Study: Texas leads the nation in number of inmates held in long-term solitary confinement


Texas leads the nation in the number of prisoners held in long-term solitary confinement, a new study issued in September has found.

The study by the Association of State Correctional Administrators and the Liman Center for Public Interest Law at Yale Law School, found that 4,272 of the state’s more than 145,000 prisoners are being kept in solitary confinement, or administrative segregation.

The study also found that of the 2,000 inmates nationally held in solitary for more than six years, 1,326 are housed in Texas.

The number in solitary has dropped from approximately 9,000 a decade ago. The percentage held in solitary in Texas is currently at 2.9 percent, well below the national median of 4.2 percent. Louisiana leads the way with 19 percent.

Texas, along with many other states, has in recent years introduced policies aimed at decreasing the numbers held in solitary confinement.

The study noted, quoting an article in the Houston Chronicle, that the Texas prison system has eliminated solitary confinement as a punishment.

However, when that policy was implemented in September 2017, just 75 individuals were in isolation as a punishment. This did not affect the vast majority held for administrative reasons, such as gang affiliation or security threats.

In summary, the study concluded, “Correctional administrations’ efforts to reduce the numbers of people in restrictive housing are part of a larger picture in which legislatures, courts, and other institutions are seeking to limit” long-term isolation. The study defined that as prisoners being held in solitary confinement for 22 hours out of every 24, for a stretch of at least 15 days. 

This reflects, the authors contend, the “national and international consensus that restrictive housing imposes grave harms on individuals confined, on staff, and on the communities to which prisoners return.”


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