The Federal Bureau of Prisons has agreed to a comprehensive review of the use of solitary confinement in its prisons, including the fiscal and public safety consequences of the controversial practice, reports Reuters. A spokesman from the bureau confirmed that the National Institute of Corrections plans to retain an independent auditor “in the weeks ahead” to examine the use of solitary confinement, which is also known as restrictive housing.
Prisoners in isolation are often confined to small cells without windows for up to 23 hours a day. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin’s office said the practice can have a severe psychological impact on inmates and that more than half of all suicides committed in prisons occur in solitary confinement. In Durbin’s state of Illinois, 56 percent of inmates have spent some time in segregated housing. “The United States holds more prisoners in solitary confinement than any other democratic nation in the world, and the dramatic expansion of solitary confinement is a human rights issue we can’t ignore,” said Durbin, who chaired a Senate hearing on the use of solitary confinement last year. News of the review was welcomed by the ACLU, a critic of the nation’s use of solitary confinement.