Center on Sentencing and Corrections

More Than Emptying Beds

A Systems Approach to Segregation Reform

More Than Emptying Beds

Pacholke, Dan and Sandy Felkey Mullins. More Than Emptying Beds: A Systems Approach to Segregation Reform. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance, 2016. NCJ 249858.


Dan Pacholke and Sandy Felkey Mullins, former officials in the Washington State Department of Corrections (WADOC), wrote this policy brief for the Bureau of Justice Assistance to share lessons from WADOC’s years of reforming their use of segregation. It stresses that “reducing the use of segregation on its own by only ‘emptying beds’ is of limited value. To make an impactful change, a systems approach to this complex issue is essential.”

“Although there are occasions when restrictive housing may be the best tool we have to ensure the safety of inmates, staff, and the public, [WADOC’s] experience shows that, with a systems approach, it is possible to reduce the numbers of people going into restrictive housing, create rehabilitative alternatives, ensure an accountable and consistent process for placement and release decisions, improve conditions for those who are placed in restrictive housing and for those who work there, and facilitate successful exit from those placements.”


Click here to view the report, or download below.


Keywords: disciplinary segregation, administrative segregation, institutional violence, violence reduction strategy, deterrence-based strategy, swift and certain model, segregation programming, programming in segregation, staff training, safe harbors, mission housing, protective custody, high utilizers, frequent fliers, segregation recidivism, data collection, data analysis