Around the country, media outlets brought attention to solitary confinement (also known as restrictive housing or segregation), while advocates and activists campaigned for reforms and policymakers debated its use.Amy Fettig and Margo Schlanger, “Milestones in Solitary Reform,” Solitary Watch.
Some states passed laws limiting the use of solitary confinement, while other reforms were brought about through lawsuits.“California Eases Conditions at Death Row Disciplinary Unit,” KRON4.com, March 6, 2017; and Andrea Huber, Olivia Rope, and Frances Sheahan, Global Prison Trends 2017 (London: Penal Reform International, 2017), 27.
A growing number of corrections leaders in states both red and blue began spearheading changes in their departments’ policies and practices.Rick Raemisch, “Why We Ended Long-Term Solitary Confinement in Colorado,” New York Times, October 12, 2017. In 2017, five new states joined the eight others that have committed to work with the Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) to find ways to safely reduce their use of solitary confinement.Vera Institute of Justice, “Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative,” The American Correctional Association, a professional industry organization, adopted a detailed set of standards on the use of restrictive housing, including limiting use for vulnerable populations, such as people with serious mental illnesses.American Correctional Association, Restrictive Housing Performance Based Standards: August 2016 (Washington, DC: American Correctional Association, 2016); and Association for State Correctional Administrators, Restrictive Status Housing Policy Guidelines (Nampa, ID: Association of State Correctional Administrators, 2013). Colorado went further, taking the unprecedented step of ending all solitary confinement longer than 15 days.Raemisch, “Why We Ended Long-Term Solitary Confinement” (2017).