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Locked Up In America: Solitary Nation

If you are looking for a balanced approach to the use of solitary confinement by prisons then this program is for you. The strength of this film is that it presents an excellent look at the extremely difficult working conditions correctional officers face in managing inmates in segregation while it also shows why inmates end up in solitary and how inmates react to this segregation.

Topics discussed include:

  • the flooding of the unit;
  • extraction of a self-abusive inmate who has seriously cut himself;
  • reasons inmates are housed in segregation--judged too dangerous to be around other people, for their own protection, or for disruptive behavior;
  • passing of notes between cells; cleaning/disinfecting a cell of blood;
  • the use of solitary confinement as reform in the 1800s till it was determined it drove the prisoners mad;
  • the reemergence of segregation in the 1980s to stamp out violence in institutions;
  • states are rethinking use of segregation;
  • senior prison staff concerns about releasing some of extremely dangerous inmates into the general population;
  • inmate manipulation;
  • the mental health unit;
  • tough choices on who to release--leave inmates in too long potential to make them more disturbed, yet move out soon they could endanger staff, other prisoners, or themselves;
  • and the step down unit transferring individuals from solitary to general population-beginning with a lot of restrictions that are reduced as good behavior is exhibited.

This film contains scenes of self-harm and violence.