ASCA: Over 80,000 US prisoners in solitary confinement

ASCA: Over 80,000 US prisoners in solitary confinement

[JURIST] The Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) [official website], in partnership with the Arthur Liman Public Interest Program at Yale Law School [website] released [press release] a report [PDF] Wednesday estimating that between 80,000 to 100,000 prisoners were in what correctional officials call “restrictive housing” in 2014. The survey defined solitary confinement as holding an inmate separate from the general population for 22-23 hours a day for 30 days or more. The groups emphasized the continued need for prison officials to set time limits on the amount of time a prisoner can be held in solitary confinement and creating a more formal policy of sentencing an inmate to solitary confinement.

The legality of solitary confinement has been an ongoing debate in the US, with many calling for comprehensive prison reform [JURIST podcast]. Also in September California agreed [JURIST report] to restrict use of solitary confinement based on a class action lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights. In March the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] that Virginia could continue to automatically house death row inmates in solitary confinement. In June of last year Colorado enacted a law [JURIST report] changing its traditional methods of solitary confinement by mandating psychiatric evaluations and therapy for inmates diagnosed with mental illness and qualifying for disciplinary intervention.