Center on Sentencing and Corrections

The Ethical Use of Medical Isolation—Not Solitary Confinement–to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission in Correctional Settings

The Ethical Use of Medical Isolation—Not Solitary Confinement–to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission in Correctional Settings

Cloud, David, Dallas Augustine, Cyrus Ahalt, and Brie Williams. “The Ethical Use of Medical Isolation—Not Solitary Confinement–to Reduce COVID-19 Transmission in Correctional Settings.” California: Amend at UCSF, 2020.

“This brief clarifies the differences between ‘medical isolation, ‘quarantine,’ and ‘solitary confinement,’ and describes the services and benefits that corrections officials should provide to people who are separated for medical isolation or quarantine so that they are not subjected to punitive and traumatizing conditions of solitary confinement. It is intended to provide guidance to departments of correction, prison and jail residents, advocates, and other key stakeholders to help ensure that using medical isolation or quarantine to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in correctional facilities follow the highest standards of medical ethics.” Overall, Amend suggests corrections officials operate medical isolation of COVID-19 positive individuals and those showing signs of the illness in a non-punitive and humane matter—to mitigate the effects of social isolation and to avoid deterring people from reporting symptoms to staff.

Click here to read the memo.

Keywords: COVID, coronavirus, WHO, CDC, restrictive housing, health care, public health, restrictive housing, conditions of confinement.