Legislation and Litigation

Restrictive Housing in the U.S.: Issues, Challenges, and Future Directions

This report, composed by the National Institute of Justice, dives into all aspects of restrictive housing from conditions of confinement to legality to impacts and more. This report is comprised of a series of papers by leading experts on restrictive housing and commentary on research gaps, as well as directions for further research. This is not a new research study. Read More

Colorado Senate Bill 11-176

This bill, passed in 2011, addresses the use of restrictive housing in Colorado prisons and requires the submission of an annual report on the issue to the legislature. Read More

Texas Senate Bill 1003

This bill, passed in 2013, requires the collection of data on the placement of juveniles in disciplinary seclusion, and also calls for an independent reviewer to examine the use of segregation in Texas Department of Criminal Justice facilities. Read More

Westefer v. Snyder

This case was brought by prisoners at Illinois' Tamms Correctional Center. The court found that existing procedures for assigning inmates to Tamms were constitutionally inadequate. Read More

New Hampshire House Bill 480

This bill would have capped the length of disciplinary segregation at 6 weeks and banned the use of solitary confinement for individuals under age 18 and for those with serious mental illness. Read More

Massachusetts Senate Bill S.1133

This 2013 bill stated that “segregated housing should be for the briefest term and under the least restrictive conditions practicable" and provided for regular reviews of placement, addressed conditions of confinement, and called for an emphasis on rehabilitative programming. Read More

Solitary Confinement: Punished for Life

This New York Times article focuses on the psychological effects of long-term solitary confinement and examines the research of Dr. Craig Haney, who interviewed inmates who have been in segregation for years and even decades at Pelican Bay State Prison in California. Read More

Maryland Senate Bill 0861 / House Bill 787

This bill, introduced in Maryland in 2014, would have required an independent third party to evaluate Maryland correctional facilities' use of isolated confinement and offer recommendations for improvement. This bill did not pass. Read More

Silverstein v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

In this case, a federal court found that the conditions of the plaintiff in a Bureau of Prisons facility (ADX Florence) did not rise to the level of an Eighth Amendment violation and that the Bureau was justified in housing the plaintiff in segregation. Read More

Parsons v. Ryan

A federal court approved a settlement in this class-action suit on behalf of prisoners in Arizona. The settlement makes significant reforms in prison conditions, including for prisoners in solitary confinement who have serious mental illnesses. Read More

Dockery v. Epps

This federal lawsuit was brought on behalf of prisoners housed at a private, for-profit prison designed to provide treatment for incarcerated individuals with serious mental illness. It alleged unconstitutional conditions of confinement at this facility, including the placement of prisoners with significant mental illness in isolation for long periods of time. Read More

The Plot from Solitary

This long-form article from New York magazine examines the hunger strike by Todd Ashker and other inmates at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison, and the conditions in the prison’s Special Housing Unit (SHU) which led the strikers to protest. Read More

Ashker v. Governor of California

This federal class action lawsuit, on behalf of prisoners held in the Security Housing Unit at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison, was settled on September 1, 2015, ending indeterminate solitary confinement in California, and dramatically reducing the number of people in isolation. Read More

Office of Protection and Advocacy v. Choinski

Connecticut's Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities filed a case alleging that prisoners with mental illness were subject to unconstitutional conditions of confinement. The settlement agreement called for increased staffing and changes to mental health services. Read More

Presley v. Epps

This federal lawsuit, filed on behalf of individuals confined in a supermax facility in Mississippi, alleged inhumane conditions of confinement. In August 2010, Mississippi agreed to close the unit and move all seriously mentally ill inmates to a mental health facility. Read More

Texas House Bill 1083

This bill, passed in 2015, requires a mental health assessment be performed before an inmate can be placed in administrative segregation. Read More

New York Senate Bill 6422 / Assembly Bill 9342

This bill, which went into effect in 2008, requires mental health assessments of inmates placed in segregated confinement and requires that inmates with serious mental illness be excluded from such confinement and instead placed in residential mental health treatment units. Read More

S.H. v. Reed

A federal civil rights class action on behalf of all juveniles in the custody of the Ohio Department of Youth Services. Read More

Peoples v. Fischer

A lawsuit that challenged the constitutionality of solitary confinement in New York State prisons, which in 2015 resulted in a settlement agreement to comprehensively overhaul its use. Read More