I assumed administrative segregation and solitary confinement were the same thing. Nope. According to a recent investigative article, “Administrative segregation is defined as “maximum custody status … for the purpose of maintaining safety, security and order among general population offenders and correctional officers.” Unlike solitary confinement, in which an offender is punished for infractions by being isolated for a defined period of time, administrative segregation is open-ended, and offenders are reviewed periodically for release back into the general prison population.” But in Texas, ad seg suicides are 40% higher than the general prison population. How can that be?
“Such inmates typically spend 23 hours a day in their 6-by-10-foot single cells. (Some of the cells are as small as 5-by-9.) Most administrative segregation residents are inmates the agency has identified as gang members — “security threat group members,” in prison lingo — who can work their way off the restrictive supervision through a nine-month gang-renunciation program. About 550 offenders are currently enrolled.”
Officials say the average length of stay in maximum custody is just over three years, but a significant number of prisoners remain there for considerably longer. Late last year, when the Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy asked the agency for a list of long-serving administrative segregation residents, it received a spreadsheet showing that at least 100 inmates had been on the restricted status for more than 21 years. One is approaching 28 years.”