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Briefing Paper: The Dangerous Overuse of Solitary Confinement in the United States

This is an excellent resource for understanding current findings regarding solitary confinement and the potential challenges your agency may face. "Over the last two decades, the use of solitary confinement in U.S. correctional facilities has surged. Before 1990, “supermax” prisons were rare. Now, 44 states and the federal government have supermax units, where prisoners are held in extreme isolation, often for years or even decades. On any given day in this country, it’s estimated that over 80,000 prisoners are held in isolated confinement ... As fiscal realities are forcing us to cut budgets for things like health and education, it is time to ask whether we should continue to use solitary confinement despite its high fiscal and human costs. This briefing paper provides an overview of the excessive use of solitary confinement in the U.S. and strategies for safely restricting its use." Sections of this publication cover: what solitary confinement is; how solitary confinement affects people; the impact of solitary confinement in people with mental illness; the people who are held in solitary confinement; whether children are ever held in solitary confinement; whether solitary confinement makes prison safer; whether solitary confinement is cost-effective; whether solitary confinement makes the public safer; and better alternatives-federal and state reforms. "Laws Limiting or Requiring Study of Solitary Confinement" and "Pending or Recently Proposed (2013 or 2014) Solitary Confinement Reform Bills" are appended.