Center on Sentencing and Corrections

A Solitary Failure

The Waste, Cost and Harm of Solitary Confinement in Texas

A Solitary Failure

Butler, Burke and Matthew Simpson. A Solitary Failure: The Waste, Cost and Harm of Solitary Confinement in Texas. American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, 2015

“The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) confines 4.4 percent of its prison population in solitary confinement. Texas locks more people in solitary-confinement cells than twelve states house in their entire prison system. On average, prisoners remain in solitary confinement for almost four years; over one hundred Texas prisoners have spent more than twenty years in solitary confinement. The conditions in which these people live impose such severe deprivations that they leave prison mentally damaged; as a group, people released from solitary are more likely to commit more new crimes than people released from the rest of the prison system. Yet in 2013, TDCJ released 1,243 people directly from solitary-confinement cells into Texas communities. These prisoners return to society after living for years or decades in a tiny cell for twenty-two hours a day, with no contact with other human beings or access to educational or rehabilitative programs. As documented in this report, this dangerous and expensive practice is making our state less safe.”

Click here to view the report.

Keywords: Texas, public safety, harmful effects, safety, mental illness, conditions of confinement, cost