Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Behind the Eleventh Door

Solitary Confinement of Individuals with Mental Illness in Oregon’s State Prison

Behind the Eleventh Door

Disability Rights Oregon. Behind the Eleventh Door: Solitary Confinement of Individuals with Mental Illness in Oregon’s State Penitentiary Behavioral Health Unit. Portland, OR, 2015.



“The corrections system has become the nation’s largest provider of mental health services. The Oregon Department of Corrections (ODOC) has determined that more than half of Oregon’s prison population has been diagnosed with a mental illness. Many of the prisoners who are most profoundly impacted by their mental illnesses are held in solitary confinement in the Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) at the Oregon State Penitentiary. These men spend months and sometimes years in an approximately 6 x 10 foot cell, with no natural light, no access to the outdoors or fresh air, and very limited opportunities to speak with other people. While ODOC policy requires these prisoners to be offered regular opportunities to shower and ‘go to rec,’ our investigation revealed that few BHU prisoners are actually able to access these opportunities more than once or twice a week. Stated more simply, BHU prisoners are subjected to long periods of solitary confinement.”


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Keywords: people with disabilities, disciplinary segregation, administrative segregation, restrictive housing, restricted housing, segregation, segregated housing, isolation, torture, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), discrimination, segreated housing and mental health