Solitary Confinement: Misconceptions and Alternatives, Vera Institute, 2015
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Solitary Confinement: Common Misconceptions and Emerging Safe Alternatives MAY 2015 Alison Shames • Jessa Wilcox • Ram Subramanian CENTER ON SENTENCING AND CORRECTIONS THE Robert W. Wilson CHARITABLE TRUST SERIES FROM THE CENTER DIRECTOR The overuse and misuse of solitary confinement by our prisons and jails is yet another indication of the overly punitive approach that has characterized our nation’s sentencing and corrections practices. Not only do we incarcerate too many people and for far too long, we also have a corrections system that employs, all too frequently and—at times, too casually—the most extreme form of confinement as a routine management strategy; this persists despite decades of evidence pointing to the manifold negative impacts of subjecting people to such conditions. Any serious effort to reduce over-incarceration and its harmful consequences must rest on a commitment to human dignity and focus on the treatment of those in jail and prison. Although this practice goes by many names—isolation, restricted housing, administrative segregation, protective custody, special housing, disciplinary segregation, etc.—the old adage about ducks applies: if it looks like a duck… As this report makes clear, whatever the label, the experience for the person placed in solitary confinement is the same: confinement to an isolated cell for the overwhelming portion of each day, often 23 hours a day, with limited human interaction and minimal, if any, constructive activity; an experience that all too often leads to harmful outcomes for the person’s mental and physical health and the well-being of the community to which he or she returns. As U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy recently opined, “This idea of total incarceration just isn’t working, and it’s not humane.” It’s also a significant drain on the budgets of corrections departments. Solitary confinement need not be corrections’ sole first response to incidents of misconduct, nor should it be casually and routinely used to solve custody management challenges that arise in making housing decisions. In the past decade, several jurisdictions, some of which have worked with Vera, have reduced their use of solitary confinement and implemented safe alternatives. This report shines a bright light on the use/abuse of solitary confinement and pushes us to recognize the critical connection between what happens to people inside penal institutions and the success of their return to community. It is my sincere hope that it fosters both debate and change, which balance respect for human dignity and safety and security concerns, as these are not—nor need not be viewed as—mutually exclusive. Humane and effective management of our nation’s prisons and jails requires nothing less. Fred Patrick Director, Center on Sentencing and Corrections 2 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES Contents 4 Introduction 8 MISCONCEPTION #1 Conditions in segregated housing are stark but not inhumane 12 MISCONCEPTION #2 Segregated housing is reserved only for the most violent 14 MISCONCEPTION #3 Segregated housing is used only as a last resort 15 MISCONCEPTION #4 Segregated housing is used only for brief periods of time 17 MISCONCEPTION #5 The harmful effects of segregated housing are overstated and not well understood 18 MISCONCEPTION #6 Segregated housing helps keep prisons and jails safer 20 MISCONCEPTION #7 Segregated housing deters misbehavior and violence 22 MISCONCEPTION #8 Segregated housing is the only way to protect the vulnerable 24 MISCONCEPTION #9 Safe alternatives to segregated housing are expensive 26 MISCONCEPTION #10 Incarcerated people are rarely released directly to the community from segregated housing 28 Conclusion VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 3 Introduction What is commonly known as solitary confinement is a practice still widely used by corrections officials in the United States today, largely as a means to fulfill a prison’s or jail’s top priority: the safety of its staff and the incarcerated people under its care. While it is most often deployed when incarcerated people break rules or engage in violent or disruptive behavior, it is also used as a preventative measure in an effort to protect those at high risk of sexual assault and physical abuse in a prison’s or jail’s general population (for example, incarcerated people who are transgender or former law enforcement officers). The term solitary confinement, however, is often not used by corrections officials, who prefer labels such as restricted housing, segregated housing, and special or intensive management. NAMING THE PRACTICE Corrections officials in the United States refer to solitary confinement by many names, and placement policies also vary by jurisdiction and facility type. The terms in most frequent use today include: >>Disciplinary or punitive segregation is used to punish incarcerated people for violating facility rules. As in the larger criminal justice process, charges are written, a hearing is held, evidence is presented, and, if found guilty, a term in segregated housing is imposed. >>Administrative segregation is used to remove incarcerated people from the general prison or jail population who are thought to pose a risk to facility safety or security. It may be used for those believed to be members of gangs or active in other restricted activities, even if no violation has been identified. Administrative segregation is not technically a sanction or a punishment, and can be indefinite. >>Protective custody is a form of administrative segregation that is used to remove incarcerated people from a facility’s general population who are thought be at risk of harm or abuse, such as incarcerated people who are mentally ill, intellectually disabled, gay, transgender, or former law enforcement officers. While some people who fear for their safety in the general population may request protective custody, this status is often conferred involuntarily. >>Temporary confinement in segregated housing is used when a reported incident is being investigated or related paperwork is being completed, or when no beds are available for transfers. Some incarcerated people are held in solitary confinement in prisons or jails, while others are held in disciplinary and administrative segregation in supermax facilities, which are freestanding prisons or distinct units in prisons where the entire incarcerated population is housed in solitary confinement.a All prisons and many jails in the United States use some form of solitary confinement. Whatever the label, the experience for the person is the same—confinement in an isolated cell (alone or 4 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES Whatever the label, the experience for the person is the same —confinement in an isolated cell (alone or with a cellmate) for an average of 23 hours a day with limited human interaction, little constructive activity, and in an environment that ensures maximum control over the individual. VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 5 with a cellmate) for an average of 23 hours a day with limited human interaction, little constructive activity, and in an environment that ensures maximum control over the individual.b When sources cited in this report refer to the practice as solitary confinement, the authors do as well. Otherwise, consistent with American Bar Association standards, “segregated housing” is used as the generic term for the practice.c David C. Fathi, “United States: Turning the Corner on Solitary Confinement,” Canadian Journal of Human Rights, 4, no. 1 (2015): 168. For the definition of a supermax, see National Institute of Corrections, Supermax Prisons: Overview and General Consideration (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, 1999), 2-3. b In 2013, the Arthur Liman Program at Yale Law School reviewed the policies related to administrative segregation for 46 states and the federal Bureau of Prisons. See Hope Metcalf et al., Administrative Segregation, Degrees of Isolation, and Incarceration: A National Overview of State and Federal Correction Policies: Public Law Working Paper (New Haven: Yale Law School, 2013), 2. The states not included in the review—Louisiana, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah—all have forms of segregated housing. For information on Utah, see ibid, p. 24, endnote 7. For information on Louisiana, see Editorial, “Four Decades of Solitary in Louisiana,” New York Times, November 21, 2014. For information on South Carolina, see Emily Bazelon, “The Shame of Solitary Confinement,” New York Times, February 19, 2015. For information on Texas, see American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Texas Civil Rights Project-Houston, A Solitary Failure: The Waste, Cost and Harm of Solitary Confinement in Texas (Houston: ACLU of TX, 2015). c The American Bar Association defines “segregated housing” as “housing of a prisoner in conditions characterized by substantial isolation from other prisoners, whether pursuant to disciplinary, administrative, or classification action.” See American Bar Association, ABA Standards for Criminal Justice Treatment of Prisoners (Washington, DC: ABA, 2010), § 23-1.0. a There are indications that the use of segregated housing has grown substantially in recent years (perhaps as much as by 42 percent between 1995 and 2005), yet the precise number of people held in segregated housing on any given day is not known with any certainty.1 Estimates range from 25,000 (which includes only those held in supermax facilities) to 80,000 (which includes those held in some form of segregated housing in all state and federal prisons).2 None of these estimates include people held in segregated housing in jails, military facilities, immigration detention centers, or juvenile justice facilities in the United States. Based on research conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) and others, the percentage of a state’s prison system’s daily population that is held in segregated housing ranges from five to eight percent, while more recent research found that, in November 2013, the Federal Bureau of Prisons— the largest prison system within the United States—held five percent of its prisoners in segregated housing units.3 Moreover, because these estimates are only one-day snapshots, they most likely underestimate the total number of people subjected to one or more periods in segregated housing over the course of their incarceration. Against this backdrop, evidence mounts that segregated housing produces many unwanted and harmful outcomes—for the mental and physical health of those placed in isolation, for the public safety of the communities to which most will return, and for the corrections budgets of jurisdictions that rely on the practice for facility safety. As these negative impacts have come to light, concern about its overuse has grown. The severe conditions to which people in segregated housing are subjected are now regularly exposed by mainstream journalists.4 Incarcerated people who participate in hunger strikes against its use, such as those at Pelican Bay state prison in California in 2013, receive sympathetic national attention.5 And in response to the shift in public opinion, local, 6 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES RESEARCH AND DATA LIMITATIONS A full appreciation of the prevalence and impact of segregated housing in the United States is not yet within our grasp because up-to-date and reliable national data on the number of people held in segregated housing do not exist. While many individual jurisdictions can report accurately the number of incarcerated people they hold in segregated housing, comparing and aggregating this information across jurisdictions is highly problematic as the nomenclature used to describe segregated housing varies widely from state to state and there are no national standards for reconciling these differences.a For example, the terms “administrative segregation,” “supermax,” and “administrative separation” are used interchangeably, and housing conditions defined as supermax in some states are classified differently in others. For example, in one state, such conditions are formally termed “high-security control.”b In addition, differences in the criteria for admission to, and release from, segregated housing further confound efforts to compare the use of segregated housing between jurisdictions. Not only do these vary from state to state, they can change significantly even within jurisdictions from year to year.c The most recent and comprehensive prison census data, published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in 2008, concern people incarcerated in 1,821 state and federal facilities in 2005.d However, the number of people reported to be in segregated housing is questionable because the census form used to collect the data did not supply definitions for many of the key terms used by jurisdictions to classify those held in segregated housing. More than 100 facilities indicated that they either did not have people in segregated housing or simply did not answer the question. Moreover, many states failed to match the total number of people in segregated housing with the sum of the segregated sub-types provided (e.g., punitive segregation, death row, protective custody). Researchers encountered similar challenges in a review of supermax custody.e For example, they discovered that some jurisdictions changed the way in which they counted supermax prisoners over time with some states inconsistently including or excluding people in administrative segregation and protective custody in their count of supermax prisoners. And even more confusingly, some states reported having supermax prisoners but no supermax housing, and vice versa. Given these challenges and the prevalence of outdated data systems among corrections departments, it should come as no surprise that nearly 12 percent of the total number of people held in segregated housing reported in the 2005 census is an estimate. Until jurisdictions are compelled to create robust reporting systems, with nationally accepted definitions and measures, accurate data on segregated housing practices in the United States will remain elusive. For example, such a count was recently done of the federal prison system by the U.S. Government Accountability Office. That count found that from 2008 through 2013, the number of people in restricted housing units in federal prisons grew by 17 percent (almost triple the six percent rise in the total prison population for that same period). See U.S. Government Accountability Office, Bureau of Prisons: Improvements Needed in Bureau of Prisons’ Monitoring and Evaluation of the Impact of Segregated Housing (Washington, DC: GAO, 2013). b H. Daniel Butler, O. Hayden Griffin III, and W. Wesley Johnson, “What Makes You the ‘Worst of the Worst?’ An Examination of State Policies Defining Supermax Confinement,” Criminal Justice Policy Review 24, no. 6 (2012): 676-694; and Alexandra Naday, Joshua D. Freilich, and Jeff Mellow, “The Elusive Data on Supermax Confinement,” The Prison Journal 88, no. 1 (2008): 69-93. c Jesenia M. Pizarro and Raymund E. Narag, “Supermax Prisons: What We Know, What We Do Not Know, and Where We Are Going,” The Prison Journal 88, no. 1 (2008): 23-42; Butler and Griffin, 2013, pp. 676-694. d United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities, 2005 (Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010). e Alexandra Naday, Joshua D. Freilich, and Jeff Mellow, 2008, pp. 69-93. a VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 7 state, and federal policymakers are turning their attention to the overuse of segregated housing by the nation’s prisons and jails. A subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a series of hearings in 2012 and 2014 focused on reassessing the use of solitary confinement.6 In 2014, 10 states announced or implemented policy changes to reduce the number of adults or juveniles held in segregated housing, improve the conditions in segregation units, or facilitate the return of segregated people to a prison’s general population.7 Some, like Colorado, passed legislation that removed entire classes of people—for example, those with serious mental illnesses—from being housed in long-term segregation.8 And, most recently, New York City’s Department of Correction made the historic decision to ban the use of segregated housing for all those in its custody 21 years old and younger.9 Despite increased attention to the issue, many people—policymakers, corrections officials, and members of the public—still hold misconceptions about and misguided justifications for the use of segregated housing. This report aims to dispel the most common of these misconceptions and highlight some of the promising alternatives that are resulting in fewer people in segregated housing. MISCONCEPTION #1 Conditions in segregated housing are stark but not inhumane “…[I]t’s anything but quiet. You’re immersed in a drone of garbled noise—other inmates’ blaring TVs, distant conversations, shouted arguments. I couldn’t make sense of any of it, and was left feeling twitchy and paranoid. I kept waiting for the lights to turn off, to signal the end of the day. But the lights did not shut off. I began to count the small holes carved in the walls. Tiny grooves made by inmates who’d chipped away at the cell as the cell chipped away at them.”10 This is solitary confinement, described not by an incarcerated person or an advocate but by Rick Raemisch, director of the Colorado Department of Corrections. Charged by the governor with reforming the use of segregated housing by the state’s prison system, Director Raemisch decided he needed to experience it firsthand. When an incarcerated person is placed in segregated housing, he or she is confined to a cell (either alone or with a cellmate) for 22 to 24 hours a day. 11 The cell is typically six by eight feet, smaller than a standard parking space. It is furnished with a metal toilet, sink, and bed platform. Reading materials are either strictly limited or prohibited altogether. Natural sunlight in the cell is limited to a very small window or does not exist at all, and fluorescent bulbs light the cell, often throughout the night.12 Recreation is limited to one hour a day, five days per week, which is taken alone in a cage outdoors or an indoor area (sometimes with a barred top).13 Every time the incarcerated person is taken out of solitary 8 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES ...[I]t’s anything but quiet. You’re immersed in a drone of garbled noise— other inmates’ blaring TVs, distant conversations, shouted arguments. I couldn’t make sense of any of it, and was left feeling twitchy and paranoid. I kept waiting for the lights to turn off, to signal the end of the day. But the lights did not shut off. I began to count the small holes carved in the walls. Tiny grooves made by inmates who’d chipped away at the cell as the cell chipped away at them. VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 9 confinement and returned to it, he or she is strip-searched.14 Interactions with people (other than a cellmate, if double celled) are brief and infrequent. Officers deliver meal trays through a slot in the door; there are only occasional meetings with healthcare practitioners, counselors, or attorneys; and visitation with family may be restricted or prohibited. Any meetings or visits, when they do occur, are almost always conducted through the cell door or conducted by video, speaker, or telephone through a thick glass window.15 When an in-person visitation is permitted, the incarcerated person is placed in restraints and separated from the visitor by a partition. Although this is how most incarcerated people experience segregated housing, it need not be this restrictive. Some jurisdictions are experimenting with making conditions more humane and less solitary. For example, Colorado now requires that incarcerated people held in its Management Control Unit receive four hours of time outside their cell each day.16 New York State, as part of a legal settlement, gives 16- and 17-year-olds in segregated housing at least five hours of exercise and programming outside of their cells five days per week.17 Maine requires that incarcerated people in segregated housing receive group recreation, counseling sessions, and opportunities to increase privileges through good behavior, as well as greater access to radios, televisions, and reading materials.18 Some jurisdictions have developed different levels of segregated housing, including “step-down” incentive programs that are structured in progressive phases that provide increasing privileges—such as more time out of the cell, IS SOLITARY CONFINEMENT TORTURE? The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects individuals from “cruel and unusual punishment.”a Although the United States Supreme Court has affirmed that solitary confinement is a form of punishment subject to scrutiny under Eighth Amendment standards, most federal courts have been unreceptive to limiting its use.b This may be, in part, because in order to demonstrate an Eighth Amendment violation, an incarcerated person must satisfy a particularly onerous two-part test: first, his or her alleged suffering must be reasonably serious; and second, prison officials must have acted with “deliberate indifference to the prisoner’s health and safety”— where “deliberate indifference” is only proved if it is shown that prison officials “kn[e]w that inmates face[d] a substantial risk of serious harm,” but “fail[ed] to take reasonable measures to abate it.”c As a result, successful Eighth Amendment claims regarding prison conditions have usually involved the direct action or inaction of prison officials, including medical indifference, failure to protect, and excessive use of force, rather than an overall challenge to general penal practices, such as solitary confinement.d Indeed, only a few federal courts have held that certain segregation practices—those narrowly limited to the isolation of incarcerated people with serious pre-existing mental illness or those prone to suffer severe mental injury—violate the Eighth Amendment.f The reluctance by federal courts to outlaw solitary confinement is in direct contrast to international human rights standards. For example, the United Nations General Assembly, through the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, adopted in 1990, encourages governments to undertake efforts to abolish or restrict the use of solitary confinement as a punishment. The European Prison 10 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES Rules limit the use of solitary confinement to only exceptional cases and for short periods of time. And the Committee Against Torture, the official body established pursuant to the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture, consistently recommends that the practice be abolished altogether.g On an international level, specific reasons are given for why solitary confinement is considered inhumane and degrading. For example, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)—the monitoring body formed out of the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture—has criticized the physical and psychological effects of lengthy solitary confinement on incarcerated people—including increased suicidal thoughts, “fatigue, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, headaches, crying fits and bouts of depression becoming more acute in solitary confinement…[as well as] distress upon not being allowed contacts with families and friends….”h The CPT has also critiqued procedural weaknesses—such as the lack of laws and regulations governing the use of solitary confinement—and noted the risk of permanent damage to incarcerated people due to the absence of appropriate mental and physical stimulation in prolonged isolation.i The European Court of Human Rights too has emphasized that the long-term dangers inherent in social and sensory isolation can make solitary confinement inhuman or degrading and, in certain circumstances, could amount to torture.j The Inter-American Court of Human Rights is even more categorical, stating that “prolonged isolation and coercive solitary confinement are, in themselves, cruel and inhuman treatments, damaging to the person’s psychic and moral integrity, and.[…]the dignity inherent to the human person.”k The Eighth Amendment states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” U.S. Constitution, Amendment VIII. b Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678, 685 (1978); and Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976). c Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825, 847 (1994). d Christine Rebman, “The Eighth Amendment and Solitary Confinement: The Gap in Protection from Psychological Consequences,” DePaul Law Review, 49, no. 2 (1999): 595. e Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678, 685 (1978). f See Jones ‘El v. Berge, 164 F. Supp. 2d 1096 (W.D. Wis. 2001); Ruiz v. Johnson, 37 F. Supp. 2d 855 (S.D. Texas 1999), reversed on other grounds, 243 F.3d 941 (5th Circuit 2001), adhered to on remand, 154 F. Supp. 2d 975 (S.D. Texas 2001); Madrid v. Gomez, 889 F. Supp. 1146 (N.D. Cal. 1995). Notably, in 2013, the Department of Justice notified a governor for the first time ever—the Governor of Pennsylvania—that the manner in which a state uses isolation with prisoners with serious mental illness violates the Eighth Amendment, see Letter from Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General, United States Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, to Tom Corbett, Governor of Pennsylvania (May 31, 2013). g Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners, General Assembly Resolution 45/111, U.N. Doc. A/45/49 (1990), Principle 7; Council of Europe Committee of Ministers, Recommendation No. Rec (2006)(2) (January 11, 2006); Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, General Assembly Resolution 46, at 197, U.N. GAOR, 39th Sess., Supp; U.N. Comm. Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 19 of the Convention: Denmark, ¶ 14, U.N. Doc. CAT/C/DNK/CO/5 (July 16, 2007); U.N. Comm. Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 19 of the Convention: Luxembourg, ¶ 6, CAT/C/CR/28/2 (June 12, 2002); U.N. Comm. Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 19 of the Convention: Norway, ¶ 156, U.N. Doc. CAT/A/53/44 (May 6, 1998); and U.N. Comm. Against Torture, Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 19 of the Convention: Sweden, ¶ 225, U.N. Doc. CAT/A/52/44 (May 6, 1997). h See European Commission for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, 2nd General Report on the CPT’s Activities Covering the Period 1 January to 31 December 1991, CPT/Inf (92) 3 [EN] (April 13, 1992), ¶ 56; see also European Commission for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT), The CPT Standards: “Substantive” Sections of the CPT’s General Reports, CPT/Inf/E (2002) 1; Ramirez Sanchez v. France, App. No. 59450/00, 45 Eur. H.R. Rep. 49, ¶ 83 (2007); and CPT Norway Report, CPT/Inf (97) 11 [EN] (September 5, 1997). i See for example, CPT 21st General Report, CPT/Inf (2011) 28 (November 10, 2011). j See for example, Ensslin, Baader, and Raspe v. Federal Republic of Germany, App. No. 7572/76, 14 D.R. 91 (1978); Krocher & Miller v. Switzerland, App. No. 8463/78, 26 Eur. Comm’n H.R. Dec. & Rep 52 (1982); Ocalan v. Turkey, 41 Eur. Ct. H.R. 45 (2005); Ilascu v. Moldova, 40 Eur. Ct. H.R. 46 (2004). See also Iorgov v. Bulgaria, 40 Eur. Ct. H.R. Rep., 7, 22 (2005) (people in isolation with little social contact must be provided with appropriate mental and physical stimulation to prevent their long term deterioration). k Case of the Miguel Castro-Castro Prison v. Peru, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 160, ¶ 323 (Nov. 25, 2006); see also Velasquez Rodriguez Case, Inter-Am. Ct. H.R. (ser. C) No. 4, 9 ¶ 156 (1988) (finding that “prolonged isolation and deprivation of communication are in themselves cruel and inhuman treatment”). a VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 11 the opportunity to participate in group activities, television in the cell, and additional reading materials—for sustained compliance to facility rules. Pennsylvania, Washington, and New Mexico have all created step-down programs for gang members held in segregated housing.19 Washington has an Intensive Transition Program for incarcerated people with chronic behavior problems who are frequently placed in segregated housing, in which they move through a curriculum in stages, progressively learning self-control and gradually engaging in opportunities to socialize until they are ready to return to the prison’s general population.20 Michigan operates an Incentives in Segregation pilot project, in which incarcerated people work through six stages (each stage requiring different tasks and bestowing additional privileges) over several months.21 The Virginia Department of Corrections has developed a successful step-down program for incarcerated people in administrative segregation that uses evidence-based practices first developed in the community corrections setting. Since 2011, the program has reduced the number of incarcerated people in administrative segregation by 53 percent and the number of prison incidents by 56 percent.22 MISCONCEPTION #2 Segregated housing is reserved only for the most violent It is still widely believed that the incarcerated people who end up in segregated housing are the worst of the worst, the most feared, the incorrigibly dangerous. However, several studies have revealed that a significant proportion of the segregated population is placed there for being neither violent nor dangerous. Many are there not as punishment for actually engaging in violence; rather they are there because they have been categorized as potentially dangerous or violent—often because prison officials have identified them as gang members.23 This type of segregation, based on identification rather than individual activity, is referred to as administrative segregation.24 Segregated housing is not only used to anticipate or react to dangerous or disruptive behavior, it is also used for incarcerated people in protective custody who prison officials believe will be unsafe in the general population. They may be at risk for reasons of mental illness (or other special needs, such as developmental disability), age (such as young people under the age of 18 tried, convicted, and sentenced as adults), former gang or law enforcement affiliation, sexual vulnerability or gender nonconformity, or other reasons, including temporary confinement of someone who has been victimized in general population pending an investigation of the incident.25 Individuals may even request to be removed from the general population. Although these incarcerated people are separated for their own safety, they are subject to the same restrictive conditions as others in segregation. The most commonly understood justification for segregation is as punishment for a violation of a prison rule. While this practice, known as disciplinary 12 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES ...disruptive behavior— such as talking back, being out of place, failure to obey an order, failing to report to work or school, or refusing to change housing units or cells— frequently lands incarcerated people in disciplinary segregation. VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 13 segregation, is used as a response to behavior that is violent or dangerous, Vera’s experience in the field has shown that disruptive behavior—such as talking back, being out of place, failure to obey an order, failing to report to work or school, or refusing to change housing units or cells— frequently lands incarcerated people in disciplinary segregation.26 In some jurisdictions, these “nuisance prisoners” constitute the majority of the people in disciplinary segregation.27 Before collaborating with Vera, Illinois found that more than 85 percent of the people released from disciplinary segregation during a one-year period had been sent there for relatively minor infractions, such as not standing for a count and using abusive language.28 In Pennsylvania, the most common violation associated with a sentence to segregated housing was “failure to obey an order,” with 85 percent of those written up for this type of violation sent there.29 In 2013, an incarcerated person in South Carolina received a penalty of more than 37 years in solitary confinement for posting on Facebook on 38 different days.30 Piper Kerman, who was incarcerated in a federal prison and is the author of the memoir Orange is the New Black, reported to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee in 2014 that she saw many women sent to solitary confinement for at least 30 days for minor infractions such as moving around a housing unit during a count, refusing an order from a corrections officer, and possession of low-level contraband such as small amounts of cash or underwear other than that issued by the prison.31 MISCONCEPTION #3 Segregated housing is used only as a last resort Although many jurisdictions have a list of alternative sanctions that can be used to discipline incarcerated people who are unruly or difficult to manage, the reality is that far too many turn to segregated housing as the first response to bad behavior. This is in stark contrast to the system used in certain European countries, where corrections officers are trained to impose disciplinary measures that are relative and proportionate to the disruptive behavior. Dutch and German prison officials use sanctions such as reprimands, restrictions on money and property, and restrictions on movement or leisure activities. Care is taken to relate the sanction to the alleged infraction.32 In these countries, solitary confinement is used rarely and only for very brief periods of time. For example, an adult male prison in Germany reported using segregation just two or three times in 2012, and another German prison for young adults had utilized its segregation cell twice between 2008 and 2012, and only for a few hours each time.33 One of the most basic measures that a prison can take to ensure that disciplinary segregation is reserved for those who truly pose a risk to the safety of staff and other incarcerated people is to prohibit its use as a punishment for less serious violations. For instance, Pennsylvania no longer sends anyone to 14 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES segregated housing as a sanction for the least serious violations, such as taking unauthorized food from the dining hall and unexcused absences from work, school, or mandatory programs.34 The Illinois Department of Corrections also prohibits the use of segregated housing as a response to certain disciplinary violations.35 And corrections officials in Maine use a range of less severe restrictions, such as limiting work opportunities, in response to minor infractions.36 Some states use structured sanction grids to provide corrections officers with guidance on the appropriate and proportionate punishment for particular behaviors. The sanction grids articulate when less restrictive sanctions (such as mediation or anger management classes, withholding access to the commissary, removing TV privileges, restricting visitation rights, making the prisoner responsible for the costs of damaged property, and assigning the prisoner to an undesirable work shift) may be used, and when more serious sanctions, such as revocation of good time credit and segregation, are appropriate.37 MISCONCEPTION #4 The sanctions grid in use by the Washington Department of Corrections can be downloaded at www.vera.org/ solitary-confinementmisconceptions-safealternatives. Segregated housing is used only for brief periods of time As a matter of policy within the federal prison system and in at least 19 states, corrections officials are permitted to hold people in segregated housing indefinitely.38 While placement in administrative segregation can, with some level of periodic review, be open-ended, a term in disciplinary segregation is almost always a defined period of time.39 Notably, if a term in disciplinary segregation is thought to be too brief, corrections officials can easily “move” incarcerated people from “short-term” disciplinary segregation to long-term administrative segregation by the simple process of reclassification.40 After Colorado Department of Corrections Director Rick Raemisch spent 20 hours in a cell in segregated housing, he reported that it was “practically a blink” in comparison to the experience of incarcerated people in Colorado who, at the time, spent an average of 23 months in segregation, with many spending multiple years.41 In 2009, the average length of stay at the Illinois supermax facility, since closed, was more than 6 years; in 2011, the average length of stay in Washington’s intensive management unit was 11 months; and in Texas, the average amount of time in administrative segregation is almost four years.42 Vera begins its work with a jurisdiction by conducting a comprehensive analysis of administrative data in order to understand how the jurisdiction is actually using segregated housing. Vera’s inquiry encompasses areas that, due to the data limitations addressed above (see “Research and Data Limitations” on page 7), are not typically examined by corrections systems. The findings from these analyses often surprise corrections officials, who overwhelmingly agree that no one should stay in segregation any longer than necessary to achieve the original safety and disciplinary goals underlying the placement. However, Vera’s review of the data regularly shows that incarcerated people who are VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 15 Average lengths of stay prior to reforms WASHINGTON 2011: more than 11 months ILLINOIS COLORADO 23 months 2014: ...with many spending multiple years. 2009: more than 6 years TEXAS 2013: almost 4 years 16 not violent or overly disruptive stay in segregated housing for long periods of time, ranging from months to years and even decades. These findings have led some jurisdictions to implement reforms designed to reduce the likelihood of a person staying in segregated housing for periods of time incongruent with the behavior leading to the placement. For example, the Washington Department of Corrections reduced the amount of time an incarcerated person can be held in administrative segregation from 60 to 47 days, absent direct approval from the Deputy Director.43 To ensure that no one remains in segregated housing for indefinite or very long periods of time, some states mandate frequent reviews and assessments.44 Those who are reclassified or are no longer deemed dangerous can be transferred to less restrictive housing units. In Colorado and Pennsylvania, for example, multi-disciplinary committees review segregated housing placements, making it more likely that they are appropriate and objective.45 In Pennsylvania, those sentenced to disciplinary segregation may be released upon completion of one-half of the imposed sanction and a review of the Program Review Committee.46 In California, after changing its segregated housing placement criteria, the state conducted case-by-case reviews of all people held in segregation that resulted in many being transferred to less restricted housing.47 Another method of reducing the amount of time someone spends in segregated housing is to implement a system of incentives that allows an incarcerated person to earn his or her way out earlier than the imposed term. This strategy is informed by research that has demonstrated that positive reinforcement of pro-social behavior increases the chances of that behavior being repeated in the future.48 To this end, several states have devised programs designed to target behavior issues.49 Some states provide programming for certain incarcerated people, such as gang members with histories of violence, who would otherwise face long-term administrative segregation. Washington instituted the Motivating Offender Change program, which focuses on gang-affiliated people in its maximum custody units. It provides opportunities to learn and practice cognitive-behavioral skills to help reduce violent behavior. Successful graduates SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES of the program are transferred to a lower custody environment within the general prison population.50 MISCONCEPTION #5 The harmful effects of segregated housing are overstated and not well understood Despite the long-established consensus among researchers that solitary confinement damages, often irreparably, those who experience it for even brief periods of time, its continued use in prisons and jails in the United States implies that many jurisdictions and correctional officials are unaware of or minimize the importance of this body of evidence. According to one report, “[n]early every scientific inquiry into the effects of solitary confinement over the past 150 years has concluded that subjecting an individual to more than 10 days of involuntary segregation results in a distinct set of emotional, cognitive, social, and physical pathologies.”51 The characteristics that define segregated housing—social isolation, reduced environmental stimulation, and loss of control over all aspects of daily life—create a “potent mix” that produces a litany of negative impacts, including: hypersensitivity to stimuli, distortions and hallucinations, increased anxiety and nervousness, diminished impulse control, severe and chronic depression, appetite loss and weight loss, heart palpitations, talking to oneself, problems sleeping, nightmares, self-mutilation, difficulties with thinking, concentration, and memory, and lower levels of brain function, including a decline in EEG activity after only seven days in segregation.52 Upon release from segregated housing, these psychological effects have the potential to undermine significantly an incarcerated person’s adjustment back in the prison’s general population or the community to which he or she returns.53 The harmful effects are compounded for people with mental illness, who make up one-third to one-half of all incarcerated people in segregated housing.54 The conditions of segregated housing can exacerbate a preexisting condition or prompt a reoccurrence. As one psychiatric expert explained, “Prisoners who are prone to depression and have had past depressive episodes will become very depressed in isolated confinement. People who are prone to suicide ideation and attempts will become more suicidal in that setting. People who are prone to disorders of mood…will become that and will have a breakdown in that direction. And people who are psychotic in any way…will have another breakdown.”55 Suicide rates and incidents of self-harm (such as banging one’s head against the cell wall) are much higher for people in segregation than those in the general prison population.56 For example, in California, where an estimated five VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 17 percent of the prisoners are placed in segregated housing, 69 percent of the suicides in 2006 occurred in those units.57 In Texas, incarcerated people in segregation are five times more likely to commit suicide than those in the general population.58 In New York, between 1993 and 2003, suicide rates were five times higher among incarcerated people in segregation than among those in the general prison population.59 Several states are revising their segregation policies in light of the harm it poses to vulnerable populations, especially those with mental illness. To settle a lawsuit that charged Pennsylvania with violating the constitutional rights of incarcerated people with serious mental illnesses by keeping them in solitary confinement without access to treatment, the state agreed in January 2015 to keep them out of non-therapeutic segregated housing and to improve their care.60 In Colorado, a law enacted in 2014 requires the removal from long-term segregated housing of all incarcerated people with serious mental illness.61 Washington created a Reintegration and Progression Program that targets incarcerated people with mental health issues, especially those who engage in chronic self-injurious behavior. The program addresses maladaptive thought and behavior patterns and teaches enhanced coping skills to gradually integrate them into a lower level of custody.62 MISCONCEPTION #6 Segregated housing helps keep prisons and jails safer The most widely accepted and cited reason for using segregated housing is to ensure safety, order, and control within a prison.63 Some prison officials believe that the mere existence of segregated housing controls the amount and seriousness of violence within their facilities (both among prisoners and between officers and prisoners).64 However, there is little evidence to support the claim that segregated housing increases facility safety or that its absence would increase in-prison violence.65 One study found no relationship between the opening of supermax prisons and the aggregate levels of prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in three prison systems (Illinois, Arizona, and Minnesota).66 With respect to the impact on the number of prisoner-on-staff assaults after the opening of supermax facilities, although the number of staff assaults dropped in Illinois, staff injuries from prisoner assaults temporarily increased in Arizona, and there was no effect in Minnesota on the incidents of violence directed toward staff.67 While corrections administrators and officers remain concerned that a decrease in the use of segregated housing will endanger both incarcerated people and staff, the fear may be unsubstantiated. Colorado has decreased its use of segregated housing by 85 percent and prisoner-on-staff assaults are the lowest they have been since 2006.68 Colorado decreased its use of segregated housing by narrowing the criteria for placement and reducing the length of stay, which included a step-down program that allows those with compliant behavior to be 18 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES People who are prone to suicide ideation...will become more suicidal...People who are psychotic in any way…will have another breakdown. VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 19 released to the general population.69 Other states (for example, Illinois, Maine, New Mexico, and Washington) have also reduced their use of segregated housing and increased the use of alternative strategies.70 Although it is too soon to fully assess outcomes in these states, evidence to date suggests there has been little or no increase in violence.71 MISCONCEPTION #7 Segregated housing deters misbehavior and violence Many prison officials support the use of segregated housing for managing disruptive and violent behavior because they believe that it has both a general and individual deterrent effect on misbehavior.72 However, empirical and anecdotal evidence suggests that segregated housing may have little influence on improving the behavior of incarcerated people. Studies have contrasted “control-oriented” prisons, which rely on formal sanctions like segregated housing, with others that are “responsibility-based,” which provide incarcerated people with self-governance opportunities, or “consensual,” which incorporate features of both the control-oriented and responsibility-based models of prison management.73 Researchers tested the relationship between these approaches and prison order and found that prisons that employed a responsibility-based or consensual management model experienced lower levels of minor and serious disorder than prisons that were more control oriented.74 Moreover, there is no evidence that confinement in a supermax facility produces a deterrent effect on the individual.75 A recent study found that exposure to short-term disciplinary segregation as a punishment for initial violence did not deter incarcerated people from committing further violence in prison.76 Some theoretical models describe the behavior of incarcerated people as a reaction to the strains, frustrations, and pains of imprisonment combined with little access to mitigating factors.77 Subjecting incarcerated people to the severe conditions of segregated housing and treating them as the “worst of the worst” can lead them to become more, not less, violent.78 Rather than rely on segregated housing to deter misbehavior, some prison systems are providing incarcerated people who are most likely to misbehave with special programming. For example, Washington has an Intensive Transition Program for incarcerated people with chronic behavior problems who are frequently placed in segregated housing, in which they move through a curriculum in stages, progressively learning self-control and gradually engaging in opportunities to socialize until they are ready to return to the prison’s general population.79 Pennsylvania is in the process of implementing Behavior Modification Units with a similar focus.80 20 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES exposure to short-term disciplinary segregation as a punishment for initial violence did not deter A recent study found that incarcerated people from committing further violence in prison. VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 21 MISCONCEPTION #8 Segregated housing is the only way to protect the vulnerable Some people in segregated housing are not violent and do not misbehave but require or request protection from the general population. These include incarcerated people who suffer from mental illness, have developmental or intellectual disabilities, are vulnerable because of their sexuality (e.g., they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender), may be retaliated against by other prisoners (e.g., they are former gang members or have testified against someone in the facility), committed sex offenses against children, or are former law enforcement officers or public officials. Many prison officials believe these vulnerable incarcerated people can only be kept safe by placing them in segregated housing with conditions as restrictive as those imposed on people who commit the most violent and dangerous acts. Some jurisdictions are taking a different approach. Rather than isolating those at risk of victimization, they are creating specialized units, which house vulnerable incarcerated people together and provide privileges and programs that are similar to those available in the general population units.81 In Washington state, for example, the Skill Building Unit houses incarcerated people with developmental and intellectual disabilities in a general population setting that is dedicated to meeting their needs.82 The unit provides out-of-cell programming, including daily opportunities to interact with each other and staff during meals and recreation in the dayroom. Unit residents also participate in supported work and other activities to help them function more independently while in prison and upon release. Corrections officers assigned to the unit are trained how to respond appropriately to people with special needs and help them live healthy and safe lives.83 The Washington Department of Corrections reports that the unit has resulted in safer living conditions for these incarcerated people and safer working conditions for corrections staff.84 Still other jurisdictions have reformed or are in the process of reforming their use of segregated housing for certain types of vulnerable incarcerated people: Pennsylvania now sends those with significant mental illness, who formerly would have been placed in disciplinary or administrative segregation, to therapeutic units; New York State banned the use of segregated housing to discipline pregnant women or any incarcerated person under the age of 18; in California, a federal judge has ordered the state to find more suitable housing for physically disabled prisoners; and New York City has pledged to eliminate the use of segregated housing for all incarcerated people aged 21 years old and younger.85 Alaska and Maine have also enacted laws that ban the use of segregated housing for juveniles for punitive reasons.86 22 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES Rather than isolating those at risk of victimization, [some jurisdictions] are creating specialized units, and provide privileges and programs which house vulnerable incarcerated people together that are similar to those available in the general population units. VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 23 MISCONCEPTION #9 Safe alternatives to segregated housing are expensive A common objection among corrections officials to reducing the use of segregation is that few safe alternatives exist and they are too costly to implement. However, growing concern among policymakers and the public about overincarceration in the United States has put the use of segregated housing under particular scrutiny, and for good reason: segregated housing harms those subject to it, produces little, if any, improvement in public and prison safety, and is much more expensive than less restrictive housing. The significant fiscal costs associated with building and operating segregated housing units and facilities are due to the reliance on single-cell confinement, enhanced surveillance and security technology, and the need for more corrections staff (to handle escorts, increased searches, and individualized services).87 For example, in 2013, the estimated daily cost per inmate at the federal administrative maximum (supermax) facility was $216.12 compared to $85.74 to house people in the general prison population.88 In 2003, the daily per capita costs of operating a supermax prison in Ohio were estimated at two-to-three times that of regular security units—$149 per day compared to $63 per day, with one corrections officer for every 1.7 prisoners in supermax compared to one for every 2.5 in less restricted housing.89 Many of the policy and practice changes undertaken by jurisdictions to reduce their reliance on segregated housing described in this report cost little to implement. Time and patience are required, but not necessarily an enhanced budget. In addition, many of the alternative programs, such as reentry programming and integrated housing units, may only require extending programs that already exist, which would save on start-up costs. Finally, by safely decreasing the number of incarcerated people held in segregated housing, jurisdictions may be able not only to close expensive segregation units and supermax prisons, but free up the staff and other resources needed to pursue evidence-based programming that will help many more incarcerated people return successfully to their communities. 24 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES cost per inmate at the federal supermax facility was $216.12 compared to $85.74 to house people in the general prison population. In 2013, the daily VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 25 MISCONCEPTION #10 Incarcerated people are rarely released directly to the community from segregated housing While national data are not available, jurisdictions often hold people in segregated housing until they complete their sentences, releasing them directly to the community. Between 1987 and 2007, California released an estimated 900 incarcerated people each year directly to the community from its secure housing units; in 2013, Texas released more than 1,200 incarcerated people in this way.90 Releasing people directly from segregated housing into the community sets them up for failure—and endangers the safety and well-being of the communities to which they return—because in segregated housing, people more often than not receive no reentry planning services or rehabilitative programming, such as substance abuse counseling or classes related to life skills or anger management. Moreover, data from some states suggest that recidivism rates for incarcerated people who have been held in segregated housing, regardless of whether they are released directly to the community, is significantly higher than for those who have not spent time in segregated housing while in prison. A 2001 review of recidivism data in Connecticut found that 92 percent of those who had been held in administrative segregation were rearrested within three years, compared to 66 percent of incarcerated people who had not been held in administrative segregation.91 Another study found that confinement in supermax housing is associated with an increased risk of violent reoffending.92 In Colorado, the recidivism rate for those who had been held in administrative segregation was between 60 and 66 percent, while the recidivism rate for those in general population was 50 percent.93 While the research is mixed, there is at least one study that shows the likelihood of reoffending by those who have been held in segregated housing may be reduced by returning them to the general prison population for as brief a period as three months before they are released to the community.94 In Colorado, all people leaving restrictive housing (formerly called administrative segregation) spend up to 180 days in a transition unit where they receive cognitive behavioral programming and spend six hours a day outside of their cell before they return to the general prison population or to their communities.95 Other jurisdictions have introduced reentry programming to those in segregated housing, primarily aimed at helping them re-socialize and get accustomed to interacting with other people. New Mexico created a Re-Entry and Release Unit for people in segregated housing who are within 180 days of release where 26 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES ...the typical circumstances and conditions of segregated damage, sometimes irreparably, the people thus confined and the communities housing... to which they return— and fail to make prisons and jails any safer... VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 27 they participate in education and behavioral health programming, are not in restraints during group education activities, and move freely amongst other incarcerated people in recreation areas.96 Conclusion Segregated housing remains a mainstay of prison management and control in U.S. prisons and jails largely because many jurisdictions still subscribe to some or all of the common misconceptions laid out in this report. Few in American corrections would dispute that its use may be unavoidable from time to time and for very brief periods to manage incarcerated people who have committed especially violent or dangerous acts. However, increasingly, policymakers, corrections officials, and the general public are justifiably questioning the human and societal toll of its widespread use. A large body of evidence has now well established that the typical circumstances and conditions of segregated housing—the deprivation of regular social intercourse and interaction, the removal of the rudimentary sights and sounds of life, and the severe restrictions on such basic human activities as eating, showering, or recreating—damage, sometimes irreparably, the people thus confined and the communities to which they return. And they fail to make prisons and jails any safer for those incarcerated or for the people who work in them. Much of this research affirms the objections expressed by the United States Supreme Court 125 years ago in its landmark case of In re Medley. The court declared that solitary confinement is not “a mere unimportant regulation as to the safe-keeping of the prisoner.…[A] considerable number of the prisoners… f[a]ll, after even a short confinement, into a semi-fatuous condition…[while] others bec[o]me violently insane; others still, [commit] suicide; while those who st[an]d the ordeal better [are] not generally reformed, and in most cases d[o] not recover sufficient mental activity to be of any subsequent service to the community.”97 Whether prompted by the public’s growing appetite for broad criminal justice reform or compelled by court orders, some jurisdictions are making progress. But much more remains to be done. Every effort must involve the implementation of policies and practices that effectively ban the use of segregated housing as an emergency response to minor rule infractions and as the default placement for those in need of protection—such as incarcerated people with serious mental illness, physical disabilities, or who are at risk of sexual victimization or violent retaliation. Not only will safe alternatives to segregated housing improve overall conditions in prisons and jails, but they will help build the foundation all incarcerated people need to return successfully to their communities. 28 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 29 ENDNOTES 1 Percent increase calculation done by Vera Institute of Justice researchers as part of its Segregation Reduction Project, based on data from the 1995 and 2005 Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities. For an estimate of the number of people in segregated housing in 1995, see U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities, 1995 [Computer file]. Conducted by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. ICPSR ed. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [producer and distributor], 1998. Doi:10.3886/ICPSR06953.v1. For an estimate of the number of people in segregated housing in 2005, see United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities, 2005. ICPSR24642-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010-10-05. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR24642. v2. 2 For the estimate of 25,000 incarcerated people in segregated housing, see Daniel P. Mears, Evaluating the Effectiveness of Supermax Prisons (Washington, DC: Urban Institute, 2006), 4. For the estimate of approximately 80,000 incarcerated people in segregated housing, see United States Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Census of State and Federal Adult Correctional Facilities, 2005. ICPSR24642-v2. Ann Arbor, MI: Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2010-10-05. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR24642.v2. 3 In 2002, 40 states responded to a National Institute of Corrections survey with respondents having an average of 5 percent of prisoners in administrative and disciplinary custody. See James Austin and Kenneth McGinnis, Classification of High-Risk and Special Management Prisoners: A National Assessment of Current Practices, (Washington, DC: US Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, 2004), 29-30. https://s3.amazonaws.com/static.nicic.gov/Library/019468. pdf. This mirrors more recent calculations. For example, in 2010, 5.3 percent of Washington state’s prison population was in segregated housing. This included 2.1 percent held in administrative or disciplinary segregation and 3.2 percent in the highest custody level of maximum. See Bernie Warner, secretary, Washington Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, March 12, 2015. In 2011, seven percent of Colorado’s prison population was held in administrative segregation. See James Austin and Emmitt Sparkman, Colorado Department of Corrections Administrative Segregation and Classification Review, (Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections, 2011, Technical Assistance # 11P1022) https://www.aclu. org/files/assets/final_ad_seg.pdf. In 2014, 5.1 percent of Pennsylvania’s prison population was held in segregated housing. See Shirley Moore Smeal, executive deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, February 27, 2015. For information on the percentage of incarcerated people in segregation in the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, see CNA, Federal Bureau of Prisons: Special Housing Unit Review and Assessment (Washington, DC: CNA, December, 2014). A report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found seven percent of the prison population housed in segregated housing as of February, 2013. U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Bureau of Prisons: Improvements Needed in Bureau of Prisons’ Monitoring and Evaluation of Impact of Segregated Housing (Washington, DC: GAO, 2013). 4 Ted Conover, “From Gitmo to an American Supermax, the Horrors of Solitary Confinement,” Vanity Fair, January 16, 2015; Laura Dimon, “How Solitary Confinement Hurts the Teenage Brain,” The Atlantic, June 30, 2014; and Atul Gawande, “Hellhole,” The New Yorker, March 30, 2009. 5 See Benjamin Wallace-Wells, “The Plot From Solitary,” New York Magazine, February 26, 2014. 6 United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, Reassessing Solitary Confinement: The Human Rights, Fiscal, and Public Safety Consequences, June 19, 2012, http://www.judiciary.senate.gov/imo/ 30 media/doc/CHRG-112shrg87630.pdf; United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Consequences, Reassessing Solitary Confinement II: The Human Rights, Fiscal, and Public Safety Consequences, February 25, 2014, http://www. judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/reassessing-solitary-confinement-ii-thehuman-rights-fiscal-and-public-safety-consequences. 7 Eli Hager and Gerald Rich, “Shifting Away from Solitary,” The Marshall Project, December 23, 2014. Also, South Dakota repealed a law that allowed a county prisoner to be kept in solitary confinement on bread and water for refusal to labor or obey necessary orders, see 2014 S.D. Laws 118 repealed S.D. Codified Laws § 24-11-34 (2014). 8 “The department shall not place a person with serious mental illness in long-term isolated confinement except when exigent circumstances are present,” Colorado Revised Statute, 17-1-113.8 (2014). 9 In September 2014, the New York City Department of Correction ordered the end of solitary confinement for 16- and 17-year-olds by the end of the year. See Michael Shwirtz, “Solitary Confinement to End for Youngest at Rikers Island,” New York Times, September 28, 2014. In January 2015, the New York City Board of Correction adopted rules relating to enhanced supervision housing and punitive segregation, which stated that sufficient resources are made available for staffing and implementing necessary alternative programming; as of January 1, 2016, inmates ages 18 through 21 will no longer be placed in enhanced supervision housing. Rules of the City of New York, Chapter 1, Title 40, §1-16 (c)(1)(ii). 10 Rick Raemisch, “My Night in Solitary,” New York Times, February 20, 2014, p. A25, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/21/opinion/my-nightin-solitary.html. For several personalized accounts of life in segregated housing, see American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, Texas Civil Rights Project-Houston, A Solitary Failure: The Waste, Cost and Harm of Solitary Confinement in Texas (Houston: ACLU, 2015). 11 For more information on double celling, see Scarlet Kim, Taylor Pendergrass, and Helen Zelon, Boxed In: The True Cost of Extreme Isolation in New York’s Prisons (New York: NYCLU, 2012), 34: “Doublecelled prisoners experience the same isolation and idleness, withdrawal and anxiety, anger and depression as do prisoners living alone in the SHU. But double-celled, they must also endure the constant, unabating presence of another man in their personal physical and mental space.” 12 Caroline Isaacs and Matthew Lowen, Buried Alive: Solitary Confinement in Arizona’s Prisons and Jails (Arizona: American Friends Service Committee: 2007), 10-11. 13 Craig Haney, “Mental Health Issues in Long-Term Solitary and ‘Supermax’ Confinement,” Crime & Delinquency 49, no. 1 (2003): 126. 14 Isaacs and Lowen, 2007, p. 11. 15 Haney, 2003, p. 126; Eric Lanes, “The Association of Administrative Segregation Placement and Other Risk Factors with the Self-Injury-Free Time of Male Prisoners,” Journal of Offender Rehabilitation 48 (2009): 532; Fred Cohen, “Isolation in Penal Settings: The Isolation-Restraint Paradigm,” Washington University Journal of Law & Policy, 22 (2006): 297-299. 16 Kellie Wasco, deputy director, Colorado Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 17, 2015. 17 Benjamin Weiser, “New York State in Deal to Limit Solitary Confinement,” The New York Times, February 19, 2014. 18 American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, Change is Possible: A Case Study of Solitary Confinement Reform in Maine (Portland, ME: ACLU of ME, 2013), 13. http://www.aclumaine.org/sites/default/files/uploads/ users/admin/ACLU_ Solitary_Report_webversion.pdf. SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES 19 20 21 For information on Washington state, see Bernie Warner, secretary, Washington Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, March 12, 2015. For additional information on Washington, see Jonathan Martin, “State Prisons Rethink Solitary Confinement,” Seattle Times (January 7, 2013). For information on New Mexico, see Gregg Marcantel, secretary, New Mexico Corrections Department, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, March 25, 2015. For information on Pennsylvania, see Shirley Moore Smeal, executive deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, February 27, 2015; Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, “STGMU Program” (unpublished memorandum, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, 2014). Carlyne Kujath, manager, Strategic Operations, Washington Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 15, 2015. For information on Michigan, see Daniel Heyns, “Incentives in Segregation Program,” Director’s Office Memorandum (December 23, 2014) http://www.michigan.gov/documents/corrections/DOM_20155_478829_7.pdf. 22 “Virginia Step Down Program for Administrative Segregation,” Southern Legislative Conference (2013), http://www.slcatlanta.org/ STAR/2013documents/VA_Step_Down.pdf. Mississippi also uses a step down unit for prisoners with significant mental illness, see Terry A. Kupers et al., “Beyond Supermax Administrative Segregation: Mississippi’s Experience Rethinking Prison Classification and Creating Alternative Mental Health Programs,” Criminal Justice and Behavior 36 (2009): 1037-50. Maine conducts risk assessments for each prisoner in administrative segregation and uses this information to develop individualized behavioral programs, which can include in cell as well as group counseling. See American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, 2013. 23 Haney, 2003, p. 127. In a survey of supermax admission characteristics, Butler and Griffin found 36 percent of states responded that gang membership or participation in a security threat group was an adequate reason for inmate supermax placement. See H. Daniel Butler, O. Hayden Griffin III, and W. Wesley Johnson, “What Makes You the ‘Worst of the Worst?’: An Examination of State Policies Defining Supermax Confinement,” Criminal Justice Policy Review 24, no. 6 (2012): 687. 24 25 At least 46 states have specific criteria that govern who is placed in long-term administrative segregations. See Hope Metcalf et al., “Administrative Segregation, Degrees of Isolation, and Incarceration: A National Overview of State and Federal Correction Policies,” Public Law Working Paper (New Haven: Yale Law School, 2013), 2, http://papers. ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2286861; and Haney, 2003, p. 127. For information on incarcerated people in segregation due to mental instability, see Craig Haney, 2003, pp. 124-156. For information on children in segregated housing, see American Civil Liberties Union and Human Rights Watch, Growing Up Locked Down: Youth in Solitary Confinement in Jails and Prisons Across the United States (New York: ACLU & HRW, 2012) https://www.aclu.org/files/assets/ us1012webwcover.pdf. Additional reasons to place someone in protective custody include advanced age, former affiliation as a law enforcement officer, the crime committed (e.g., a particularly heinous act or sex offenders), owe debts to others in the facility, and testified against someone in the facility. 26 Angela Browne, Alissa Cambier, and Suzanne Agha, “Prisons Within Prisons: The Use of Segregation in the United States,” Federal Sentencing Reporter 24, no. 1 (2011): 46-49. 27 Leena Kurki and Norval Morris, “The Purposes, Practices, and Problems of Supermax Prisons,” Crime and Justice, 28 (2001): 385-424, 389; David Lovell, Kristin Cloyes, David Allen, and Lorna Rhodes, “Who Lives in Super-Maximum Custody? A Washington State Study,” Federal Probation Journal 64, no. 2 (2000): 33-38; and Jean Casella and James Ridgeway, “New York’s Black Sites,” The Nation (July 30-August 6, 2012). 28 Bryan Gleckler, chief of staff, Illinois Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 3, 2015. 29 Shirley Moore Smeal, executive deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, February 27, 2015. 30 An investigation revealed that South Carolina was sending incarcerated people caught posting on social media sites to segregated housing for an average of 512 days. See Emily Bazelon, “The Shame of Solitary Confinement,” New York Times, February 19, 2015. 31 Testimony of Piper Kerman, Senate Committee on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, “Reassessing Solitary Confinement II: The Human Rights, Fiscal, and Public Safety Consequences,” (February 24, 2014), http://www.judiciary. senate.gov/imo/media/doc/02-25-14KermanTestimony.pdf. 32 Ram Subramanian and Alison Shames, Sentencing and Prison Practices in Germany and the Netherlands: Implications for the United States (New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2013), 13. The corrections systems in Germany and the Netherlands embrace two principles that the National Research Council finds particularly missing from current criminal justice policies and practices in the United States: proportionality—i.e., offenses should be punished in proportion to their seriousness—and parsimony—i.e., the period of confinement should be sufficient but not greater than necessary to achieve the goals of the disciplinary policy. See National Research Council, Committee on Causes and Consequences of High Rates of Incarceration, Jeremy Travis, Bruce Western, and Steve Redburn, eds., The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2014). 33 Subramanian and Shames, 2013, p. 13. 34 These violations are eligible for informal resolution, which does not permit segregated housing as a sanction. Should these violations be referred for formal resolution, the only sanctions levied are those sanctions other than segregated housing. 35 Bryan Gleckler, chief of staff, Illinois Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 3, 2015. 36 American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, 2013, p. 15. 37 Washington Department of Corrections, Prison Sanctioning Guidelines (DOC 320.150 Attachment 2), on file with Vera. 38 Ryan Jacobs and Jaeah Lee, “Maps: Solitary Confinement, State by State,” Mother Jones, November/December 2012. 39 See American Correctional Association, Standards for Adult Correctional Institutions (4th edition, 2003), § 4-4249. For information on review while in administrative segregation, see Hope Metcalf et al., 2013, pp. 15-17, http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_ id=2286861. 40 Cohen, 2006, p. 300. 41 Raemisch, 2014, p. A25. 42 For information on length of stay in Illinois, see Illinois Department of Corrections, Tamms Closed Maximum Security Unit: Overview and Ten-Point Plan (Springfield, IL: Illinois Department of Corrections, September 3, 2009), p. 39, Table 4; in Washington, Carlyne Kujath, manager of strategic operations, Washington Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 17, 2015; and in Texas, see American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, 2015, 2. This report does not specify the year(s) for which data was analyzed. According to the report’s author, the average length of stay in Texas VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 31 was calculated using data available as of August 13, 2013. Burke Butler, Arthur Liman Fellow, the Texas Civil Rights Project, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 18, 2015. 43 Bernie Warner, secretary, Washington Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, March 12, 2015. 44 In a review of the policies of 47 jurisdictions, Metcalf et al. found that every jurisdiction required some form of review of prisoners in administrative segregation. The majority of jurisdictions required an initial review within seven days with subsequent reviews ranging from weekly to yearly. The decision makers for the review can include facility staff, warden, a specially designated committee, and high-level administrators. Additional research is needed on whether and how the frequency of reviews correlates with the length of time spent in segregation. Metcalf et al., 2013, pp. 15-16. 45 Shirley Moore Smeal, executive deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, February 27, 2015. Kellie Wasco, deputy director, Colorado Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 17, 2015. 46 Shirley Moore Smeal, executive deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, February 27, 2015. 47 Data obtained from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation reveals that 69 percent of Security Housing Unit case reviews led to release to a step down program or a general population setting and 63 percent of administrative segregation unit case reviews led to a return to the general population. See Sal Rodriguez, “In California Prisons, Hundreds Have Been Removed from Solitary Confinement—and Thousands Remain,” Solitary Watch, January 27, 2015. 48 Paul Gendreau, Sheila A. French, and Angela Gionet, “What Works (What Doesn’t Work): The Principles of Effective Correctional Treatment,” Journal of Community Corrections 13 (Spring 2004): 5. 49 Metcalf et al. specify Connecticut, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Virginia as states that have structured programs that target behavior issues. Metcalf et al., 2013, p. 18. 50 51 32 Bernie Warner, secretary, Washington Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, March 12, 2015. The Washington State Department of Corrections uses the RiskNeed-Responsivity Model as a foundation of the Washington State Department of Corrections Offender Change Model. For more information on the Risk-Need-Responsivity model, see James Bonta and D. A. Andrews, Risk-Need-Responsivity Model for Offender Assessment and Rehabilitation (Ottawa: Public Safety Canada, 2007), http://www. publicsafety.gc.ca/cnt/rsrcs/pblctns/rsk-nd-rspnsvty/index-eng.aspx. David H. Cloud, Ernest Drucker, Angela Browne, and Jim Parsons, “Public Health and Solitary Confinement in the United States,” American Journal of Public Health, 105, no.1 (2015): 18-26. For a comprehensive summary of the published studies documenting this statement see Haney, 2003, pp. 124-156. On historical research on the “sizable and impressively sophisticated literature, now largely forgotten,” that documented significant damage to incarcerated people held in segregated housing, see Peter Scharff Smith, “The Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prison Inmates: A Brief History and Review of the Literature,” Crime and Justice, 34, no. 1 (2006): 441. One contrasting study of incarcerated people in administrative segregated housing in Colorado found no mental deterioration while in segregation, see Maureen L. O’Keefe et al., “One Year Longitudinal Study of the Psychological Effects of Administrative Segregation.” (National Institute of Justice Document 232973, October 2010). However, experts with long professional track records in correctional mental health have taken issue with the design of that study and caution not to draw any conclusions from the study. See Kirsten Weir, “Alone in the Hole: Psychologists Probe the Mental Health Effects of Solitary Confinement,” American Psychological Association 43, no. 5 (May 2012): 54, http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/05/solitary.aspx; and Stuart Grassian and Terry Kupers, “The Colorado Study vs. the Reality of Supermax Confinement,” Correctional Mental Health Report, 13, no.1 (May/June 2011): 1-4. 52 For information on the “potent mix,” see Sharon Shalev, A Sourcebook on Solitary Confinement (London: Mannheim Centre for Criminology, London School of Economics, 2008). For information on negative effects of solitary confinement, see Haney, 2003, pp. 130-136; Paul Gendreau, et al. “Changes in EEG Alpha Frequency and Evoked Response Latency During Solitary Confinement,” Journal of Abnormal Psychology 79 (1972), 57-58; Stuart Grassian, “Psychiatric Effects of Solitary Confinement,” Washington University Journal of Law & Policy, 22 (January 2006): 325-383; Stuart Grassian, “Psychopathological Effects of Solitary Confinement,” American Journal of Psychiatry 140, no.11 (1983): 1450-1454. 53 See Craig Haney and Mona Lynch, “Regulating Prisons of the Future: A Psychological Analysis of Supermax and Solitary Confinement,” New York University Review of Law and Social Change 23 (1997): 568. 54 While precise estimates are difficult, Professor Haney writes that the number of prisoners in segregated housing with mental illness may be twice as high as in the general prison population. See Haney, 2003, pp. 124-156; Sasha Abramsky and Jamie Fellner Ill-Equipped: US Prisons and Offenders With Mental Illness (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2003); David Lovell, “Patterns of Disturbed Behavior in a Supermax Prison,” Criminal Justice and Behavior 3, no. 8 (2008): 985-1004. 55 Abramsky and Fellner, 2003, available at http://www.hrw.org/ reports/2003/usa1003/18.htm, citing an e-mail from Dr. Terry A. Kupers, who testified in Jones ‘El v. Berge, 164 F. Supp 2d 1096 (W.D. Wisconsin, 2001), which challenged the conditions in a Wisconsin supermax. 56 Fatos Kaba et al., “Solitary Confinement and Risk of Self-Harm Among Jail Inmates,” American Journal of Public Health 104, no. 3, (2014): 442-447; Eric Charles Lanes, “Are the ‘Worst of the Worst’ Self-Injurious Prisoners More Likely to End Up in Long-Term Maximum-Security Administrative Segregation?” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 55, no. 7 (2011): 1034-1050. 57 Kevin Johnson, “Inmate Suicides Linked to Solitary,” USA Today, December 27, 2006. 58 American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, 2015, p. 10. Rates for suicide and self-harm calculated using data from fiscal year 2013 per Burke Butler, Arthur Limas Fellow, Texas Civil Rights Project, email exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 18, 2015. 59 For an examination of suicides from 1993-2003, see Bruce Way et al., “Inmate Suicide and Time Spent in Special Disciplinary Housing in New York State Prison,” Psychiatric Services 58, no. 4 (2007): 558-560. 60 Samantha Melamed, “Deal Aims to End Solitary Confinement For Seriously Mentally Ill Prisoners in Pa.” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 8, 2015. 61 Colorado Revised Statute, 17-1-113.8 (2014). 62 Bernie Warner, secretary, Washington Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, March 12, 2015. 63 See Mears, 2006, p. 41; Chad S. Briggs, Jody L. Sundt, and Thomas C. Castellano, “The Effect of Supermaximum Security Prisons on Aggregate Levels of Institutional Violence,” Criminology 41, issue 4 (2003): 1342. 64 Mears, 2006, p. 42. Interestingly, the physical conditions of a prison— some of which are present in segregated housing units—have been found to relate to misconduct, with worse levels of noise, clutter, dilapidation, and lack of privacy predicting higher levels of violence. D.M. Bierie, “Is Tougher Better? The Impact of Physical Prison SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES Conditions on Inmate Violence,” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 56, no. 3 (2012): 338-355. 65 There are few, if any, credible studies on the impact of administrative segregation on facility safety, see Daniel P. Mears, “Supermax Prisons: The Policy and the Evidence,” Criminology & Public Policy 12, no. 4 (2013): 681-720. The authors of a report on the use of segregated housing in federal prisons said that the literature does not make it “clear if there is a causal relationship between segregation policies and institutional safety,” see CNA, 2014. Moreover, the federal Bureau of Prison’s has never assessed whether the use of segregated housing has any effect on prison safety, see U.S Government Accountability Office (GAO), 2013, p. 33. 66 Briggs, Sundt, and Castellano, 2003, p. 1367. 67 Ibid, pp. 1365-1367. 68 In October 2009, Colorado Department of Corrections housed 1,166 incarcerated people in long-term administrative segregation. In April 2014, 215 incarcerated people were housed in long-term administrative segregation. Office of Planning and Analysis Prison Operations, Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC), SB 11-176 Annual Report: Administrative Segregation For Colorado Inmates (Colorado: CDOC, 2015), 3; Rick Raemisch, director, Colorado Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, February 27, 2015. 69 70 CNA, 2014, p. 48; and Office of Planning and Analysis Prison Operations, Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC), 2015, pp. 3-4. Colorado, Kansas, Maine, Mississippi, and Ohio greatly reduced their use of segregated housing and officials reported little or no adverse impact on facility safety, see U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), 2013, 34. Washington has reduced the number of prisoners assigned to maximum custody by 47 percent from January 2011 to December 2014, see Bernie Warner, secretary, Washington Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, March 12, 2015; Gregg Marcantel, secretary, New Mexico Corrections Department, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington DC, March 25, 2015. 71 When Maine cut its population in segregated housing, incidents of prison violence dropped. See American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, 2013, pp. 30-31. 72 Jesenia M. Pizarro and Raymund E. Narag, “Supermax Prisons: What We Know, What We Do Not Know, and Where We Are Going,” The Prison Journal 88, no. 1 (2008): 29; Mears, 2006. 73 John J. DiIulio, Governing Prisons: A Comparative Study of Correctional Management (New York: Free Press, 1987); and Michael D. Reisig, “Rates of Disorder in Higher-Custody State Prisons: A Comparative Analysis of Managerial Practices,” Crime and Delinquency, 44, no. 2 (1998), 230. 74 Michael D. Reisig, 1998, p. 239. 75 Chad S. Briggs, Jody L. Sundt, and Thomas C. Castellano, 2003, p. 1370. 76 Robert G. Morris, “Exploring the Effect of Exposure to Short-Term Solitary Confinement Among Violent Prison Inmates,” Journal of Quantitative Criminology DOI 10.1007/s10940-015-9250-0 (2015): 1-24. 77 See Kristie R. Blevins et al., “A General Strain Theory of Prison Violence and Misconduct: An Integrated Model of Inmate Behavior,” Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 26, no. 2 (2010): 148-166; Gresham M. Sykes, The Society of Captives (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1958); Hans Toch, Living in Prison: The Ecology of Survival (New York: Free Press,1977); and Burt Useem and Anne Piehl, “Prison Buildup and Disorder,” Punishment and Society 8, no. 1 (2006): 87-115. 78 Kate King, Benjamin Steiner, and Stephanie Ritchie Breach, “Violence in the Supermax: A Self-Fulfilling Prophecy,” The Prison Journal, 88, no. 1 (2008): 161-62. 79 Carlyne Kujath, manager, Strategic Operations, Washington Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 15, 2015. 80 See Shirley Moore Smeal, executive deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 10, 2015. 81 Pennsylvania houses prisoners with special needs in a specialized unit, which provides privileges and programming similar to those offered in the general population. See Shirley Moore Smeal, executive deputy secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 10, 2015. 82 Bernie Warner, secretary, Washington Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, March 12, 2015; Washington State Department of Corrections, “Skill Building Unit – Cedar Hall, WCC for Offenders with Cognitive Disabilities,” (unpublished memorandum, Washington State Department of Corrections) on file with Vera. More information is available at http://www.doc.wa.gov/facilities/prison/wcc/. 83 Ibid. 84 Bernie Warner, secretary, Washington Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, March 12, 2015. 85 For information on Pennsylvania, see Samantha Melamed, January 8, 2015, http://articles.philly.com/2015-01-08/news/57797425_1_ solitary-confinement-illness-inmates. For information on New York State, see Benjamin Weiser, February 19, 2014, http://www.nytimes. com/2014/02/20/nyregion/new-york-state-agrees-to-big-changes-inhow-prisons-discipline-inmates.html?ref=solitaryconfinement. Despite California’s agreement in 2012, the state continues to house disabled prisoners in segregation units. A federal judge ordered the state to suspend this practice in February 2015. Paige St. John, “Federal Judge Orders California to Stop Isolation Housing of Disabled Inmates,” Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2015. For New York City’s new policy, see endnote 9. 86 Alaska Delinquency Rule 13 (Oct. 15, 2012); Me. Rev. Stat. tit. 34-A § 3032 (5) (2006). 87 Daniel P. Mears and William D. Bales, “Supermax Incarceration and Recidivism,” Criminology 47, no. 4, 2009: 1135. 88 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), 2013, p. 32. 89 Calculating costs from 2003, see Mears, 2006, p. 26. 90 For information on California, see Keramet A. Reiter, “Parole, Snitch, or Die: California’s Supermax Prisons & Prisoners, 1987 – 2007,” Punishment and Society, 14 (2012): 552-553. For information on Texas, see American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, 2015, p. 2. 91 Legislative Program Review and Investigations Committee, Recidivism in Connecticut (2001), http://www.ct.gov/opm/lib/opm/cjppd/ cjresearch/recidivismstudy/2001recidivisminconnecticut.pdf. 92 Mears and Bales, 2009, p. 1151. The study found no effect of supermax incarceration on recidivism in general, but did find that supermax incarceration was associated with an increase in violent recidivism. Ibid, p. 1154. 93 Maureen L. O’Keefe, Analysis of Colorado’s Administrative Segregation (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Colorado Department of Corrections, 2005), iii, 25. This study of incarcerated people held in segregated VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 33 housing between 1995 and 2003 did not match incarcerated people (for example on past offending record, current offense, behavior while incarcerated) held in segregated housing with incarcerated people held in the general population. 94 One study shows that incarcerated people who are released from segregated housing directly to the community reoffend more quickly and at higher rates than those who spent at least three months back in the general prison population before their return to the community. See David Lovell, L. Clark Johnson, and Kevin C. Cain, “Recidivism of Supermax Prisoners in Washington State,” Crime and Delinquency 53 no. 4 (2007): 649-650. However, a different study found no evidence that the timing of the supermax experience influenced recidivism, see Mears and Bales, 2009, p. 1154. 95 Kellie Wasco, deputy director, Colorado Department of Corrections, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, April 17, 2015. Colorado Department of Corrections has not released any incarcerated person from administrative segregation or restrictive housing maximum security status directly to the community since May 2014. See Office of Planning and Analysis Prison Operations, Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC), 2015, p. 8. 96 Gregg Marcantel, secretary, New Mexico Corrections Department, e-mail exchange with Vera, Washington, DC, March 25, 2015. 97 See In re Medley, 134 US 160, 168 (1890), per Mr. Justice Miller. 34 SOLITARY CONFINEMENT: COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS AND EMERGING SAFE ALTERNATIVES Acknowledgments The authors would like to thank Christine Herrman and Fred Patrick for their insight and guidance throughout the drafting of this report. We would like to thank Sara Sullivan for her review and comments and Angela Browne, Léon Digard, and Ari Agha for their assistance in understanding and explaining the research data. A special thank you to Patricia Connelly for her help and expertise in the planning and editing of this report; Paragini Amin for designing the report; and, finally, Mary Crowley for her generous assistance. This publication is the first in a series about solitary confinement, its use and misuse, and how to safely reduce it in our prisons and jails. This series was made possible in part by the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust. Both during his lifetime and currently through his charitable trust, Mr. Wilson supported Vera’s work with government partners around the country to reduce our nation’s reliance on solitary confinement and improve conditions of confinement. We are honored to name this series of publications in his memory. About Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative In March 2015, the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) launched the Safe Alternatives to Segregation (SAS) Initiative—a two-year national campaign aimed at reducing the number of incarcerated people held in segregated housing while simultaneously improving safety in prisons and jails. In addition to providing technical assistance to state and local jurisdictions selected through a competitive bidding process, SAS features a series of publications and an online resource center (to be launched in June 2015) that highlight the latest research and policy analysis by leaders in the field. For more information about SAS, contact Christine Herrman, project director, Center on Sentencing and Corrections, at firstname.lastname@example.org. © Vera Institute of Justice 2015. All rights reserved. An electronic version of this report is posted on Vera’s website at www.vera. org/solitary-confinement-misconceptions-safe-alternatives. Image credits: Cover, RIRF Stock/Shutterstock; Page 5, Ed Kashi/VII; Page 9, Frances A. Miller/Shutterstock; Page 13, trekandshoot/ Shutterstock; Page 19, Alexander Chaikin/Shutterstock; Page 21, schafar/Shutterstock; Page 23, Ed Kashi/VII; Page 25, Eddies Images/Shutterstock; Page 27, photoiva/Shutterstock. The Vera Institute of Justice is an independent nonprofit organization that combines expertise in research, demonstration projects, and technical assistance to help leaders in government and civil society improve the systems people rely on for justice and safety. For more information, visit www.vera.org. For more information about this report, contact Ram Subramanian, director of publications, Center on Sentencing and Corrections, at email@example.com. VERA INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE 35 Suggested Citation Alison Shames et al. Solitary Confinement: Common Misconceptions and Emerging Safe Alternatives. New York, NY: Vera Institute of Justice, 2015. 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