Should Prisons Use Isolation to Retaliate?

prison isolateThe Tacoma News Tribune is reporting that the ACLU and Columbia Legal Services have dropped a lawsuit alleging that solitary confinement was used to retaliate against a hunger strike at the Northwest Detention Center.

The article says that the lawsuit was ended after “the release of about two dozen detainees from isolation.” ICE spokesman Andrew Munoz was quoted saying, “ICE is committed to a civil detention system where the safety, health and welfare of both the detention staff and the detainees are of primary concern . . . The placement of detainees in segregated housing was a serious step that came after careful consideration of alternatives, and was deemed necessary in light of reports of detainee-on-detainee intimidation and an escalation in disruptive behavior. ICE’s use of segregation was necessary and in compliance with applicable detention standards.”

The use of isolation cells or segregation units as a substitute for good correctional practices continues to raise concerns regarding the proper non-discriminatory use of these tactics, the mental and psychological impact those practices may have, and how to properly reintegrate the detainees following their release.

Segregation and isolation practices are a necessary component of a good correctional system when used properly, however, the improper use of isolation cells can have a devastating impact on the psychological well-being of detainees.  Implementing practices that do not denigrate the psychological well-being of detainees is critical to the rehabilitation process and the public safety once these detainees are eventually released to the streets.

If you have questions about detention, segregation or isolation practices, contract the attorneys at Bryan and Terrill, 918-935-2777.