Achieving transformative change in U.S. prisons and jails starts with focusing all correctional practices on human dignity. The use of restrictive housing, also called segregation or solitary confinement, presents a major barrier to this change. Restrictive housing—the placement of a person, alone or with a cellmate, in a locked room or cell for 22 or more hours per day without meaningful access to other people, programming, or the outdoors—has become the standard response to a variety of problems far beyond what it was intended to address. Restrictive housing is used in many prisons and jails to discipline people for violating rules, to protect vulnerable populations, and to address administrative challenges. To begin the path towards reform, corrections agencies must critically assess the underlying issues at all levels that drive the use of restrictive housing. To end this practice, agencies must implement systemwide policies and practices that honor the dignity, health, and safety of all those who live and work in correctional facilities.
The Vera Institute of Justice’s Restrictive Housing Assessment Tool provides state and local correctional agencies, advocates, legislators, and other key stakeholders an opportunity to evaluate their jurisdiction’s use of restrictive housing and receive tailored recommendations for practical steps to work toward the reduction and ultimately the elimination of restrictive housing.