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Texas Needs to Address Overreliance of Long-Term Solitary Confinement of Incarcerated Persons

Today, the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Right on Crime project published the paper Reining in Solitary Confinement in Texas: Recent Progress and Next Steps.

“Solitary confinement constitutes a significant deprivation of liberty for those who have already been segregated from society and must be carefully scrutinized,” said Marc Levin, the paper’s author. “In the last decade, Texas has significantly decreased the number of people in solitary confinement but continues to exponentially exceed other states’ numbers when it comes to confining people in solitary for long periods. In light of the overwhelming evidence demonstrating the serious physical and mental health consequences of extended solitary confinement, policymakers and agency officials must identify safe ways to transition more individuals from long-term solitary confinement.”

Key Points:

  • Texas prisons have historically relied on solitary confinement to promote order and safety, but growing research and recent experience suggest that there are often less damaging alternatives to prolonged solitary confinement.
  • Texas has made remarkable progress over the last decade in cutting admissions to solitary confinement and eliminating the practice of discharging individuals directly from solitary confinement to society, but Texas continues to far outstrip other states in the number of people kept in solitary for several years or more.
  • Texas should build on recent progress by expanding efforts to gradually step down individuals in long-term isolation to a lower custody level while also increasing the use of technology to provide educational programming for those who remain in solitary confinement.

To read the paper in full, please visit:

https://files.texaspolicy.com/uploads/2021/01/28152507/Levin-Reining-in-Solitary-Confinement.pdf

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