THE FACTS: HOW SOLITARY CONFINEMENT HURTS RHODE ISLAND

1. SOLITARY CONFINEMENT DOESN'T ALIGN WITH MODERN CORRECTIONAL PRACTICES

OUR LEGISLATION:

  • We have submitted a piece of legislation, The Restrictive Housing Act, that would end the use of long-term solitary confinement in Rhode Island, and redefine restrictive housing practices at the ACI. It is also our first step in a long-term mission to close Rhode Island's supermax facility. Learn more here.

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Even RIDOC Director Coyne-Fague knowswhen considering modern correctional practices, "keeping people in cells 23 hours a day is not the way to go." Yet RIDOC continues this harmful practice.

  • Solitary confinement takes a toll on anyone's body and mind, but it is especially harmful for individuals with severe and persistent mental illness (SPMI)

    • In the final report of the RI Solitary Confinement Study Commission in 2017, RIDOC pledged to exclude individuals who have SPMI from restrictive housing, recognizing the significant negative impact 

    • Yet individuals who are mentally ill continue to be placed in solitary confinement, rather than receiving rehabilitative treatment

    • Disability Rights Rhode Island sued the RI Department of Corrections for keeping individuals with SPMI in solitary confinement in 2019. The lawsuit is ongoing. 

  • Many other states have closed their supermax prisons and safely reduced their use of solitary confinement 

    • Illinois closed Tamms, the state's only supermax prison, in 2013

    • Mississippi moved all 1,000 prisoners out of its sole supermax facility between 2007 and 2010

    • Colorado closed one supermax prison, eliminated long-term solitary confinement, and launched a well-regarded and highly successful 12-week gang disengagement program

    • Maine decreased its solitary confinement population through step-down programs 

    • North Dakota, which only has three prison facilities, reformed its solitary confinement practices

    • In 2019, 12 states passed legislation to reform solitary confinement

2. IT IS A WASTE OF MONEY

  • High Side, the supermax building, is RIDOC's most expensive facility, costing $195,000 per prisoner per year, compared to $82,000 per prisoner in Maximum Security in FY 2019

  • The facility is three times more expensive than a comparable facility in Massachusetts

Governor Raimondo's Fiscal Year 2021 Budget Proposal on High Security recommends moving 24 High Security residents out of state to save money, moving them away from their loved ones without making any critical structural changes to the building or addressing the harm of solitary confinement.

3. LONG TERM SOLITARY CONFINEMENT MAKES PRISONS LESS SAFE