Center on Sentencing and Corrections

The Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prisoners in Supermax Units: Reviewing What We Know and Recommending What Should Change

The Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prisoners in Supermax Units: Reviewing What We Know and Recommending What Should Change

Arrigo, Bruce A., and Jennifer Leslie Bullock. “The Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement on Prisoners in Supermax Units: Reviewing What We Know and Recommending What Should Change.” International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology 52, no. 6 (December 2008): 622-40.

This article examines the effects of solitary confinement on people confined in disciplinary or administrative segregation in the United States, with a particular focus on maximum-security units, also known as supermax or control housing units. The article begins with an exploration of historical and legal considerations related to solitary confinement in U.S. prisons before analyzing how both long- and short-term segregation affect people, noting the vulnerability of people with mental illness as well as race, class, and gender disparities in the segregated population. The article concludes with recommendations for segregation reform.

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Keywords: solitary confinement, segregation, administrative segregation, restricted housing, mental illness, isolation, discrimination

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