Prisoners in North Carolina will be spending less time in solitary confinement.

A new disciplinary policy took effect Monday that says inmates who commit offenses generally can't be sent to solitary for longer than 30 days. An older policy allowed prison officials to hold inmates in solitary for twice that long. Also, there are reports that some North Carolina inmates have been segregated for more than 10 years.

According to The Charlotte Observer, about 2,300 North Carolina prisoners were being held in solitary as of March. That means they spent nearly 23 hours alone each day in small cells.

The change in policy is a response to a global outcry against the practice, which critics say can cause and worsen mental illness.

Prison officials say that since 2015, the number of North Carolina inmates in solitary has dropped by more than 33 percent.

State leaders say they hope the new policy will help make prisons safer.

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