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Restrictive housing

Following over four years of successful trainings to prison professionals around the country, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) entered into a cooperative agreement with CJI to expand its Managing Prison Restrictive Housing Populations program and to create a Managing Jail Restrictive Housing Populations curriculum. This effort came in response to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) “Report and Recommendations Concerning the Use of Restrictive Housing” in 2016 that contained a set of guiding principles recommended to promote staff and inmate safety and security in prison and jail restrictive housing programs. 

In the summer of 2017, NIC/CJI developed the first-of-its-kind jail program, incorporating the DOJ guiding principles. The curriculum was piloted in Aurora, Colorado on September 11-14, 2017. Jail and mental health leaders from the following agencies were selected to participate in the pilot:

  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland
  • Lafayette Parish, Louisiana
  • Los Angeles County, California
  • Minnehaha County, South Dakota
  • New York City, New York
  • Santa Cruz County, California
  • Uintah County, Utah
  • Washtenaw County, Michigan

The training, facilitated by experienced correctional administrators and mental health professionals, enabled the participants to:

  • Examine restrictive housing practices within their own agencies, and compare those practices against DOJ Guiding Principles;
  • Participate in interactive skill-building activities and action planning to determine strategies for their agencies to safely reduce the use of restrictive housing; and
  • Share challenges, and promising practices and recommendations for the implementation of the Guiding Principles with peers from across the United States.

The second Managing Jail Restrictive Housing Populations took place at NIC’s Training Academy November 13-16. 

This "survey provides an overview of policies governing the solitary confinement of juveniles in 50 states and the District of Columbia. The survey allows the reader to understand each state’s approach to imposing this punishment or employing alternatives. This accompanying memo discusses the trends that emerge from the survey, caveats to keep in mind while reading the survey … The survey distinguishes between states that use confinement as a punishment for past actions and states that use confinement non-punitively, to reduce the threat from the juvenile’s behavior to himself, others, or the security of the facility" (p. 1, 2). Each state and the District of Columbia include a long summary which provides in-depth reporting of the state's solitary confinement practices for juveniles and the supporting validation; and a short summary which provides highlights and the source of the law (whether by consent decree, court decision/rule, policy, regulation, self-assessment, settlement agreement, statute, or policy). Attachments include: "Time Limits on Length of Punitive Isolation" bar chart showing the number of states that have no punitive confinement, eight or fewer hours, between 34 and 36 hours, three days, four days, five days, over five days, and no limit; chart showing jurisdictions not allowing punitive confinement for more than a few hours a day, states limiting the amount of time a juvenile may spend in confinement, and states placing no limit on the amount of time a juvenile may spend in confinement; and the map "Limiting Punitive Isolation: Reforming Practices in Juvenile Detention Facilities" showing those states that do not use isolation for over eight hours a day as punishment, and those states that do use isolation for over eight hours as punishment.

› 51-Jurisdiction Survey of Solitary Confinement Rules in Juvenile Justice Systems Cover

"Administrative segregation, the preferred term among correctional administrators, refers to both a classification and a type of unit. There are at least three distinct types of segregation: administrative segregation, disciplinary segregation, and protective … Any of these types of segregation might involve a regimen of solitary (or near solitary) confinement. Importantly, it is the increased use of solitary confinement, not segregation per se, that troubles those with concerns about contemporary correctional practice, and it is solitary confinement that has received the most attention in the research literature … Within the limited empirical knowledge base in this area, researchers have not always agreed on the areas of research that warrant review and evaluation, or they have been unable to draw conclusions from studies employing various methodologies. Further, for many researchers studying solitary confinement the practice raises not only empirical questions, but also moral and ethical concerns. In a literature base replete with highly charged emotions, interpreting the evidence base, and separating evidence from strongly held beliefs have become difficult. This paper attempts to describe the research in enough detail that the reader can reach his or her own conclusions around the current state of administrative segregation" (p. 1, Executive Summary). Sections comprising this report include: introduction; brief history of administrative segregation; contemporary use of administrative segregation; issues related to use of solitary confinement—juveniles, control of gangs, and mental illness; court decisions and consent decrees; the utility and effects of administrative segregation--violence; the psychological and behavioral effects of solitary confinement; the future of administrative segregation; and conclusion. Appendixes include: Table A1—Administrative Segregation in the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP); Table A2—Percentage of Custodial Population (Both Sexes) In Administrative Segregation (Ad Seg) and Restrictive Housing; and Table A3—Goals and Intended Impacts Associated with Supermax Prisons.

Administrative Segregation in U.S. Prisons [Executive Summary and Report] Cover

This report "provides the only current, comprehensive data on the use of restricted housing, in which individuals are held in their cells for 22 hours or more each day, and for 15 continuous days or more at a time. The Report also documents efforts across the country to reduce the number of people in restricted housing and to reform the conditions in which isolated prisoners are held in order to improve safety for prisoners, staff, and communities at large" (p. 1).

Cover image for Aiming to Reduce Time-In-Cell

This is an important video to see, especially following U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's remarks that the excessive use of solitary confinement for juveniles needs to stop. Various youth tell us their stories about how insolation has affected them. Spread throughout are observation from correctional personnel. This investigation "toggles between New York City and Santa Cruz, where young people tell their own stories of isolation and how the justice system can do better." The program begins with a look at Rikers Island, New York City's enormous jail complex. The program then concludes with a visit to the Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall, a national model that has "reduced the use of isolation so much that corrections officials around the country routinely traveled to California's Central Coast to see how they did it".

Alone: Teens in Solitary Confinement Cover

The segregated housing unit practices of the United States Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and compliance with them are reviewed. Sections comprising this report are: background to the investigation; Segregated Housing Unit population and number of cells have increased since Fiscal Year 2008; BOP’s monitoring of segregated housing policies varies by type of unit, and some facilities’ documentation is incomplete; BOP estimates that segregated housing costs more than housing inmates in the general population; BOP has not evaluated the impact of segregated housing units on institutional safety or the impacts of long-term segregation on inmates; concluding remarks; recommendations for Executive Action; and BOP comments and GAO evaluation. “GAO recommends that BOP (1) develop ADX-specific monitoring requirements; (2) develop a plan that clarifies how BOP will address documentation concerns GAO identified, through the new software program; (3) ensure that any current study to assess segregated housing also includes reviews of its impact on institutional safety; and (4) assess the impact of long-term segregation. BOP agreed with these recommendations and reported it would take actions to address them.”

Bureau of Prisons: Improvements Needed in Bureau of Prisons' Monitoring and Evaluation of Impact of Segregated Housing 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

A response to behavioral problems in many facilities has been reliance on isolation for acting out youths who are mentally challenged, chronically violent, or gang involved. Instead of being used as a last resort to protect youths from self-harm, hurting others or causing significant property damage that is terminated as soon as a youth regains control, isolation too often becomes the behavior management system by default. Research has made clear that isolating youths for long periods of time or as a consequence for negative behavior undermines the rehabilitative goals of youth corrections … CJCA presents this Toolkit to help its members and the field reduce the use of isolation and ultimately better help youths in juvenile facilities become successful members of the community (p. 5). Sections comprising this Toolkit are: introduction; overview of the issues of isolation and how it is defined; a summary of the research substantiating the negative impacts of isolation; how solitary confinement harms children; CJCA position in the use of isolation; five steps to reduce the use of isolation; conclusion and action steps for juvenile agency administrators; tips from agency directors that have reduced the use of isolation; examples from states that have reduced the use of isolation—Massachusetts, Maine, Indiana, and Alaska; and a statement from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) regarding solitary confinement.

Council of Juvenile Cover

Following over four years of successful trainings to prison professionals around the country, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) entered into a cooperative agreement with CJI to expand its Managing Prison Restrictive Housing Populations program and to create a Managing Jail Restrictive Housing Populations curriculum. This effort came in response to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) “Report and Recommendations Concerning the Use of Restrictive Housing” in 2016 that contained a set of guiding principles recommended to promote staff and inmate safety and security in prison and jail restrictive housing programs. 

In the summer of 2017, NIC/CJI developed the first-of-its-kind jail program, incorporating the DOJ guiding principles. The curriculum was piloted in Aurora, Colorado on September 11-14, 2017. Jail and mental health leaders from the following agencies were selected to participate in the pilot:

  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland
  • Lafayette Parish, Louisiana
  • Los Angeles County, California
  • Minnehaha County, South Dakota
  • New York City, New York
  • Santa Cruz County, California
  • Uintah County, Utah
  • Washtenaw County, Michigan

The training, facilitated by experienced correctional administrators and mental health professionals, enabled the participants to:

  • Examine restrictive housing practices within their own agencies, and compare those practices against DOJ Guiding Principles;
  • Participate in interactive skill-building activities and action planning to determine strategies for their agencies to safely reduce the use of restrictive housing; and
  • Share challenges, and promising practices and recommendations for the implementation of the Guiding Principles with peers from across the United States.

The second Managing Jail Restrictive Housing Populations took place at NIC’s Training Academy November 13-16. 

"Segregation has been and will continue to be a tool that is necessary to manage legitimate safety concerns. Reforms in the use of this practice will only be successful if the safety of inmates and staff is maintained or improved in the process. To impact the health and well-being of people under correctional control, reducing the use of segregation on its own by only “emptying beds” is of limited value. To make an impactful change, a systems approach to this complex issue is essential. This policy brief shares lessons from the systems approach to reform undertaken by the Washington Department of Corrections (WADOC) that began more than a decade ago and continues to the present day" (p. 3-4).

Cover for More than Emptying Bets

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