Across the country, states are waking up to the fact that we must address our overreliance on solitary confinement. Long-term isolation costs too much, does nothing to rehabilitate prisoners, and exacerbates mental illness - or even causes it in prisoners who were healthy when they entered solitary. Officials in some states that formerly relied heavily on solitary confinement are now realizing that they should use public resources on proven policies that promote safe communities and fair treatment, and are successfully reducing the use of solitary - at the same time saving their states millions and reducing violence in the prisons. It's time for more states, and the federal Bureau of Prisons, to follow suit.
Over the last two decades corrections systems have increasingly relied on solitary confinement as a prison management tool – even building entire institutions called “supermax prisons” where prisoners are held in conditions of extreme isolation, sometimes for years or decades. But solitary confinement jeopardizes our public safety, is fundamentally inhumane and wastes taxpayer dollars. We must insist on humane and more cost-effective methods of punishment and prison management.