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July 3, 2013

"Administrative Segregation, Degrees of Isolation, and Incarceration: A National Overview of State and Federal Correctional Policies"

The title of this post is the title of this important new report emerging from a group of researchers working at Yale Law School.  The report provides a soberly fitting and depressing way to launching into a holiday weekend celebration American freedoms.  Here is the abstract:

This report provides an overview of state and federal policies related to long-term isolation of inmates, a practice common in the United States and one that has drawn attention in recent years from many sectors. All jurisdictions in the United States provide for some form of separation of inmates from the general population. Prison administrators see the ability to separate inmates as central to protecting the safety of both inmates and staff. Yet many correctional systems are reviewing their use of segregated confinement; as controversy surrounds this form of control, its duration, and its effects.

The debates about these practices are reflected in the terms used, with different audiences taking exceptions to each. Much of the recent public discussion calls the practice “solitary confinement” or “isolation.” In contrast, correctional facility policies use terms such as “segregation,” “restricted housing,” or “special management,” and some corrections leaders prefer the term “separation.”

All agree that the practice entails separating inmates from the general population and restricting their participation in everyday activities; such as recreation, shared meals, and religious, educational, and other programs. The degree of contact permitted — with staff, other inmates, or volunteers — varies. Some jurisdictions provide single cells and others double; in some settings, inmates find ways to communicate with each other. The length of time spent in isolation can vary from a few days to many years.

This report provides a window into these practices. This overview describes rules promulgated by prison officials to structure decisions on the placement of persons in “administrative segregation,” which is one form of separation of inmates from the general population. Working with the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), the Arthur Liman Program at Yale Law School launched an effort to review the written policies related to administrative segregation promulgated by correctional systems in the United States. With ASCA’s assistance, we obtained policies from 47 jurisdictions, including 46 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

This overview provides a national portrait of policies governing administrative segregation for individuals in prisons, outlines the commonalities and variations among jurisdictions, facilitates comparisons across jurisdictions, and enables consideration of how and when administrative segregation is and should be used. Because this review is of written policies, it raises many questions for research – about whether the policies are implemented as written, achieve the goals for which they are crafted, and at what costs. Information is needed on the demographic data on the populations held in various forms of segregated custody, the reasons for placement of individuals in and the duration of such confinement, the views of inmates, of staff on site, and of central office personnel; and the long-term effects of administrative segregation on prison management and on individuals. Without such insights, one cannot assess the experiences of segregation from the perspectives of those who run, those who work in, and those who live in these institutions.

July 3, 2013 at 01:44 PM | Permalink


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Please think twice before you embed another automatically playing video in a blog post. Especially if you're not going keep so many posts on the homepage that it stays up for weeks, buried at the bottom of the page.

Posted by: Jay | Jul 3, 2013 10:54:39 PM

My birthday is today the 4th and I have to register within 3 day. Some may think that calls for some terrorism instead of liberty. No, keep it proportionate. A bad civil law requires bad civil disobedience.

Posted by: b-day | Jul 4, 2013 3:53:32 AM

Hey Dab -

Your last post [Administrative Segregation, Degrees of Isolation, and Incarceration: A National Overview of State and Federal Correctional Policies] was freaking awesome. I have gone ahead and added your stuff to my Feedly account. Please keep me updated if you post anywhere else.

Keep rocking –


Posted by: Jonathan Weavers | Jul 4, 2013 5:09:35 AM

Straight corporal punishment should return to control the inmates better. For example, the lash and electric prod.

After 3 violent crimes inside prison, the prisoner should be summarily executed by any method, such as shooting in the head.

Anyone opposed to corporal punishment is an anti-victim, pro-criminal advocate because their forbearance is allowing corporal punishment for victims, including forcible rape.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 5, 2013 8:22:20 AM

Because the Supreme Court is clearly on the side of the criminal, and the enemy of the crime victim, victim groups should target the Court with impeachment procedures for their substantive decisions and not for any collateral corruption. Congressional collaborators should be labelled as traitors and targeted to lose election.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jul 5, 2013 8:25:33 AM

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