Why Are People Sent to Solitary Confinement? The Reasons Might Surprise You. New York: Vera Institute of Justice, 2021.
Many people assume that solitary confinement is used only for serious and violent behavior, but violence is typically not the most common reason that people are sent there. The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) has found that incarcerated people are frequently sent to restrictive housing in response to low-level and nonviolent misbehaviors, because they need protection, or in response to symptoms of mental illness.
Vera partnered with eight state prison systems and two local jail systems from 2015 to 2018 to analyze their use of restrictive housing and recommend reforms to significantly reduce that use. This fact sheet includes selected findings from these assessments for illustrative purposes. Many of the systems with which Vera partnered have since addressed issues highlighted here by implementing concrete reforms (for example, see “Where are they now?” section of this report); however, such issues still exist in numerous jurisdictions around the country.
Keywords: violence, security threat, dangerous, infractions, reasons for solitary, non-violent infractions, nonviolent infractions, non-violent misbehavior, protective custody, mental health needs, disciplinary sanctions