Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Overuse of solitary confinement endangers public safety

Dianna Muldrow of the Texas Public Policy Foundation has an op ed in the Austin Statesman (March 10) calling on Texas to reduce its use of solitary confinement. The column concluded:
The current practices surrounding solitary confinement are failing everyone. Inmates are made more dangerous and then often released right back into the communities. Security in prisons is lowered at an increased cost to taxpayers. Policies in correctional facilities need to be significantly altered.

Cages come with a cost, and this cage costs everyone.
And here are a few notable data points with which she backed up the argument:
solitary has become drastically overused by the Texas system. In other states, inmates in solitary confinement account for 1 or 2 percent of the incarcerated population. In Texas they account for 4.4 percent, many of them with mental disorders.

This number raises serious safety concerns. In 2013, more than 1,000 inmates in Texas were released back into the community directly from solitary confinement. Research has proven that inmates who are released directly from solitary confinement are 35 percent more likely to reoffend. This significantly increases their danger to communities.

Even if an inmate in solitary is not violent or threatening to begin with, time spent in solitary, which involves 23 hours in a cell with no stimulation, can increase that danger. Thousands of inmates sent to solitary confinement in Texas are already suffering from mental disorders. Research demonstrates the dangers of solitary on the mentally ill, but it only requires common sense to realize that restricting someone who is already disturbed to what is essentially a box for months will exacerbate their condition.

Additionally, the argument that solitary is only being used to increase institutional and public safety does not hold up. Mississippi has managed to substantially lower their solitary population, while seeing a decrease in prison violence and the rate of recidivism upon release. Additionally it is estimated that if Texas lowered their solitary incarceration rate to Mississippi’s 1.4 percent, they would save taxpayers $31 million a year.


sunray's wench said...

Maybe that piece needs to be edited so that it starts with "Do you want to save up to $31 million a year?"

Might get more attention than leaving it to the last sentence.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of liberal b.s. If anything some of these solitary gang bangers just need longer sentences. I'm sure all of these statistics will make the poor old general population inmates feel a hell of lot safer when these MS-13, Texas Syndicate, AB's and other violent sociopaths start getting kindly "reintegrated" back into GP.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"liberal b.s."

The author of the quoted column works for the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation.

Also, Mississippi reformed their solitary rules and they're not particularly known as a liberal bastion.

sunray's wench said...

There are plenty of inmates in solitary in TDCJ who have nothing to do with gangs.

Anonymous said...

According to the Mississippi Department of Corrections web site, their home page, and the link marked Institutions-State Prisons, the first line states, and I quote, "There are three state prisons in Mississippi." Those three prisons, all together, have a maximum capacity of 11,595 inmates. In Anderson County there are four state prisons not counting the Gurney Unit because it is a transfer facility, so that is Beto, Coffield, Michael and Powledge. According to the TDCJ web site, Beto has a capacity of 3,471, Coffield 4,139, Michael 3,305 and Powledge 1,137 for a total capacity of 12,052 convicted TDCJ-CID felons in Anderson County, not counting the Gurney Unit. So comparing Mississippi to Texas is not a fair comparison. They have three state prisons per their web site and Texas has 49 units typed as prisons per the column "Type" on the Unit Directory page on their web site. A fair comparison is the State of Mississippi to Anderson County, Texas. These are not numbers that can or should be manipulated by statisticians. These are people. Many who have proven in the past that they are dangerous. Many of who are confirmed members of dangerous gangs that have proven how dangerous they are in the past. Of the four units referenced, Coffield, Powledge and Michael have segregation housing and there are inmates lined up trying to get assigned to segregation. Do some research. Get down there in the 100' heat wearing a thrust vest because these inmates are not dangerous and need to be let out into GP. I know of an inmate who was released this year directly from Seg to the streets of a major metropolitan city in Texas. He was in Seg because he was a confirmed member of the AB. He was in Seg because he had a bad habit of throwing feces, urine and other bodily fluids at other offenders who were of a race other than white. He was disciplined for assaulting these offenders but did not receive more time because that is not against the law. If he had been let out of Seg, the other offenders would have killed him. He completed his sentence day for day and the state had to let him go. The prison system was in a no win situation, they release him to GP to reintegrate him, they fail because he gets hurt or worse. They keep him in, people in Austin write scathing op eds about how mean the prison system is. Speaking of Mississippi, take a look at what happened to the head of their prison system who is facing federal charges of bribery after actions he took last year. I do not think we want to be like Mississippi. The administration of the Texas prison system knows that this is a hot topic and is working on plans and initiatives to release inmates from Seg, but they know that if something goes wrong, whoever made the decision will have to face the music. Kenneth Allen McDuff. Those of us in this industry and who have seen the violence are afraid of this. We don't want another McDuff. We do not want to stand in Sacremento, Austin or Washington answering questions as to why inmate so and so was murdered by someone our new plan released from Ad Seg. Inmates in Seg are not there because they were singing loud in the choir. They are there because they have the propensity of being dangerous. They should be examined individually and the determination made on whether or not to let them out, which is what the Texas prison system is doing.

12 & 12

Gritsforbreakfast said...

5:45 wrote, "They should be examined individually and the determination made on whether or not to let them out, which is what the Texas prison system is doing."

Wrong, that's what Mississippi is doing. Texas is doing the opposite.

Also, Mississippi's ad seg population was expressed as a PERCENTAGE. It's irrelevant that their system is smaller than ours, the issue is the proportion of offenders requiring isolation, which there's no reason to think would be that dramatically different if Texas were truly evaluating prisoners individually (instead of categorically) like Mississippi does.

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of conservative b.s. 5:33 / 5:45/ Just because you wear a grey uniform doesn't mean you know it all. know it all. If you said all of that under your real name I'd probably come punch your ticket so all of the other clip boarders would ask you how you got your fat lip? You'd have to reply - talking shit.

I was there and call bullshit on your pile of crap speech. I weighed in at 120 pounds fully clothed and that's including a pocket full of change. Guess where you fucks in power put lil people? That's right jerkweed, with great big ass but pirates. For those of us that didn't want to lose our manhood, we had two choices. Kill the mutherfucker or run to the guard. If you killed him you were transferred, if you failed you were sent to the hole. If you didn't fight back and told a guard, they'd take you to the infirmary to ask you if you wanted to file charges and then throw you in ad seg. Ad seg is another name for cross gender, gays and those that don't fight, and it's usually across the hall from the but pirate.

I wasn't in a gang in the free world and wasn't in one in the pen but I witnessed a couple being born out sheer necessity one house over. If you wanted to get out alive with your manhood, you ganged up or stood alone. When those charged with protecting you from harming yourself and others fail, you must defend yourself. If you fail to that equates to allowing yourself to get fucked in the ass, strong armed or reduced to cleaning his house and underwear.

I taught a very dirty form of self defense (that my dad taught me and the very reason that I left with what I brought) to the smallest inmates within minutes of them being thrown in with the 100 plus inmates. The guards must have had a running pool on win, lose or draw. Those that utilized it, put big butt pirates out of commission and were left alone from then on, those that failed, failed and were moved across the hall.

Those that were thrown in the hole for years on end were so messed up upon release that it should be a crime in it's self to over punish. Those that can't play nice and throw piss and shit should be housed with other piss and shit throwers. Butt pirates and gays should be housed together. Those with under 10 years should be housed with other short timers. Those with life should live with lifers.

Ad seg should be used only on those that request it and solitary confinement should used on those that deserve it and when they earn the right to be housed with others, they should be housed with others that have been in Solitary and earned the right to live with others.

Now, get off the commissary computer and get back to work fatty.

Anonymous said...

To Grits' Response to 0545,

Contact Jason Clark and ask him about the program at Hughes, the GRAD program, the review by the warden's of every single inmate assigned to Seg. You do not know what Texas is doing because you have not done any research.

About Mississippi, here is a link. Epps is a great guy, just misunderstood..

By the way, Texas panders to ACA. Makes you wonder where all of that money is going...

Another link...

Wonder where those inmates that are causing all the trouble came from? Possibly ex Seg inmates? Wonder what they did with all of them single cells? Nah, this guy who crusaded the release of Seg inmates in the great and wonderful state of Mississippi would never do anything wrong...He is just misunderstood. I mean he saved the great State of Mississippi all of that money by releasing those inmates from Seg, yet he is facing bribery charges. Looks to me that he saved the state money in order to keep his job so that he could make money.

No, there are no bills or legislation, but like I said earlier, ask and find out if Texas prison leaders are responding.

Yes, the numbers are a percentage, but as when Texas released McDuff because he fell into a percentage that they had decided should be released and he went rampaging, raping and murdering through Central Texas, how is the prison administration going to explain that to the family of the guy doing two years for DWI who is murdered by the ex seg inmate who the percentages said release? How is the state paying that family in a law suit settlement saving Joe Taxpayer money? Who is responsible when something goes wrong? Not the bloggers, not the ACLU. The men and women wearing the grey and their administrators who made the decisions, just like with McDuff.

They are people, not numbers, not percentages. People with violent histories. People with bad decision making skills. Violent people. You can talk percentages all you want, but until you walk the runs, as the administrators have who are making these hard decisions and review the files, as the administrators are doing, and wrestle with decisions you have been told to make to lower the numbers in Texas Seg, you should research and ask questions rather than assume the Texas prison system is sitting on their hands while the uninformed public bangs their pots and pans demanding something happens that is not in the best interest of the public. And by public I mean the other inmates and the members of the public working inside the fences such as the officers, the medical staff and the clerical staff as well as the other inmates.

12 & 12

Anonymous said...

As Ad Seg usage increased in Texas so have several other things:

1). Serious staff assaults.
2). Use of force.
3). Assaults on staff with bodily fluids.

Ad seg is necessary, but does not always increase the safety of staff. Forced reduction in ad seg population is dangerous and should be reduced by other means. HB 1855 is a proactive way to reduce the ad seg population and decrease staff assaults. Giving new officers Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) is a proven solution to reducing staff assaults, reducing the need for usage of ad seg.

San Antonio has implement CIT training and Harris County is in the process of it. San Antonio has saved millions and reduced officer assaults. The State of Indiana reduced officer assaults by over 40% in a facility where CIT training was require for staff. HB 1855 increases correctional officer professional training and is not only supported by the officers, but those on the right and left. TDCJ administration hates legislative mandates and sometimes needs to be reminded that there are proactive ways to reduce the use of ad seg. TDCJ is not doing everything in their power to proactivily reduce ad seg usage and legislative action will be required.

Anonymous said...

I'm a former prisoner. I did a little time at The Walls unit with in the past two years. The "rec yard" is the central court yard at the unit. One day while at walking laps at rec, five guards brought a guy out of Ad Seg, in handcuffs (with the box thing), ankle cuffs that were chained to his waist and even a anti-spit face guard. They were taking him up to the front of the unit to get discharged. Just think about that! My case was fairly minor/non violent and this shocked me that this guy would be thrust back in society in his condition. By the way, thanks to the tax payers for my $142,000 stay in prison for a non-violent, non-victim crime, your money was well spent!