Back to top

Administrative segregation

"Segregated housing, commonly known as solitary confinement, is increasingly being recognized in the United States as a human rights issue. While the precise number of people held in segregated housing on any given day is not known with any certainty, estimates run to more than 80,000 in state and federal prisons—which is surely an undercount as these do not include people held in solitary confinement in jails, military facilities, immigration detention centers, or juvenile justice facilities. Evidence mounts that the practice 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 it for facility safety. Yet solitary confinement remains a mainstay of prison management and control in the U.S. largely because many policymakers, corrections officials, and members of the general public still subscribe to some or all of the common misconceptions and misguided justifications addressed in this report." The most common misconceptions are corrected while describing some of the promising alternatives that reduce the use of solitary confinement. The ten misconceptions are: conditions in segregated housing are stark but not inhumane; segregated housing is reserved only for the most violent; segregated housing is used only as a last resort; segregated housing is used only for brief periods of time; the harmful effects of segregated housing are overstated and not well understood; segregated housing helps keep prisons and jails safer; segregated housing deters misbehavior and violence; segregated housing is the only way to protect the vulnerable; safe alternatives to segregated housing are expensive; and incarcerated people are rarely released directly to the community from segregated housing. Also included is a copy of the Washington State Department of Corrections "Prison Sanctioning Guidelines: Violation Categories and Range of Sanction Options" (current as of 5/7/15). The grid shows general and serious violation sanction options for the first offense, second offense, third offense, and the maximum ranges of sanction.

Solitary Confinement Cover

A monograph "intended to help prisons operate ultra-high-security facilities in a way that minimizes liability in litigation" is presented (p. v). Section contained in this manual include: executive summary; introduction; supermax and case law background; mental health; medical services; other conditions of confinement; use of force; the 14th Amendment due process and placement; access to the courts; the First Amendment religion, speech, and the press; and closing thoughts.

Supermax Prisons and the Constitution: Liability Concerns in the Extended Control Unit Cover

Wondering what is costs to house an inmate in solitary confinement? Then you want to read this article. Topics discussed include: costs in California at the Pelican Bay State Prison for the Security Housing Unit (SHU) and Administrative Segregation Unit (ASU); costs at Illinois’ Tamms Correctional Center; cost for Colorado; costs in Ohio, Texas, and Maryland; costs for the Federal Bureau of Prisons; construction costs; and reforms that lead to cost savings.

The High Cost of Solitary Confinement Cover

"By facilitating cross-jurisdictional comparisons of the rules and practices that surround administrative segregation, this Report both reflects and supports ongoing efforts to understand its impact, reevaluate its use, and limit or end extended isolation … Calls for significant reductions in the use of isolation come from all quarters and, importantly, from the chief operating officers of prison systems. But without a baseline, it is not possible to know the impact of the many efforts underway to reduce or eliminate the isolation of prisoners and to enable prisoners and staff to live and work in safe environments, respectful of human dignity. Time-in-Cell provides one measure, to use as a baseline to assess whether the changes hoped for are taking place, such that the number of persons held in such settings and the degrees of their isolation are substantially diminishing" (p. iii). This report is divided into eight sections: the parameters and concerns about administrative segregation; the 2014 Limon-ASCA Survey; the use of administrative segregation; the demographics of administrative segregation—2011, 2014; living in administrative segregation—degrees of isolation; the administration of ad seg; reconsidering administrative segregation; and revising the use of administrative segregation—lessening the numbers in and the degrees of isolation.

Time-In-Cell Cover

There is no doubt that "there are occasions when correctional officials have no choice but to segregate inmates from the general population, typically when it is the only way to ensure the safety of inmates, staff, and the public and the orderly operation of the facility. But as a matter of policy, we believe strongly this practice should be used rarely, applied fairly, and subjected to reasonable constraints. The Department believes that best practices include housing inmates in the least restrictive settings necessary to ensure their own safety, as well as the safety of staff, other inmates, and the public; and ensuring that restrictions on an inmate’s housing serve a specific penological purpose and are imposed for no longer than necessary to achieve that purpose. When officials determine that an inmate must be segregated from the general population, that inmate should be housed in safe, humane conditions that, ideally, prepare the individual for reintegration into both the general prison population and society at large. The stakes are high. Life in restrictive housing has been well-documented—by inmates, advocates and, on occasion, correctional officials themselves. In some systems, the conditions can be severe; the social isolation, extreme. At its worst, and when applied without regard to basic standards of decency, restrictive housing can cause serious, long-lasting harm. It is the responsibility of all governments to ensure that this practice is used only as necessary—and never as a default solution. But just as we must consider the impact on inmates, so too must we consider the impact on correctional staff. These public servants work hard, often for long hours and under difficult conditions, and we must protect them from unreasonable danger. Correctional officers need effective tools to manage the most challenging inmates and protect the most vulnerable. We do not believe that the humane treatment of inmates and the safety of correctional staff are mutually exclusive; indeed, neither is possible without the other. In recent years, numerous correctional systems have succeeded in safely reducing the number of inmates in restrictive housing, including the Federal Bureau of Prisons. Over the past four years, the total number of inmates in the Bureau’s restrictive housing units has declined by nearly a quarter. Under the leadership of its outgoing Director, Charles E. Samuels, Jr., the Bureau has also developed a range of progressive alternatives to restrictive housing—and has done so while supporting and enhancing staff safety. This Report includes a number of additional policy proposals that would help continue the downward trends in the Bureau’s restrictive housing population, while also ensuring that those placed in segregation receive the support and rehabilitative services they need" (p. 1-2). This report is divided into three parts. Part One—Restrictive Housing in the Federal Bureau of Prisons: overview of restrictive housing in the United States; Special Housing Units (SHU); Special Management Units (SMU); USP Administrative Maximum (ADX); Bureau Inmates Requiring Special Considerations; Inmates with Serious Mental Illness (SMI); Inmates with Medical Needs; Young Adults (Age 18-24 at Time of Conviction); Juveniles (Under 18 at Time of Adjudication); and Audits of the Bureau's Restrictive Housing Programs ()CAN Audit, GAO Audit, and BOP Internal Audits). Part Two—Restrictive Housing in Other Correctional and Detention Systems: United States Marshals Service (USMS); Restrictive Housing in the States; Federal Support for State and Local Efforts; Federal Civil Rights Enforcement; and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Part Three—Guiding Principles and Policy Recommendations: Guiding Principles; Policy Recommendations for the Bureau of Prisons, National Institute of Corrections (NIC), and the U.S. Office of Justice Programs (OJP)—Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ); and Additional Policy Recommendation for Diverting Inmates with Serious Mental Illness from Incarceration. Documents making up the appendix are organized into Federal Bureau of Prison's Program Statements, Institution Supplements, audits and reports, and other documents.

U.S. Department of Justice Report and Recommendations Concerning the Use of Restrictive Housing Cover

This Special Report presents "data on the use of restrictive housing in U.S. prisons and jails, based on inmate self-reports of time spent in disciplinary or administrative segregation or solitary confinement. The report provides the percentage of prison and jail inmates who were currently held in restrictive housing, those who had spent any time in restrictive housing in the last 12 months or since coming to the facility if shorter, and the total time spent in restrictive housing. It provides prevalence rates for inmates by selected demographic characteristics, criminal justice status and history, current and past mental health status, and indicators of misconduct while in the facility. It also describes the relationship between the use of restrictive housing and facility-level characteristics, including measures of facility disorder and facility composition. Data are from the National Inmate Survey (NIS), 2011–12, conducted in 233 state and federal prisons and 358 local jails, with a sample of 91,177 inmates nationwide. Highlights: Younger inmates, inmates without a high school diploma, and lesbian, gay, and bisexual inmates were more likely to have spent time in restrictive housing than older inmates, inmates with a high school diploma or more, and heterosexual inmates; Inmates held for a violent offense other than a sex offense and inmates with extensive arrest histories or prior incarcerations were more likely to have spent time in restrictive housing than inmates held for other offenses and inmates with no prior arrests or incarcerations; Use of restrictive housing was linked to inmate mental health problems: 29% of prison inmates and 22% of jail inmates with current symptoms of serious psychological distress had spent time in restrictive housing in the past 12 months; More than three-quarters of inmates in prisons and jails who had been written up for assaulting other inmates or facility staff had spent time in restrictive housing in the past 12 months; [and] Among inmates who had spent 30 or more days in restrictive housing in the last 12 months or since coming to the facility, 54% of those in prison and 68% of those in jail had been in a fight or had been written up for assaulting other inmates or staff."

Use of Restrictive Housing in U.S. Prisons and Jails, 2011-12 Cover

Pages

Subscribe to Administrative segregation