Module 4: Discussion – Student Videos 4.1 Policy to End Solitary Confinement 77

by | Mar 26, 2022 | Social Work

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Module 4: Discussion – Student Videos 4.1 Policy to End Solitary Confinement
77 unread replies.77 replies.
POLICY TO END SOLITARY CONFINEMENT
Below is a written summary and video for your review and initial posting of your thoughts on the policy. You must reply to 2 classmates by due date to enhance the discussion.
PROFESSIONAL JOURNAL ARTICLE 1
1& 2. Jessica Lee, Lonely Too Long: Redefining and Reforming Juvenile Solitary Confinement, 85
Fordham Law Review. Rev.845 (2016).
This article was written by Jessica Lee from the Fordham University School of Law and it was
published in the Fordham Law Review.
3.This article states the damaging effects of juvenile solitary confinement and the urgent need
to reform it.
4.This article covers several topics and points of view/values:
● The history of solitary confinement and its structure: solitary confinement also called
“restrictive housing”, “local control”, “disciplinary control”, “protective custody” or
“administrative segregation” was born in the 1800s and based on the Quacker ideology.
The first maximum security prison, Eastern State Penitentiary was opened in 1829.
Solitary confinement back then meant being in total isolation with the Bible to read and
to reflect on their crimes. Repentance was the goal.
● The definition of solitary confinement: being in a solitary confinement means being
isolated for up to 23 hours a day with absolutely no human contacts. Inmates are kept
in very small cells, with no window and a steel door. No electronics, no educational
activities, no physical activities, no radio, no television are allowed. Personal items are
very limited. They can only go out 2-5 times a week to shower. It is very common in
“supermax” facilities to protect the general population and the guards from dangerous
inmates.
● The rising of solitary confinement: the 50 states do practice solitary confinement with all
the populations (minor to adults) and it is commonly used to punish as a result of a
minor violation like making too much noise or talking back to the prison officer.
● Juvenile solitary confinement and its effects: Minors are usually placed in solitary
confinement for disciplinary segregation as a punishment or administrative segregation
because they are a danger to the general population or as a medical segregation
because they require protection or medical treatment. This type of confinement has
devastating effect especially on young prisoners because their brain is still developing
until they are 20 years old. This leads to impulsive behavior. They suffer psychological
and mental damages (i.e suicide, depression and anxiety), social and developmental
damages because they are not allowed to see their family, get letters or call them. They
have no affection such as kisses or hugs from their loved ones. They also suffer
academically because they can’t attend classes or any type of rehabilitation activities.
They also suffer from malnutrition.
● Solitary confinement reforms: scholarly proposal reforms, legislative reforms and
federal legislation and state and local legislation. Reforms must be done to stop this
pandemic and “cruel treatment” that goes against our fundamental rights per the eighth
amendment that states that “no cruel and unusual punishment should be inflicted”.
Several reforms were attempted:
a. Scientific and scholars asked for the US Supreme Court to intervene to make this kind
of treatment “unconstitutional” and eradicate it for the entire juvenile population and
extend it to the general population. It was based on devastating on psychological
reports. They fought to reduce the maximum amount of time prisoners can be in
solitary confinement and to regulate the type of infractions that would lead to solitary
confinement. The University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform proposed a 4-step
process to reform solitary confinement.
b. Legislative reforms were attempted without success like the Solitary Confinement
Study and Reform Act of 2014 to have a nationwide study on the psychological and
financial impacts of solitary confinement. In 2015, Senator Booker initiated the Mercy
Act bill to forbid solitary confinement of inmates under 18 years old except for 3 hours if
the inmate is a danger to others. The bill also limits “restrictive measures to control
behavior.” The state of New York banned solitary confinement for all prisoners under 21
years old and provided them with counseling instead and will have access to books and
they will also have more “recreation time”, two hours a day, 3 days a week instead of
one hour a day. The state of California also reformed its solitary confinement by ending
it for all the gang members and by putting them in special treatment units instead.
c. Congress reform: Since harsh punishment like solitary confinement is most damaging
to young inmates, the reforms need to begin with this group. There is an urgent need
for a nationwide reform as opposed to state by state cases. State laws act like a band
aid, it does not solve the problem. These juvenile inmates must be protected and the
reform needs to start with the Supreme Court to make it “uniform” with local
legislators. President Obama issued an executive order to ban solitary confinement for
young inmates “as a response to low-level infractions” but it is not enough. It needs to
be uniformized at the Congress level. A nationwide “uniform and standard” law to ban
cruel and dangerous punishment should be adopted. The argument could be based on
the devasting effects that it has on juvenile inmates like the medical community proved
and the financial savings state could benefit from it.
5. The larger issue that this article addresses are not only the damaging effects that
solitary confinement has on juvenile inmates but on the general population. It also
addresses that solitary confinement does not resolve anything; it makes it worse.
Counseling, special unit treatment and targeted rehabilitation is what these inmates
need. Being confined in a box with zero contacts, very limited recreation time, no access
to books or education does not make prisons safer.
6. I was shocked by the solitary confinement conditions. I had no idea inmates were
locked up for up to 23 hours a day and I did not know that juvenile inmates were
subjected to it as well. I was also very surprised by the type of infractions that lead to
solitary confinement: talking back, making too much noise or having drugs. Human
beings need contacts and interactions. We cannot function without it. This treatment is
inhuman. I am surprised by the lack of reforms nationwide. It seems like each state tries
to “reform” this policy and it does not fix the problem. I agree that we need a
nationwide reform to stop this mental and physical abuse that take place in our prisons
every day. Congress must act.
7. I just used this article to discuss this topic
PROFESSIONAL JOURNAL ARTICLE 2
1&2. Jeffrey L. Metzner, Jamie Fellner, Solitary Confinement and Mental Illness in U.S. Prisons:
A Challenge for Medical Ethics, Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.
38:104-8 (2010)
This article was written by Jeffrey L. Metzner, MD, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, University of
Colorado School of Medicine, and Jamie Fellner, Senior Counsel, U.S. Program, Human Rights
Watch and it was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law.
3. The article states that solitary confinement should not be used to punish mentally ill inmates.
It worsens their condition and it creates an ethical challenge for doctors.
4. This article covers several points of view/values:
Type of confinement: Called “segregation by prison officials” to justify confining inmates with
mental issues.
Increased solitary confinement of the mentally ill: The numbers are getting bigger and bigger
according to this article. 8-19% of inmates who are solitary confined have some sort of
psychiatric disorder and 15-20% need psychiatric treatment. 15% of inmates have a diagnosed
mental illness.
Inmates with pre-existing metal illness: Solitary confinement has been used more and more in
prison to control difficult and dangerous inmates. Some of them who already had a mental
illness were locked up in solitary confinement for months to years and their conditions got
worse.
Limited mental services: These inmates were not assisted by doctors and their condition
worsened. They had access to very limited medical services. According to the NCCHC (National
Commission on Correctional Health Care) and the APA (American Psychiatric Association),
inmates with mental illness do not need the right treatment and the staff is not properly
trained. There are also limited program and special unit facilities for these inmates.
Damaging psychological effects: Locking up an inmate in a cage who already has mental illness
or not up to 23 hours a day has devasting effects. This punishment method does not help
people who have bipolar disease, bad depression or schizophrenia. Being alone for 23 hours a
day and not having access to any educational, therapy or social activities push them to suicide.
They cannot handle stress well or follow the very strict prison routine. It is just too much for
them. As a result, their behavior does not improve and they don’t leave the solitary
confinement.
Limited budget and overload: The lack of funds makes it worse. 22 out of 40 prisons said they
did not have the qualified mental health staff. The staff is also overwhelmed by the large
number of inmates who need treatment.
The question of human rights: Are human rights violated? According to the UN Special
Rapporteur on Torture and the Human Rights Committee, “solitary confinement may amount
to cruel, inhuman, degrading treatment in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights” Data shows that prison can work just fine without confining mentally ill
inmates.
Medical ethics: It is the physician’s responsibility to report any mistreatment and report it or
they will be as guilty as the prison’s officers who made the decision to confine mentally ill
inmates.
5. The larger issue that this article addresses are not just the devastating effects of confining
mentally ill inmates but the violation of human rights and medical ethics. Don’t physicians have
a moral obligation to protect their patients?
6. I just do not understand how we can confine mentally ill people? They have little control over
their behavior and they are already mentally ill in a “normal” environment. Confining them is
like locking up someone who has asthma in a box with no air. What good does it do? Not much.
Subjecting them to the same punishment as non-mentally ill people is just wrong. Solitary
confinement is already wrong but it is just worse for this population. They don’t even
understand what is happening to them and they rarely improve in confinement and the vicious
circle keeps going…..they do not improve so they stay in solitary confinement for years and the
end result is tragic…suicide or continuous abuse.
7. I just used this article to discuss this topic
ADDITIONAL ARTICLES
1&2: Closson. T. (2021, April 24.) “New York Will End Long-term Solitary Confinement in
Prisons and Jails”. The New York Time

3. This article states the new law (Halt Act) that the state of New York passed in March 2021 to
end solitary confinement longer than 15 days with Governor Cuomo.
4. This article covers several points of view/values:
Long term confinement: Prisons will no longer be able to confine inmates for more than 15
days (long term). This new law applies to everybody including juvenile and people with
disabilities. It will go into effect in March 2022.
Length of confinement: Solitary confinement can last years just like for this inmate in the article
who spent 2 years there and he said: “You never got over that. I am not well by a long shot.”
The physical and psychological damages last a life time.
New procedures in place: This new law finally takes into consideration the mental damages of
solitary confinement. This new law will put in place mandatory screening for inmates who are
at risk of committing suicide and they will be put in a separate unit.
Current legislation: Solitary confinement will be no longer than 15 consecutive days or 20 total
days over 2 months. There will be no punishment for inmates under 22 and over 54. After the
15-day confinement, those inmates will benefit from therapy. This would be so much more
beneficial than plain punishment. It is better but there is still room for improvement.
5. This article addresses “racial inequity” in prisons. In fact, the black and Latino communities
represent 70% of the prison’s general population and more than four-fifth of solitary
confinement. This is alarming. In New-York, the black community represent 48% of the inmates
and 58% of them are in “special units.”
It also addresses other states like Colorado that also banned “long-term isolation” in 2017 and
New Jersey that limited it to 20 days in a row. In 2019, 11 more states like Georgia, New Mexico
and Nebraska also banned or limited solitary confinement for certain inmates’ groups in 2019.
6. I am pleased to see that certain states are passing laws to “improve” solitary confinement
but I believe that it should be banned completely. At least more and more states are following. I
feel like it should not just be banned for people under 22 and over 54. It should be banned for
the whole population. It is a step forward but it is not enough.
7. I only used this article to discuss this topic
1& 2: Liptak. A. (2022, February 14.) “27 Years in Solitary Confinement, Then Another Plea for
Help in Texas”. The New York Time.

3. This article addresses the abuse of solitary confinement with an inmate who spent 27 years
confined in Texas.
4. This article covers several points of view/values:
Inhuman conditions of confinement: Dennis Hope spent 27 years in solitary confinement in a 9
by 6 feet cell. He had no human contacts expect with the guards when they strip-searched him
or handcuffed him.
Lack of action from the Supreme Court and U.S Court of Appeal: Dennis Hope reached out to
the Supreme Court because he felt that this long-term isolation violated the 8th amendment. He
tried to sue the prison after 11 years of solitary confinement in 2015 and the U.S Court of
Appeal concluded that the “sheer length of this confinement” does not violate the 8th
amendment.
Texas law on solitary confinement: Texas is known for keeping inmates in solitary confinement
for a long time. More than 500 inmates have spent 10 years in solitary confinement and 138
have been confined for more than 20 years. This is alarming!
Nation’s statistics: According to a 2020 study from Yale Law School, 7000 inmates have been
confined for 1 year and 1500 for more than 6 years.
5. The larger issue that this article addresses is the lack of uniformity in terms of reforms or
policy across the states. The fact that an inmate spent 27 years in solitary confinement and
nothing was done to stop it is just wrong.
6. I could not believe that someone could spent 27 years in solitary confinement in an 9x 8 cell
where he could barely move and he had no contacts except with the guards. The U.S. Court of
Appeal did not find anything wrong with it. How can this happen in 2021 in the US or any other
countries? How do you just justify 27 years of mental and physical torture? Dennis is already in
prison, is that not enough? Have we become executioner of the human kind? This shows that
there is really something wrong in the judicial system in this country to allow states to confine
people for 27 years. The need for banning solitary confinement nationwide is more urgent than
before.
7. I only used this article to discuss this topic.
1&2: “Shining a Light on Solitary Confinement in Ohio: Why Ohio Needs Reforms”(May 2016)
This article was written by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Disability Right
Ohio organization.This executive report was published in the Ohio Justice and Policy Center.
This organization offers free legal assistance to Ohioans.
3. This article addresses the state and legislation of solitary confinement in Ohio
4. This article covers several points of view/values:
Structure of solitary confinement: The amount of time spent with other inmates is very limited.
43% of inmates have 10-30 minutes of social interaction. 59% spend less than 1 hour outside of
their cell. The amount of “free” time is based on the security level of the inmates. It varies from
5-one hour daily periods per week alone to 7 one hour daily periods per week with a small
group of inmates, meals served in cell or in groups, 2.5 hours of family contact per month to 4
visits per months (7 hours) Everything is based on a punishment scale.
Mental illness & lack of treatment: 743 inmates out of 2,952 in solitary confinement have a
mental illness. Only 31% are treated. It is proven that inmates in solitary confinement are 6.9
times more likely to hurt themselves.
Solitary confinement is expensive: In Ohio it costs $139 per prisoner in a solitary confinement
vs $54 in a regular cell.
Solitary confinement does not work and does make correctional facilities safer: In Maine, the
solitary confinement population was reduced by 50% and % of violence did not go up. In
Michigan, reducing the confined population reduced violence and misbehavior. In Mississippi,
closing a solitary confinement unit led to a 70% reduction in violence. Confinement is not the
solution!
5. This article addresses the lack of treatment for mentally ill inmates and the devasting
consequences of solitary confinement beyond Ohio, in California where 73% of the suicides
happened in solitary confinemen and in Indiana where the suicide rate is now 3 times more
important in solitary confinement.. The 2021 H.R.176- Restricting the use of Solitary
Confinement Act had several new restrictions to protect inmates. They can be found on this
site: https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/176/text
6. I am shocked to see that there are levels of punishment within the solitary confinement
units. Solitary confinement is bad enough but prisons feel the need to add another layer of
punishment. I am happy to see that there is no correlation between solitary confinement and
violence decrease. This article shows that reforms do work. Even small ones. Confining people
does not make a prison safer. Providing therapy and special treatment units do make a
difference. Solitary confinement is expensive and leads to more problems down the road like
mental illness and physical harm. I could not believe when I saw that the taxpayers of Ohio
spend $1.5 billion a year on prisons. Not sure where that money goes? The system is so broken:
there is no medical or psychological follow up with inmates, the solitary confinement units are
expensive and do not work, there is not enough staff and qualified staff to deal with the
confined inmates…but we keep spending billions for a system that just does not work.
7. I used this article and the congress.gov website https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-
congress/house-bill/176/text
(https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/176/text)
(https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/176/text)
VIDEO AND QUESTION
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1MPBzwlFTCb57_XTdRbVQ363G4oZaD3OZ/view

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