Here are the major findings:
- ADC’s use of solitary is the highest in the U.S. and is almost 4 times the national average.
- Every 3 months, 2,600-3,500 people in ADC prisons are sent to ‘solitary’ and are exposed to its harmful effects.
- Most people believe that only the ‘worst of the worst’ go to solitary confinement, but the truth is that almost all ADC ‘solitary’ placements are for non-violent, minor offenses. Under 10% of infractions resulting in a ‘solitary’ placement are due to violence or a threat of violence.
- 73% of people in solitary confinement have been there more than 6 months and 42% for one year or longer, and some more than 6 years.
- Black men and women and Hispanic women are held in solitary confinement at much higher rates compared to their numbers in the general prison population.
- Solitary confinement creates serious mental illness (SMI) and worsens pre-existing mental illness. Yet, the ADC claims that only 3% of the total ADC prison population has SMI. That is much lower than U.S. Bureau of Justice data: ~50% of people in state prisons report SMI symptoms and ~12% of the U.S. adult non-incarcerated adult population has SMI. This under-recognition of SMI in ADC prisons means people with SMI do not get needed treatment, are more likely to be disciplined with ‘solitary,’ and are likely to have much worse mental health when they leave prison.
- In ADC prisons, suicide attempts and suicides are much more common in solitary than in general housing.
- ADC releases people directly from solitary to the community, posing a serious public safety risk.
- ADC policy allows broad discretion in how solitary may be used as punishment and extended stays of a year or more.
- Programs meant to help people move out of solitary are ineffective. Few people graduate; most remain in solitary.
- The ADC has no strategic plan for reducing its use of solitary confinement.
Earlier, DRA Executive Director Tom Masseau issued the following statement related to Arkansas’s overuse of solitary confinement:
“Solitary confinement is an archaic and grossly overused practice, one which is devastating in its effects on mental health. Its use should be ended immediately. It is shameful that Arkansas leads the nation in the use of solitary confinement. We call on the Arkansas Department of Corrections and policymakers to come together to enhance programs that emphasize rehabilitation in prison settings, and to ban outright the use of solitary confinement.”