Stop Solitary

It is time for Massachusetts to reform its antiquated and ineffective solitary confinement practices that are costly, counter to current evidence-based practices, damaging rather than rehabilitative in nature, and detrimental to successful reentry.

Voluminous research substantiating the damaging effects of solitary confinement is leading states across the country to pass reforms aimed at reducing costs, reducing the harm to individuals placed in solitary confinement, and reducing the negative impact that overuse of segregation can have on communities. These states have reported major cost savings in the millions per year while enhancing public safety. A recent study by the DOC’s own mental health contractor, MHM Services, Inc., found that when prisoners are removed from solitary confinement and given rehabilitative programming, their self-harm, assaultive, and other disruptive behaviors decrease.

Unfortunately, solitary is a widely used practice in Massachusetts. In fact, Massachusetts is one of only a handful of states that allows prisoners to spend up to 10 consecutive years in solitary confinement for each disciplinary infraction in a unit called the Departmental Disciplinary Unit (DDU). Black and Latino prisoners represent 70% of people in this unit, which is the harshest solitary unit in our state.

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