Think Justice Blog

Addressing the Overuse of Segregation in U.S. Prisons and Jails

There is increasing evidence that the use of segregation in prisons and jails—sometimes referred to as solitary confinement or restricted housing—produces unwanted and harmful outcomes for the mental and physical health of those in isolation, the well-being of staff, facility safety, corrections budgets of jurisdictions that rely on the practice, and the public safety of the communities to which most will return. Through this blog series Addressing the Overuse of Segregation in U.S. Prisons and Jails,bloggers of various perspectives—from corrections officials and academic experts to advocates and formerly incarcerated people—will examine the issues presented by the use of segregated housing and discuss promising strategies for reform. Many of the bloggers are staff from Vera’s Segregation Reduction Project and members of Vera’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Advisory Council.

For more information and resources, visit the Safe Alternatives to Segregation Resource Center.

All Posts

  • Lionel  Smith
    Lionel Smith
January 26, 2017

Series: Addressing the Overuse of Segregation in U.S. Prisons and Jails

Why We’re Studying the Causes and Consequences of Solitary Confinement

Every day, tens of thousands of incarcerated people are held in restrictive housing (commonly known as “solitary confinement” or “segregation”) in America’s prisons and jails.  Confined to a cell no larger than a parking space for at least 23 hours a day, isol...

  • Danny Murillo
    Danny Murillo
August 01, 2016

Series: Addressing the Overuse of Segregation in U.S. Prisons and Jails

Gardner Fellow Danny Murillo on life after solitary

Regardless of how much time and space I put in between myself and the Security Housing Unit (SHU) in Pelican Bay State Prison, the effects of isolation will always linger. My spirit resists, resiliently, the social pathologies known to “develop in prisoners wh...

  • Dan  Pacholke
    Dan Pacholke
July 27, 2016

Series: Addressing the Overuse of Segregation in U.S. Prisons and Jails

Change is relative to where you begin

For correctional systems, governments, and advocates seeking to reform the use of segregation, the goal should be more than emptying beds. Success should be measured by impacts in engagement, interactions, and safe environments—not just bed use—to reduce use o...

  • Martin Horn
February 24, 2016

Series: Addressing the Overuse of Segregation in U.S. Prisons and Jails

Achieving consensus on reform of solitary confinement

Last fall, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, with support from the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation, convened a colloquium including 15 corrections agency heads and a like number of experts from the community of those seeking to reform the use of...

  • Jessa Wilcox
    Jessa Wilcox
February 01, 2016

Series: Addressing the Overuse of Segregation in U.S. Prisons and Jails

Federal reforms to solitary confinement build on progress in states, and provide opportunities for continued reforms

Over the past few years, there has been a groundswell of support for reforming the use of solitary confinement—also known as segregation or restrictive housing—in prisons and jails. Last week, the U.S. Department of Justice pushed the movement for reform forwa...

  • David Cloud
    David Cloud
December 16, 2015

Series: Addressing the Overuse of Segregation in U.S. Prisons and Jails

How the movement to end solitary confinement may shed light on how to address mass incarceration

In the United States, there are between 80,000 and 100,000 people confined to prison cells the size of parking spots and exposed to extreme conditions of social isolation, sensory deprivation, and idleness for days, months, years, and even decades at a time—a ...

  • Sara Sullivan
    Sara Sullivan
  • Elena  Vanko
    Elena Vanko
December 02, 2015

Series: Addressing the Overuse of Segregation in U.S. Prisons and Jails

New blog series addressing the overuse of segregation in U.S. prisons and jails

 Segregation, also referred to as solitary confinement or restricted housing, is a practice widely used in U.S. prisons and jails. The number of people held in segregated housing is estimated to be as high as 80,000 to 100,000.  There is increasin...