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Solitary Confinement In Texas Prisons


  A report released by the Texas Civil Rights Project and American Civil Liberties Union says Texas is holding too many of its prison inmates in solitary confinement and the practice is detrimental to the prisoners, corrections officers and communities where the inmates are released.

Over an eight-month period, lawyers and fellows from the Texas Civil Rights Project and ACLU interviewed 147 people in solitary confinement, called administrative segregation or Ad Seg.  They also collected data, reviewed other states’ practices, consulted with security and psychiatric experts, and interviewed correctional officers.

According to the civil rights groups' findings, prisoners placed in solitary confinement remain there for nearly four years, more than 100 inmates have been in solitary for more than 20 years and the living conditions "impose such severe deprivation that they leave prison mentally damaged."

“We think it’s time for the legislature to recognize that the over use of solitary confinement is both inhumane and ultimately presents a public safety problem because 95 percent of people in prison return to Texas communities one day and the way we treat them in prison ultimately has public safety consequences,” said Burke Butler, an attorney who co-authored the report.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice reports as of December there are about 6500 inmates in Ad Seg, down from about 9,500 in 2006.

The TDCJ is employing several strategies designed to reduce the Ad Seg population consistent with the priority placed on safety and security.

You can read the entire report, A Solitary Failure: The Waste, Cost and Harm of Solitary Confinement in Texas by clicking the link below.


Steve joined the Texas Public Radio news team in 2009, and serves as TPR's Assistant News Director and afternoon anchor. You can hear him Monday-Friday from 3-7pm on KSTX 89.1 FM. Steve is a veteran of radio news in South Texas, having worked for commercial stations in the San Antonio area since the late 1980s.