U.S. Office of the Inspector General. Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ Use of Restrictive Housing for Inmates with Mental Illness. Washington, DC. July 2017.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is responsible for confining individuals in environments that are safe, humane, cost-efficient, and appropriately secure. To do so, the BOP utilizes various forms of Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) to confine certain inmates, including those with mental illness. However, according to recent research and reports, as well as the BOP’s own policy, confinement in RHUs, even for relatively short periods of time, can adversely affect inmates’ mental health and can be particularly harmful for inmates with mental illness.
As of June 2016, of the 148,227 sentenced inmates in the BOP’s 122 institutions, 9,749 inmates (7%) were housed in its three largest forms of RHU: Special Housing Units (SHU) in 111 institutions; Two Special Management Units (SMU) at the U.S. Penitentiaries (USP) in Lewisburg and Allenwood, Pennsylvania; and the USP Administrative Maximum Security Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado.
The Office of the Inspector General conducted this review to examine the BOP’s use of RHUs for individuals with mental illness, including trends in the use of restrictive housing and the screening, treatment, and monitoring of individuals with mental illness who are housed in RHUs. There were significant issues found with the adequacy of the BOP’s policies and its implementation efforts in this critical area.
Keywords: people with disabilities, disciplinary segregation, administrative segregation, restrictive housing, restricted housing, segregation, segregated housing, isolation, torture, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), discrimination, segregated housing and mental health