to social visits, their belongings, and personal or legal phone calls. This practice also serves to limit their basic medical care needs, which leads to prisoners soiling themselves and suffering lacerations caused by the restraints. Instead of curbing misconduct, isolation often leads to further behavioral disturbances. This puts the life of correctional officers and the other prisoners at risk. The damage from isolation can become chronic, even after prisoners are released. Reducing solitary confinement will not lead to additional safety risks since the bill still allows for confinement in cases of facility-level lockdowns (such as riots) and emergencies arising from prisoners threatening other prisoners or officers. Creating better conditions in prisons also benefits correctional officers. Evidence shows that the experiences in prison can result in PTSD in these officers. By ensuring the mental and physical health of prisoners and officers, we can make sure that low level offenders and those who have repaid their debt to society can return to be productive members of our community. One of the issues Connecticut had was that the state Department of Correction failed to provide data on the exact number of prisoners in solitary confinement by submitting such requests to the Freedom of Information Act, which takes months to process. Also, this only tracked restrictive status instead of time-in-cell (how much time is the prisoner spending in solitary, in their cell) which is a better indicator. The Protect Act created an independent office of corrections ombuds to respond to prisoner concerns, while investigating any complaints of staff abuse. Better oversight will give us accurate and timely data that reflects the conditions of confinement, result in systematic overhauling of correctional policing with improved accountability and prohibit isolation for more than 72 consecutive hours or 72 hours in a 2-week period. For those budget-conscious folks, S.B. 459 is expected to save Connecticut around $17 million. By treating all prisoners like living, breathing human beings, we can lower the rate of repeat offenders and help our communities thrive. I implore all American voters to reach out to your state representatives and ask them to bring a federal version of the Protect Act bill to Congress. K.M. Iglesias, of Naugatuck, is a graduate student in the Master of Public Health Program at UConn.