Tag Archive: Economics

Under Fire, the Federal Bureau of Prisons Audits Its Use of Solitary Confinement—and Buys a New Supermax Prison

Solitary confinement cells at ADX Florence, the federal supermax in Colorado.

Solitary confinement cells at ADX Florence, the federal supermax in Colorado.

From Solitary Watch

Amidst growing criticism of its abundant use solitary confinement, the federal Bureau of Prisons has quietly set in motion an “internal audit” to review its “restricted housing operations.” The audit, which has been contracted out to a Washington think tank and will be conducted largely by former corrections officials, seems unlikely to bring any dramatic change to the lives of the more than 12,000 people being held in isolation in the federal prison system. Meanwhile, the federal government has completed purchase of a prison meant to house still more isolation cells.

The audit fulfils a pledge made by BOP director Charles Samuels last year, following Congress’s first and so far only hearing into solitary confinement. At that hearing, convened by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee chaired by Illinois Senator Dick Durbin, Samuels acknowledged under questioning that he didn’t know how many people with mental illness were in isolation in federal prisons, and was short on details about the BOP’s use of solitary confinement.

Since that time, controversy surrounding the BOP’s use of solitary has only grown. Current lawsuits are challenging the treatment of individuals with mental illness at ADX Florence, the notorious federal supermax prison in Colorado. Increased media coverage of ADX has uncovered horror stories of psychotic prisoners who gouge holes in their own flesh or eat their own feces, along with at least one suicide. (more…)