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Solitary confinement isolates violent or hard-to-manage prisoners from the gener
Solitary confinement isolates violent or hard-to-manage prisoners from the general population. There are many phrases used to describe solitary, including “the hole,” SHU (solitary housing unit, used in the federal system), and “AdSeg” (administrative segregation). Usually, it requires the inmate stay in their small cells for 23 hours a day. Inmate is physically, visually, and audibly confined from interaction with other humans, except possibly staff at the facility. When released, they remain isolated from others (except for the occasional contact with facility personnel). Solitary confinement has been used in the United States since the nation was founded. Initially, it was used as both an effort to punish and to reform. As background: you won’t be tested on these details, but to gives context for your The Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia is credited with being the first prison in the United States. The guiding philosophy—dubbed the Pennsylvania System—of the Walnut Street Jail was that isolation and silence were necessary for offenders’ reflection, reformation, and rehabilitation. By being incarcerated in small, solitary cells, prisoners could reflect on their wrongdoings and be penitent (i.e., feel or show remorse and regret for crimes). From this philosophy the word penitentiary emerged. Later, a new Pennsylvania facility, the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia, was constructed to handle an increasing number of inmates. Like the Walnut Street facility, the Eastern State Penitentiary operated under the Pennsylvania System. (this is important only because you are likely to see these various names in text, and it helps to know they are related). Inmates ate, slept, worked, and studied the Bible in solitary silence. Inmates could not communicate with or see other inmates, they could have no visitors, and they had no access to information from news sources. In this system, offenders were blindfolded when moved through the facility. Given the lack of interpersonal interaction, this system is also known as the separate system. The architecture of the penitentiaries built under the separate system reflects its underlying philosophy. These prisons were built in a hub-and-spoke style. The center point, the hub, was octagonal with seven spokes radiating from it. Along each spoke or corridor were cells, 8 by 12 feet wide and 10 feet tall, with basic amenities. These cells were relatively large and facilitated the isolation needed for reformation and penitence. The design of the cells was important because inmates served their entire sentences in these solitary rooms. Each cell had a peephole so correctional officers could see prisoners, but prisoners could not see officers. As more individuals were sentenced to the penitentiary, it became difficult to maintain the isolation, silence, and discipline required. During the same period, the Auburn System emerged in New York. Like the Pennsylvania System, it was based on reformation. But, in contrast to the Pennsylvania System, work by inmates was a critical element in the Auburn System. So, like the Pennsylvania System, it housed inmates separately and prohibited any communication among them, verbal or otherwise. Auburn inmates were confined separately at night, but during the day they congregated silently work and produce goods for private sector entities. The architecture of the Auburn System reflected the congregate philosophy. Cells were a mere 3.5 by 7.5 feet wide and 7 feet tall. Small cells facilitated the needed isolation of inmates as they reflected on their crimes during the evenings. Cells were arranged in two rows, stacked five tiers high, with the backs of cells adjoined. As jail and prison populations increase, facilities face the challenge of housing a variety of offenders with varying lifestyles, needs, and level of offenses. Populations can be controlled by incentives like work, special privileges, or reduced sentences. Facilities also can implement system approaches like grouping or separating inmates. It has been a fixture within the criminal justice penal system. To illustrate: Given the varying uses of solitary confinement – to protect the inmate vs. protect the prison population, etc. - identifying how many people are in solitary confinement at any time can be challenging. According to one study, about 80,000 people were in solitary in the United States during 2014. Each day, on average, from 2011 to 2012, it is estimated that 4.4% of state and federal inmates and 2.7% of local jail inmates were placed in solitary confinement. Estimates also indicate that 18.1% of prison inmates and 17.4% of local jail inmates had spent time in solitary during the past 12 months. In 2013, in a study of supermax prisons, an estimated 25,000 prisoners were held in long-term solitary confinement. The average stay in solitary confinement is almost 3 years. The supermax facility at the Pelican Bay prison, in California, has housed inmates in solitary for as long as 20 years. But, in the modern system, solitary confinement is characterized less as a “punishment” – as that would subject it to limits on cruel and unusual punishment – and more of administrative segregation. It means to protect inmates from self-harm (e.g., suicide) and from being victimized by others. Some need protection from because of the nature of their crime. To illustrate: Prisons also used solitary confinement for communities it is at a loss for ways to protect them from being victimized- e.g., juveniles and transgender inmates. Controversially, solitary confinement also is used when the inmate did not misbehave or otherwise deserve this treatment. Protective custody is used commonly for juveniles incarcerated in adult prisons, for LGBTQ inmates, and those that have noriety like celebrities or former police officers. Those that have committed crimes against children uniquely face serious injury or being killed if put in the general population. Often, gang “affiliated” prisoners are routinely placed in solitary confinement to avoid outbreaks of violence. Optional Skim: Textbook- Mallicoat: Current Controversy 11.1, p. 267-268 – Should We Use Solitary Confinement to Control Violent and Disruptive Behaviors? The challenge is that disparities exist in how facilities implement solitary confinement. While it is meant to be based on a "risk" assessment, since it is not characterized as "punishment," no due process exists to impose it. Prison officials unilaterally decide whether to administer it. This has led to unequal treatment. To illustrate: The percentage of inmates in solitary was similar between men and women in jails (17%) and prisons (17.9% for men and 20.4% for women). Differences were noted when considering inmate race: Black inmates were in solitary during the past 12 months at a higher percentage (20.8%) than White (16.0%) and Latino (16.0%) inmates. Those with less than a high school education were placed in solitary during the past 12 months at percentages higher than those with high school diplomas (prison: 20.5% less than high school, 15.1% high school; jail: 19.2% less than high school, 15.4% high school). Research also shows that heterosexuals were placed in solitary confinement during the past 12 months at lower percentages than were lesbian, gay, or bisexual inmates. In prisons, 17.5% of heterosexual and 27.8% of LGBTQ inmates were placed in solitary. In jails, the disparity was not as large, as 17.2% of heterosexual and 21.6% of LGBTQ inmates were housed in solitary. Critics challenge, however, that solitary confinement amounts to cruel and unusual punishment. To illustrate: The federally operated supermax (aka ADMAX) prison, known as ADX or “Alcatraz of the Rockies,” houses over 400 male inmates. ADX has housed notorious criminals, including Theodore Kaczynski (the Unabomber), Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (one of the two Boston Marathon bombers), John Walker Lindh (the American Taliban), Robert Hanssen (an FBI special agent turned Soviet spy), Zacarias Moussaoui (a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks), Eric Rudolph (the Olympic Park bomber), and Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols (the Oklahoma City bombers). The inmates live in extreme isolation. Inmates are locked in their cells alone 23 hours a day. When released from their cells for 5 hours of recreation each week (again, solitary), they are escorted by at least three officers. The facility prevents inmates from knowing where exactly they are located (to prevent escape). Communication with the outside world is not allowed. Force feedings have occurred. When an inmate misbehaves, he is placed in the “Z-unit,” otherwise known as the “black hole.” This area can house up to 148 inmates in complete darkness and fully soundproofed cells. Each black hole cell also has a full set of body restraints built into the concrete bed. Five plaintiffs (and six interested parties) housed in the Florence special housing unit (i.e., solitary confinement) filed a federal class action suit in 2012 against the Federal Bureau of Prisons and officials (Bacote v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, later renamed Cunningham v. Federal Bureau of Prisons) alleging “chronic abuse, failure to properly diagnose and neglect of prisoners who are seriously mentally ill.” The U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado approved a settlement in December 2016, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected a challenge to the settlement agreement in September 2017. This rejection means that the settlement became final in September 2017. Proponents argue it is “just deserts.” Remember, though, jails also house individuals not yet convicted (proved) of crimes. For example, persons waiting to be arraigned are housed in jails. The significance is the fact that the conditions of the incarceration can far exceed the intent of the sentence of incarceration. A rich body of research has focused on solitary confinement and found it leads to the development or worsening of mental disorders and that it is not effective in reducing recidivism. Using solitary confinement may produce devastating emotional and psychological outcomes. Studies show extended use of solitary confinement is detrimental to inmates’ mental and physical health. The prisoners suffer from higher suicide rates, depression, decreased cognitive abilities, and sometimes hallucinations. A 2011 United Nations report noted that the practice is tantamount to torture and should be limited to 15 days. The effect on inmates is only exacerbated by the fact that many inmates enter the facility with mental illness. To illustrate this dilemma, From an administrator’s or a correctional officer’s perspective, keeping the mentally ill in the general population is problematic because of the disruptions, and without in-house special treatment facilities there are few alternative placements aside from solitary. Prisons suffer from a scarcity of psychiatrists and psychologists to provide treatment. But many of the mentally ill suffer from schizophrenia and depression. In 2012, the American Psychiatric Association noted that lengthy segregation (over 3 or 4 weeks) causes serious harm to ill prisoners and should be avoided. Solitary confinement can exacerbate preexisting conditions. Investigations by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have documented cases of mentally ill inmates in isolation attempting suicide, eating feces, and banging their heads against the wall. Increasingly, solitary confinement is being scrutinized for its effect on the public. The practice, especially in a super-maximum facility, is expensive. The annual cost per inmate is about $78,000 in federal prisons. Also, critics question whether the design of solitary confinement runs counter to the goals of punishment: one largely based on rehabilitation. The physical, emotional, and psychological impact on the inmate also is significant because eventually she or he will be released back into the community. But in this setting, inmates are deprived of educational, vocational, medical, recreational, and rehabilitative opportunities. To illustrate: In 2013, after spending most of his 8 years in prison in solitary confinement, Evan Ebel was released on parole in Colorado. While in prison, he became affiliated with the racist 211 Crew gang. Almost immediately, he obtained a firearm and murdered a pizza deliveryman named Nathan Leon. Then, taking his pizza delivery uniform, he went to the home of Tom Clements. Clements was the Colorado prisons director. When Clements answered the door, Ebel assassinated him. Ebel was eventually found in Texas and died in a shoot-out with police. In his car, authorities found a hit list with 20 names of officials he intended to kill. Ebel’s family contends that his long stay in solitary contributed to his increasing violence and erratic behavior. Because of this incident, in 2014, Colorado banned the use of solitary confinement for mentally ill inmates and reduced the number of inmates released from solitary directly to the community. Increasingly the system of incarceration has come under scrutiny. Some states, including Colorado, Maine, and Mississippi, have reduced the use of solitary. To date, the U.S. Supreme Court has not found the practice unconstitutional for adults. The National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ) approved a resolution in 2016 to limit the use of solitary for young people, urging judges to take leadership positions in the effort. Under President Barack Obama, the Department of Justice set limits on using solitary in federal facilities, with the directive that youth under 18 should never be held in solitary. Legislation was passed in numerous states including California. Much of the movement followed the Kalief Brown case. This well-known and highly publicized case 16-year-old Kalief Browder was held in primarily in solitary confinement during his three-year incarceration after being suspected of stealing a backpack. Ultimately, he was released after never being convicted of a crime. Although released, he never achieved freedom. He eventually committed suicide due to the trauma he suffered during his incarceration. The consequences of solitary confinement on adults is well known. Less is known about the impact on juvenile offenders. Instructions: (1) Watch the documentary videos regarding Kalief Browder. You do not have to watch all the videos. Skim at least two to get enough idea of the controversy. (remember, you can watch it on increased speed) Video: Time: Kalief Browder (44mins each) - Skim (watch in the amount you need to form an opinion) Part 1: https://binged.it/2MfEGYE (Links to an external site.) Part 2: https://binged.it/2M8faEz (Links to an external site.) Part 3: https://binged.it/2Mc6LQQ (Links to an external site.) Part 4: https://binged.it/2MmL0xQ (Links to an external site.) Reflect and develop an opinion on treatment of humans in the criminal "justice" system as illustrated by the use of solitary confinement. (2) In approx. 1,000 - 2,000 words (2-4 pages if single spaced), use specifically cited references and explanations from each of the documentary and supporting materials, specifically connecting it to our course lessons (lecture, supplemental lessons, and/or textbook), to address: (2a) Show you understood the materials by explaining in your own words what purpose solitary confinement has in the criminal justice system. You must specifically cite and apply the textbook and/or course materials that sets out the requirements and framework for your understanding. (2b) Identifying and describing at least three (3) consequences of solitary confinement you saw depicted in the videos and articles below. Avoid just listing the consequences, and instead, specifically describe what the consequences are using specific examples and accounts shown in the videos. (2c) Based on each of the video and materials below, explain whether you believe the consequences you see in the videos are due to the youth of the offender, or is the cruelty inherent in solitary confinement? (2d) Explore your beliefs by critically analyze what do you believe it says about us as a society when we allow ourselves to treat youth in this way? In other words, can "justice" be achieved when humans face this treatment in the system? Your answer must show you can connect concepts from several modules - e.g., for your answer consider the supplemental materials regarding the role of crime and punishment in society.

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