Matthew Lowen, Elena Vanko, Stephen Roberts, and Navena Chaitoo. The Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative: Findings, Recommendations, and Reforms for the Nevada Department of Corrections. Report. Center on Sentencing and Corrections, Vera Institute of Justice. 2019.
Throughout the country, advocates, federal and state policymakers, and corrections leaders have called for a dramatic reduction in the use of segregation, also known as solitary confinement or restrictive housing. Whether citing the detrimental psychological and physiological impacts of spending 22-24 hours per day alone and idle in a cell the size of a parking space, the fiscal burden to agencies and potential occupational health hazards to corrections staff of operating such highly restrictive environments, or the fact that the practice can be counterproductive to safety in prisons and the communities to which most incarcerated people will return, these voices collectively agree that bold and sustainable reforms are urgently needed.
The Vera Institute of Justice (Vera) is working to decrease and ultimately end the use of restrictive housing in the United States by partnering with state and local corrections systems to significantly reduce and reform their use of the practice. From 2017-2018, with funding from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Vera’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative partnered with the Nevada Department of Corrections (NDOC) to help the agency better understand and safely reduce its use of segregation. Vera’s assistance included conducting an in-depth assessment of segregation use in NDOC facilities and identifying opportunities for reform and innovation. This report presents the findings and recommendations from Vera’s assessment offering Nevada opportunities and strategies to safely reform this practice.
Keywords: restrictive housing, segregated housing, segregation, disciplinary segregation, administrative segregation, reforms and alternatives, disciplinary policy, transition units, serious mental illness, direct release, bed space, programming