Thursday, May 23, 2013

Prison Officials Rethink Solitary Confinement

A growing number of prison professionals around the country are having a dimming view of the effectiveness and expense of solitary confinement, as well as the realization of its mental and physical toll on inmates, reported CBS News.

"Ninety-five percent of them are going to be released and live in your and my neighborhood," Mississippi Prison Commissioner Christopher Epps said. "We're in the business of corrections. We're in the business or rehabilitation."

Evidence that solitary confinement controls violence or curbs misbehavior has been scarce, while solitary confinement makes matters even worse for the increased number of people with mental illnesses who are incarcerated.

Mentally ill crowd America's jails.

In the old days, anytime an inmate misbehaved, Epps said, prison officials didn't take any chances and placed him in a single cell away from the general population. An inmate would then have to prove his good behavior for a very long time to be transferred back.

The reasons for being sent to solitary were varied and subjective -- from refusing work assignments on Parchman's sprawling 1,800 acres of farm land, to fighting with other inmates. Six-month or year-long stints in solitary were not unusual. Epps knew one inmate who was held in solitary for five years.

"They change physically," Epps said. He saw one inmate's hair go completely gray in six months. "It is my belief it affected them mentally."

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Unknown said...

If "[w]e're in the business of corrections[,] [w]e're in the business of rehabilitation[,]" do you think it would be better served by less free time for the inmates. Less time sitting around playing cards or watching TV and more mandatory classes that will help with their rehabilitation and reintegration into society?

Law and Justice Policy said...

The principles of risk, need, and responsivity have been empirically linked to the effectiveness of treatment to reduce reoffending-dosage or the about of treatment has to be carefully followed to yield the best result--too much treatment may not be effective.

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