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American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) (New York, NY)

"The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) confines 4.4 percent of its prison population in solitary confinement. Texas locks more people in solitary-confinement cells than twelve states house in their entire prison system. On average, prisoners remain in solitary confinement for almost four years; over one hundred Texas prisoners have spent more than twenty years in solitary confinement. The conditions in which these people live impose such severe deprivations that they leave prison mentally damaged; as a group, people released from solitary are more likely to commit more new crimes than people released from the rest of the prison system. Yet in 2013, TDCJ released 1,243 people directly from solitary-confinement cells into Texas communities. These prisoners return to society after living for years or decades in a tiny cell for twenty-two hours a day, with no contact with other human beings or access to educational or rehabilitative programs. As documented in this report, this dangerous and expensive practice is making our state less safe" (p. 2). Section of this report following an executive summary discussing findings and recommendations: background—the early failure of solitary confinement, the misguided return to solitary confinement in the late Twentieth-Century, and the renewed consensus that solitary is a dangerous and expensive correctional practice; solitary confinement increases crime—solitary permanently damages people who will one day return to Texas communities, and the consequences of overusing solitary is more crime in Texas communities; Texas overuses solitary confinement at tremendous cost to taxpayers—costs are at least $46 million a year; TDCJ increases prison violence by overusing solitary confinement—solitary makes Texas prisons less safe, solitary deprives officers of the option to incentivize good behavior, violence escalates when officers deny people in solitary basic necessities, and other states improved prison safety by reducing solitary; mentally ill people deteriorate in solitary confinement-the universal consensus is that you should never place the seriously mentally ill in solitary, Texas sends thousands of people with mental illness to solitary, and TDCJ inadequately monitors and treats people with mental illness in solitary; and conclusion—values and commitments as Texans.

A Confinement in Texas Solitary Failure: The Waste, Cost and Harm of Solitary Cover

The double punishment experienced by death-sentenced prisoners is documented. This publication should be read by any stakeholder connected with the capital punishment process—policy leaders, lawyers, judges, and the public. Sections contained in this report are: introduction; trapped in a broken system; punishment on top of punishment; survey reveals majority of death rows hold prisoners in solitary confinement—cramped and bare cells are the norm, most on death row experience extreme isolation and inactivity, and too many on death row are denied religious services; the devastating effects of prolonged solitary confinement are well known; “death row phenomenon” and staggering delays exacerbate damage; and conclusion. “Regardless of their stance on the death penalty, the people of the United States understand that a fair justice system must be a humane justice system. And by this measure, we are currently failing. It is time for reformers on both sides of the death penalty debate to recognize the hidden harms of solitary confinement inflicted on death row prisoners across the country. Solitary confinement is not part of the sentence. In order to build a criminal justice system that accurately reflects our values, we must end the routine use of solitary confinement of death row prisoners” (p. 3).

A Death Before Dying: Solitary Confinement on Death Row Cover

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.

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

The successful efforts of individuals to reduce the use of solitary confinement and to make the conditions found in solitary settings are described. Sections of this case study include: introduction; the origins of solitary confinement; the psychological effects of long-term isolation; before the reforms—solitary confinement in Maine; it does not have to be this way—the Maine reform example of what and how it happened; keys to success—honest assessment and organizing and cooperation; overcoming institutional inertia related to safety, alternatives, reform worth the effort, and whether advocated really understand the situation; the lessons of the Maine reform campaign—bring all the pieces together, the importance of leadership, and the judicious and timely application of pressure; and conclusion.

Change Is Possible: A Case Study of Solitary Confinement Reform in Maine cover

“The Affordable Care Act (ACA) sets the stage for a new health-oriented policy framework to address substance use and mental health disorders. By dramatically expanding and funding healthcare coverage to millions of currently uninsured people, the ACA represents a remarkable opportunity for criminal justice and drug policy reform advocates to advance efforts for policies promoting safe and healthy communities, without excessive reliance on the criminal justice solutions that have become so prevalent under the War on Drugs. This paper is intended as a starting framework for criminal justice and drug policy advocates to navigate the ACA, and to take advantage of the conceptual and practical opportunities it offers for shifting the conversation and the landscape” (p. 2). This report is divided into two parts. Part One--Basics Of The Affordable Care Act For Advocates: Insurance; Medicaid Expansion--Healthcare Insurance for Poor and Low-Income; What is Covered? Essential Health Benefits; and Healthcare Access and Coordinated Care Models Under the ACA. Part Two--Putting the ACA to Work for Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform: Support Expansion of Medicaid and Other Forms of Healthcare Coverage; Increase Insurance Enrollment of People Currently in the Criminal Justice System; Maintain Active Medicaid Enrollment During Periods of Incarceration; Expand Use of Alternatives to Incarceration; Push for Use of Pre-Booking Diversion Programs (i.e. Front-End Diversion); Promote Changes in the Care Delivery System to Improve Outcomes for People Who Use Drugs; and Advocate for the Decriminalization of Drug Possession and Drug Paraphernalia. Also included is an executive summary.

Healthcare Not Handcuffs: Putting the Affordable Care Act to Work for Criminal Justice and Drug Policy Reform Cover

"This guide identifies laws, court decisions, advocacy tips, and other resources that may be helpful for adult transgender prisoners. Each transgender person’s experience in prison and jail is different, in part because the conditions vary a great deal from one prison to another and change over time. However, the safety and health of every transgender prisoner in the United States is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution no matter where the prisoner is held" (p. 2). Sections cover: the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA); safety and protection from violence; medical care; housing and administrative segregation; searches and privacy; safely preserving and enforcing your rights; and additional resources—legal and advocacy organizations, and links to useful documents.

Know Your Rights: Laws, Court Decisions, and Advocacy Tips to Protect Transgender Prisoners Cover

“A prison or jail sentence should never include sexual assault. On May 17, 2012, the Department of Justice released the final federal regulations implementing the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). These regulations apply to federal, state and local correctional facilities and lock-ups and include key protections for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) individuals. Despite— or likely because of—the decade-long process leading up to the passage of the final regulations, much confusion remains about how PREA’s protections can be leveraged to protect LGBTI individuals from sexual assault. This four-part toolkit is designed for advocates both in and outside of correctional settings to use PREA’s requirements to end the abuse of LGBTI individuals. As federal, state and local agencies reassess their policies and practices to come into compliance with PREA, there will be key opportunities to make important policy changes that will impact all individuals in confinement settings.” (p. ii). Part One “Advocacy Guide”—sections addressing documenting violations, policy and legislative change, and key LGBTI issues to monitor in custodial settings. Part Two “Overview”—sections covering what PREA is, whether LGBTI individuals are particularly vulnerable in prison, jail and juvenile detention, whether the PREA regulations include protections for LGBTI individuals, and how facilities should protect LGBTI individuals from abuse. Part Three “Know Your Rights” sections explaining what PREA is, PREA regulations apply to all the prisons and jails, how PREA protects LGBTI individuals, and what one can do if the facility holding them is not following PREA. Part Four “Regulations” containing the full text of key LGBTI provisions.

Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) Toolkit: End the Abuse - Protecting LGBTI Prisoners from Sexual Assault Cover

“More and more transgender parents are fighting to protect their relationships with their children in the face of custody challenges. Yet they face significant obstacles. Parents who have come out or transitioned after having a child with a spouse or partner have seen their gender transition raised as a basis to deny or restrict child custody or visitation. Transgender people who formed families after coming out or transitioning have faced challenges to their legal status as parents, often based on attacks on the validity of their marriages … The purpose of this guide is to provide information to transgender parents and their attorneys to help them protect parent-child relationships and assist them when faced with disputes over child custody issues” (p. 5). Sections of this report address: protecting against challenges to the parental fitness of transgender parents—overview of the case law, recommendations for parents prior to transitioning or coming out to their families, and advocacy suggestions for parents and their lawyers if faced with custody dispute; protecting against challenges to the legal parental status of transgender parents—the legal landscape, recommendations for parents to secure their status as legal parents, and advocacy suggestions for parents and their lawyers if faced with a challenge to legal parentage; and who to contact if facing a problem. Appendixes provide: an overview of case law regarding transgender parents; and sample expert testimony related to transgender issues.

Protecting the Rights of Transgender Parents and Their Children: A Guide for Parents and Lawyers Cover

"More than 200,000 women are locked in jails and prisons in the United States. These prisoners are routinely subjected to solitary confinement, spending at least 22 hours a day without human interaction for days, weeks, or months at a time. And yet, the solitary confinement of women is often overlooked. The negative psychological impacts of solitary confinement are well known. This briefing paper highlights the unique harms and dangers of subjecting women prisoners to this isolation and makes the case for needed reforms in to address these unique harms. As the number of incarcerated women climbs at an alarming pace, women and their families and communities are increasingly affected by what happens behind bars. It is critical to address the treatment of women in prison—especially those women subjected to the social and sensory deprivation of solitary confinement." Sections cover: women behind bars; what solitary confinement is; five problems for women in solitary confinement; transgender women in solitary; and recommendations to address these challenges.

Worse than Second-Class: Solitary Confinement of Women in the United States Cover
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