New Fact Sheet Explodes the Myth That Solitary Confinement Reduces Violence in Prisons

by | February 28, 2023

Today, Solitary Watch is publishing the fourth in a new series of fact sheets offering facts, analysis, and resources on a variety of topics related to solitary confinement in U.S. prisons, jails, and immigrant and juvenile facilities. This fact sheet, written by by Sara Rain Tree, addresses misconceptions about solitary confinement and prison violence, and provides the facts on the relationship between solitary and prison safety.

Download “Solitary Confinement and Prison Safety: Solitary Watch Fact Sheet #4” (2023, PDF)

As the fact sheet states, “Since the practice began, proponents of solitary confinement have claimed that it plays an essential role in preventing violence and promoting prison safety. However, many studies over the last two decades have shown that solitary confinement is not an effective method of controlling incarcerated people or addressing prison violence.”

It continues: “In fact, many facilities where solitary confinement has been reduced or eliminated also saw a decrease in hostility between incarcerated people and correctional officers and overall reductions in the number of violent incidents. Additionally, many facilities have reduced violence by instituting policies that reward positive behavior, enhance programming, increase the autonomy of incarcerated people, and train prison staff in alternative approaches.”

The first fact sheet in the new series addressed “Racism and Solitary Confinement,” while the second covered the often overlooked “Collateral Consequences of Solitary Confinement.” The third in the series documented the “Psychological Effect of Solitary Confinement.” Future entries in the fact sheet series will cover “The Neurological Effects of Solitary Confinement,” “Solitary Confinement and Prison Oversight,” and the specific impacts of solitary on LGBTQ+ individuals, women, and children—eight more fact sheets currently in progress.

Fact sheets are designed to be accessed online and also printed out and copied for use by educators, advocates, policymakers, and others.

Jean Casella

Jean Casella is the director of Solitary Watch. She has also published work in The Guardian, The Nation, and Mother Jones, and is co-editor of the book Hell Is a Very Small Place: Voices from Solitary Confinement. She has received a Soros Justice Media Fellowship and an Alicia Patterson Fellowship. She tweets @solitarywatch.

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