Ending Mass IncarcerationBringing Dignity to Life Behind Bars

Solitary Confinement

Solitary confinement—also known as segregation, isolation and restrictive housing—is a growing safety and human rights concern across the country. Originally implemented to deal with people committing violence within prisons, segregation is now relied on heavily to manage challenging populations, house vulnerable people, and punish people for all levels of infractions, from serious to minor and nonviolent.

Vera has been working since 2005 to end its widespread use. The collective effort, involving many organizations, is making a difference. Today there’s a chorus of opposition that stretches far beyond advocates. And a growing number of corrections leaders are moving away from the use of total isolation in favor of more humane and effective strategies to achieve safe facilities for staff and the people incarcerated.

Related Work

Rethinking Restrictive Housing

Lessons from Five U.S. Jail and Prison Systems

In recent years, the practice of restrictive housing (otherwise known as solitary confinement or segregation) in U.S. prisons and jails has been the subject of increased scrutiny from researchers, advocates, policymakers, media, and the government agencies responsible for people who are incarcerated. Originally intended to manage people who committ...

Publication
  • Sara Sullivan, Léon Digard, Elena Vanko
May 01, 2018
Publication

A Question of Compassion

Medical Parole in New York State

Compassionate release laws enable incarcerated people who are elderly, seriously ill, incapacitated—or some combination thereof—to obtain parole in order to receive treatment in a community setting and in the company of loved ones. In recent years, the number of older adults in U.S. prisons has soared, even as the overall prison population has decl...

Publication
  • Rebecca Silber, Léon Digard, Jessi LaChance
April 27, 2018
Publication

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

Non-traditional Allies Reforming Restrictive Housing in Utah

“We sincerely thank Rollin Cook for five years of dynamic, forward-thinking leadership at the UDC. Rollin presided over an unprecedented period of transparency, cooperation, and productive engagement, and is leaving Utah's prison system in a vastly better state than he found it. As we look forward to continuing our partnership with UDC, we are hope...

Blog Post
  • Byron Kline
    Byron Kline
  • Rollin  Cook
    Rollin Cook
April 26, 2018
Blog Post

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

Momentum Builds in 2017 to Reduce the Use of Solitary Confinement

The path continued when Vera launched its Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative, generously funded by the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, in 2015. Numerous states and counties applied to partner with us and examine their practices with an aim to reform. Details of what we learned is outlined in the five...

Blog Post
  • Sara Sullivan
    Sara Sullivan
  • Mary Crowley
    Mary Crowley
December 20, 2017
Blog Post
Photo Credit: CBS / 60 Minutes

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

Oprah Spotlights Solitary Confinement as Movement to Rethink its Use Picks Up Steam

Two members of the SAS Initiative Advisory Council, Dr. Craig Haney and Danny Murillo, are prominently featured in Winfrey’s report. Both Murillo and Haney speak to the trauma of long-term restrictive housing, and both also have intimate knowledge of the impacts of solitary confinement at Pelican Bay—Dr. Haney as a social psychologist, and Danny Mu...

Blog Post
  • Matthew Lowen
    Matthew Lowen
October 23, 2017
Blog Post

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

Mental Health Units as Alternatives to Segregation

It Can Be Done

The definition in Massachusetts also includes several other disorders: those commonly characterized by breaks with reality or perceptions of reality; developmental disability, dementia, or other cognitive disorders; or personality disorders manifested by episodes of psychosis or depression, when those disorders lead to significant functional impair...

Blog Post
  • Joel  Andrade, PhD, LICSW, CCHP
    Joel Andrade, PhD, LICSW, CCHP
June 22, 2017
Blog Post