More than 122,000 people live in solitary confinement every day: report
A report, the first of its kind, released on Tuesday finally gave a clearer estimate of the number of people in solitary confinement in US jails and prisons on any given day: 122,840.
But that figure, which represents about 6% of the country’s prison and prison population, is likely a significant undercount. The calculation relies on data from state and local prisons as well as state and federal prisons — data which the report said had not previously been combined — but it was self-reported data and excludes all data from immigration detention centers and youth. facilities.
Still, the report, released by the nonprofit Solitary Watch and Unlock the Box, a campaign against solitary confinement, gives a more complete picture of the use of solitary confinement than was previously available.
Solitary confinement, also called “restrictive housing”, among other namesis often used throughout the criminal justice system, disproportionately against people of color. In 2020, a United Nations expert describes solitary confinement as a method of torture when a person is subjected to it for more than 15 consecutive days.
The report was written by Jean Casella and Alexandra Rivera of Solitary Watch and Jack Beck, Scott Paltrowitz and Jessica Sandoval of Unlock the Box. It includes figures taken from a report by the Vera Institute of Justice.
The report documents the recorded and estimated number of people in solitary confinement for 22 hours or more on any given day in 2019. The research does not take into account the number of people forced to self-isolate or were placed in isolation during the COVID-19 pandemicwhich had more widespread effects after 2019.
The report also lacks data on West Virginia, the only state that does not share its solitary confinement data. Of the remaining US states, Nevada reported the highest percentage of its prison and prison population confined to solitary confinement (nearly 26%), while Delaware, on the other hand, reported 0%.
“Closed solitary confinement is the worst thing that can legally be done to a person in this country, other than the death penalty. It has been proven to be a form of torture,” Casella, director of Solitary Watch, told HuffPost.
“The idea that more than 100,000 Americans — more than 1 in 20 incarcerated people — are being subjected to these conditions daily is shocking, and we hope it inspires people to take action,” Casella added.
“Closed solitary confinement is the worst thing that can legally be done to a person in this country, other than the death penalty.”
– Jean Casella, Solitaire Watch
According Prison policypeople held in solitary confinement are more likely to die suicide, an opioid overdose or homicide when released. They are also likely to suffer from hallucinations, self-harm, PTSD and other long-lasting mental health issues.
The report notes that some people spend weeks, months or years in solitary confinement, many suffering irreparable damage.
Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.), who advocated for an end to solitary confinementcalled the report’s findings “a disaster”.
“To inflict isolation on one person is a moral blight on this nation. To inflict it on hundreds of thousands of people — disproportionately Black, Brown and Indigenous — is a disaster,” Bush said in a statement. sent to HuffPost.
Legislators and officials, including President Joe Biden And Vice President Kamala Harrispromised they would work to end or reduce solitary confinement.
Similarly, the Federal Bureau of Prisons says it is “taking the necessary short and long-term steps to address this issue in a thoughtful manner, and we are confident in [BOP Director Colette Peters’] ability to effectively achieve the objectives of the executive order,” a Justice Department spokesperson told NBC News, referring to Biden’s commitment to “ensure that conditions of confinement are safe and humane” and “free from prolonged segregation”.
The call to end solitary confinement has gained ground over the past decade. But, Casella told NBC, “jails and jails are perhaps the most change-resistant government institutions we have in this country.”
“Making any kind of change will be a long and arduous process,” she said.
The DOJ did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
If you or someone you know needs help, dial 988 or call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also get help by text message by visiting suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat. Additionally, you can find local mental health and crisis resources at dontcallthepolice.com. Outside the United States, please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention.
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