The Marshall Project. “From Solitary to the Street.” The Marshall Project, June 11, 2015. themarshallproject.org/2015/06/11/from-solitary-to-the-street.
This article published by The Marshall Project examines the harmful effects of releasing incarcerated people from restrictive housing directly into the community. By recounting the stories of various people who experienced these abrupt transitions from isolation to society, the article illustrates this practice’s detrimental effects and provides empirical examples about the issue. An investigation by the Marshall Project and NPR found that 24 states released more than 10,000 people from solitary confinement directly into the community in 2014. These data don’t include statistics from 26 non-reporting states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The article suggests that when people are released from restrictive housing directly to the community, they cannot transition back into society successfully. The potential psychological effects from placement in segregation, coupled with diminished access to programming and services while in segregation that might otherwise help ease someone’s transition, may have collateral consequences post-release—like having a more challenging time finding work than others released from the general population. In some states, these people are also not supported post-release by a probation or parole officer.
Being ill-prepared for release from a correctional facility may also have a significant effect on public safety. The article highlights that “more than 60 percent” of people released from segregation in state prisons “were rearrested within three years, compared with 49 percent of overall prison releases.” Other studies report that directly released individuals have a 35% higher recidivism rate than those released from a general population environment. Also noted is the vulnerability of those with mental illness to the harmful conditions in segregation and how it could severely hinder a successful transition into the community. The article concludes by highlighting promising segregation reforms such as step-down programs that gradually integrate incarcerated people back into the general population segregation, which puts them in a better position to return to the community and succeed.
Keywords: restrictive housing, segregation, isolation, release, step-down program, public safety, recidivism, employment, reentry, public safety, direct releases.