The Problem

·      Isolated confinement, also referred to as “solitary,”[i] involves locking prisoners in small, concrete cells – typically 7 by 12 feet – for up to 23 hours per day. Although designed for short-term use, in practice it is not uncommon for prisoners to spend years, and in some cases, decades in isolation.[ii]

·      Prisoners have little human interaction and typically receive no rehabilitative services.[iii] Days are punctuated by receiving meals through a steel trap in the door, periodic counts by corrections officers, and short trips, in four-point shackles, to the shower or to an outdoor cage.

·      Research shows that isolated confinement can cause devastating, sometimes irreparable trauma, especially for juveniles and people who are disabled or mentally ill.[iv]

·      Isolated confinement does not make communities safer. It inflicts trauma on both prisoners and staff and harms the progress of those re-entering society after their incarceration. There is no evidence to support the proposition that solitary increases public and prison safety.[v]

·      Housing a prisoner in isolated confinement in costs about twice as much as housing a prisoner in general population.[vi]  It also raises serious constitutional concerns and triggers expensive litigation.[vii]

[i] Solitary confinement has many names, including “segregated housing,” “administrative segregation,” and “restrictive housing.”

[ii] Association of State Correctional Administrators & Arthur Liman Public Interest Program, Time-In-Cell: The ASCA-Liman 2014 National Survey of Administrative Segregation in Prison (2015).

[iii] Natasha A. Frost & Carlos E. Monteiro, National Institute of Justice, Administrative Segregation in U.S. Prisons, at 4 (2016).

[iv] Id. at 16; American Psychiatric Association, Position Statement on Segregation of Prisoners with Mental Illness (December 2012).

[v] NIJ Study at 16-19; David Lovell et al., Recidivism of Supermax Prisoners in Washington State, 53 Crime & Delinquency 633-656 (2007); David Mears, An Assessment of Supermax Prisons Using an Evaluation Research Framework, 88 The Prison J. 43-68 (2008).

[vi] In 2009, those figures were $172 per prisoner per day for Northern — nearly twice the average daily expenditure per prisoner (about $92) for CDOC as a whole. American Correctional Association, Directory of Adult and Juvenile Correctional Departments, Institutions, Agencies, and Probation and Parole Authorities (2009).

[vii] Davis v. Ayala, 135 S.Ct. 2187 (2015) (Kennedy, J., concurring) (writing that solitary confinement brings prisoners to “[t]he edge of madness, perhaps . . . madness itself.”). See, e.g., Parsons v. Ryan, CV12-0601-PHX-NVW (D. Ariz.); Disability Law Center v. Massachusetts Department of Correction, 1:07-cv-10463-MLW, 2012 WL 1237760 (D.Mass. April 12, 2012); Disability Rights Network of Pennsylvania v. Wetzel, 1:13-cv-00635-JEJ (M.D. Pa.).