Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Restrictive Housing Unit: New Name, Same Flower

Restrictive Housing Unit: New Name, Same Flower

White, Sean. Restrictive Housing Unit: New Name, Same Flower.Journal of Prisoners on Prisons 29, no. 1 & 2 (2020), 72-74. 

This Journal of Prisoners on Prisons article provides a critique of changes to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) disciplinary processThe author provides a first-hand account of the conditions within the “Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU)” at Lisbon Correctional Institution, where they previously spent time on “Temporary Lock-Up (TLU)” pending an investigation. In 2015, the DOC implemented new policies restricting the use of long-term segregation. According to the article, though lengths of stay have significantly decreased (from months and years to weeks), there are still several issues with RHU—specifically, the lack of due process protections for incarcerated people and the amount of property allowed in RHU while on TLU. The author also notes issues when people deemed “problematic” by staff or who receive disciplinary infractions in segregation often stay in segregation for months or years, in the RHU or in administrative confinement (which is intended to be non-punitive but is punitive in practice). The article also notes infrequent reviews for continued segregation, which happens twice a year, contributing to lengthy stays in segregation. Overall, the author calls for tangible changes in practice and not just policy.  

Click here to read the article. 

Keywords: incarcerated people, conditions, long-term restrictive housing, length of stay, reforms, W.I.