Texas Legislature Orders Review of Inmates Held in Isolation


Texas relies more on keeping prisoners in isolation than do other states, says the Austin American-Statesman. About 5.5 percent of the state’s prisoners are isolated, higher than the most recent national count, 2.7 percent in 2005. Last week, largely in response to concerns raised by mental health advocates, legislators ordered a detailed analysis of Texas's use of administrative segregation, including recommendations on reducing its use and the amount of time offenders stay.

“Very little is known about conditions in administrative segregation and how these conditions affect its population,” said state Sen. John Carona, the bill's author. Several state prison systems recently have begun dramatically reducing their use of isolation. In some cases, the reforms were compelled by court order; in others, they were self-initiated. Economics is one reason. As state prison systems struggle to meet budgets, they are taking a harder look at expensive programs such as administrative segregation, which can be double the cost of regular prison units. (A Texas corrections spokesman said the state doesn't break out costs by custody level.)

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