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Reshaping Restrictive Housing at South Dakota State Penitentiary

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2015
28 pages
This report explains how the South Dakota Department of Corrections reshaped its approach to restrictive housing (also known as administrative segregation or solitary confinement) to achieve an 18-percent reduction in its restrictive housing population and an associated decline in its violent incident rate to its lowest point.
The current push by courts, policymakers, and the public to reduce the use of restrictive housing in correctional facilities is due to research that has shown the potentially damaging effects of such segregation on a person's physical and mental health, public-safety risks posed by the criminogenic influences of restrictive housing on inmates subsequently released into the community, and the subjective criteria often used in deciding which inmates should be subjected to restrictive housing. In addressing the issue of restrictive housing, the South Dakota Department of Corrections and the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) collaborated under funding from the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance. The model implemented by CJI involves four components. One component is the use of fair and objective procedures in deciding that restrictive housing is an appropriate placement. A second component is the planning and monitoring of an inmate's activities and interactions in restrictive housing to ensure they are contributing to constructive behavioral change. A third component is the preparation of inmates in restrictive housing for their transition into the general prison population. The fourth component of the CJI model is the development and monitoring of the procedures for retaining or releasing inmates in restrictive housing to ensure they are fair, objective, and based on behavioral indicators. Results are shown for the model's impact after 1 year of operation. 4 tables and 2 figures