In the News: Solitary Confinement

Prompted by recent federal lawsuits, New York State has recently agreed to significant changes in its use of solitary confinement in state prisons, including guidelines for the maximum length an inmate may be placed in solitary confinement, and ending or limiting the use of solitary confinement for vulnerable populations such as juveniles, the developmentally disabled, and pregnant women. Pressure for reform came from several federal lawsuits.

According to the New York Times Editorial of February 20, 2014, “New York Rethinks Solitary Confinement,:

“The New York State prison system has for years been among the nation’s worst when it comes to the overuse of solitary confinement. At any given time about 3,800 inmates across the state are held in windowless isolation for 23 hours a day, the vast majority for disciplinary infractions. The average length of a stay in solitary is five months, and from 2007 to 2011, nearly 2,800 people were in solitary for a year or more”

New York is not alone. The over-use and over-reliance on solitary confinement is a problem across the country. Currently, several other states including California and Colorado are also considering reforming their solitary confinement policies.

Read/listen/watch more about these recent reforms and also the continued efforts to curb and eliminate the use of solitary confinement.

Questioning Solitary Confinement for Adolescents at Rikers Island. PBS NewsHour. (February 21, 2014 at 6:24 PM EST)

N.Y. Becomes Largest Prison System to Curb Solitary Confinement. Brian Mann. Weekend Edition Sunday. (February 23, 2014 9:49 AM)

Solitary Confinement: Punishment or Cruelty? NPR Staff. All Things Considered. (March 10, 2013 5:00 PM)

Life in Solitary Confinement. NPR Special Series.



About the Author