Center on Sentencing and Corrections

The High Cost of Solitary Confinement

The High Cost of Solitary Confinement

Solitary Watch, “Factsheet: The High Cost of Solitary Confinement.” New York: Solitary Watch, 2012.

 This factsheet from Solitary Watch provides data on the high cost of solitary confinement in prisons. In addition to asserting the psychological harms of restrictive housing and its failure to reduce violence in prisons, the factsheet outlines the costs of solitary confinement in California, Illinois, Colorado, other states, and federal prisons. Notable data include: 

  1. In California, the average total cost of holding each person in Security Housing Units is $480,358. Housing the same inmate in the general population would save $83,733. 
  2. Solitary confinement costs California taxpayers an additional $175 million a year, including the costs of Security Housing Units and Administrative Segregation Units. 
  3. In Illinois, it costs $92,000 a year to house someone in solitary confinement at Tamms Correctional Center, which is two to three times higher than the cost of keeping an inmate at the state’s other maximum-security prisons. Furthermore, a 14% reduction of people held in solitary confinement decreased spending by $3 million. 
  4. In Colorado, the ACLU of Colorado reported that in 2010 it cost $14,933 to $21,485 more per inmate, per year to hold someone in administrative segregation in the state’s supermax prisons than in a regular maximum-security prison. 
  5. In Texas, the cost of housing someone in administrative segregation is 45 percent higher than housing someone in the general population, at $61.63 per day. 
  6. In federal prisons, “in addition to higher operating costs, supermax prisons have consistently higher construction costs than other types of facilities—two to three times higher, according to one report, than a maximum-security prison.” 
  7. In Mississippi, a reduction of the number of people in solitary confinement and the closure of its supermax unit saves Mississippi taxpayers an estimated $8 million a year. 


Click here to read the factsheet. 

 Keywords: solitary confinement, restrictive housing, administrative segregation, costs, financial, taxpayers, construction costs, factsheet, Illinois, California, Mississippi, SHU, ASU