Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Inmate suicide and time spent in special disciplinary housing in New York State prison

Inmate suicide and time spent in special disciplinary housing in New York State prison

Way, Bruce B., Donald A. Sawyer, Sharen Barboza, and Robin Nash. “Inmate suicide and time spent in special disciplinary housing in New York State prison.” Psychiatric Services 58, no. 4 (2007): 558-560.

This study examined the number of days that prisoners spent in a special disciplinary housing unit in New York State prison before a suicide occurred. Suicides that occurred between 1993 and 2003 were reviewed. A total of 32 suicides occurred in one-person special housing cells during the 11-year period. Inmates spent a median of 63 days in a special disciplinary housing cell before committing suicide. The aggregate median sentence these inmates were serving in special housing at the time of suicide was 298.5 days. Because most suicides in a special housing unit occurred within eight weeks of placement, enhanced observation of special housing inmates is warranted in that period at a minimum.”

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Keywords: isolation, suicide prevention, psychology, risk, length of stay.