Texas Ends Solitary Confinement for Rule-Breaking

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Texas prisons have ended the use of solitary confinement for breaking rules, the Houston Chronicle reports. “When reviewing solitary confinement as a policy and practice we determined that as a department we can effectively operate without it,” said Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark. The change took place September 1. The more commonly used administrative segregation – non-punitive isolation due to perceived security risks or danger to others – is still used, though its prevalence has plummeted over the past decade.

“Restrictive housing has been a topic of discussion across the nation for a number of years and as an agency over the last several years we’re really looked at ways to reduce it and in such a way that a priority is placed on safety and security,” Clark said. As of July 31, Texas prisons had only 76 inmates in punitive solitary confinement. Now, they’ll rely on other restrictions – such as loss of good time or loss of commissary and phone privileges – to control bad behavior. “There’s never been any factors that show that [solitary confinement] positively rehabilitates the individual,” said Lance Lowry, who heads the Texas Correctional Employees union. The shift won’t affect the nearly 4,000 prisoners in administrative segregation due to gang affiliation, risk of escape, or other evidence of ongoing danger to staff or fellow inmates. “You still need security detention because the Hannibal Lecters of the world are still out there,” Lowry said. “There’s still some bad actors in prison that will hurt people.”

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