In a new report, the Vera Institute of Justice dispels what it says are 10 erroneous justifications for the use of solitary confinement and discusses alternative practices that protect staff and inmate safety without the bad effects of isolation. The report identifies 10 misconceptions about solitary confinement to which many still subscribe—including the idea that solitary confinement deters misbehavior and violence or that safe alternatives to segregated housing are too expensive.
Alternatives used across the U.S. include “step-down” incentive programs that allow inmates held in solitary to earn increased privileges for sustained compliance with facility rules, or special programming for incarcerated people who are most likely to misbehave. “Solitary confinement is not a cure-all for every behavioral, disciplinary, and administrative challenge behind bars, yet too many incarcerated people are still subjected to these unnecessarily restrictive conditions as a matter of routine,” said Fred Patrick, director of Vera's Center on Sentencing and Corrections. “As this report notes, however, a growing number of corrections officials across the country are leaving old thinking behind and implementing alternatives that are more effective, less costly, and that balance facility safety with respect for human dignity.”