Prisoners are placed in solitary confinement, or administrative segregation, for violent or disruptive behavior. AS typically involves single-cell confinement for 23 hours daily; inmates are allowed one hour out of the cell for exercise and showers. Facilities for AS are expensive to build and maintain.
In the Colorado study, the cells were 80 square feet and had 35 square feet of unencumbered floor space. Each cell contained a bunk, toilet, sink, desk and stool. These items were made of metal and mounted on the floor or wall for security.
Each cell had an exterior window through which the prisoner could see the outside and a window that gave a view of the inside of the prison. Neither window opened, so the prisoner could not control airflow.
Prisoners were permitted at least one hour five times a week for recreation, as well as 15-minute showers three times a week. Prisoners were placed in full restraints before being escorted to the "recreation room," a 90-square-foot cell that contained a pull-up bar mounted to the wall but no other equipment.
Inmates received most services at their cell doors, including meals. Mental health clinicians visited at least once a month, and a librarian delivered books and magazines once a week.
At the beginning of their confinement, prisoners were allowed to have one 20-minute phone call and one non-contact visit each month. Privileges could be expanded if prisoners successfully completed behavior modification and cognitive programs.
About This Article
This article appeared in NIJ Journal Issue 269, March 2012, as a sidebar to the article Study Raises Questions About Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement by Philip Bulman, Marie Garcia and Jolene Hernon.