The Long-Term Effects of Solitary Confinement From the Perspective of Inmates

AuthorTomer Einat,Anat Yaron Antar,Liat Tayer
Published date01 December 2021
Date01 December 2021
Subject MatterArticles
The Long-Term Effects
of Solitary Connement
From the Perspective
of Inmates
Liat Tayer
, Tomer Einat
and Anat Yaron Antar
This qualitative study analyzes the effects of solitary connement on prison-
ers and the strategies used by them to cope with its difculties. The ndings
indicate that solitary connement is perceived as unfair and as intensifying
hostile emotions and physical aggression, and that it is related to a range
of long-term physiological, mental, and behavioral disorders. Three strategies
are used to cope with the difculties of solitary connement: keeping to a
ritualistic routine, a religious lifestyle, and physical exercise. We conclude
that solitary connement exacerbates the difculties of detention and affects
prisonershealth and well-being for short and long terms.
solitary connement, separation, long-term effects, coping strategies, inmates
Bar Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
The Max Stern Yezreel Valley College, Emek Yezreel, Israel
Corresponding Author:
Liat Tayer, Bar Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel.
Tomer Einat, Bar Ilan University, Department of Criminology, Building 213, Room 437,
Ramat-Gan, 5920002, Israel.
The Prison Journal
2021, Vol. 101(6) 652674
© 2021 SAGE Publications
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00328855211060312
Worldwide, hundreds and thousands of incarcerated individuals are held in
conditions of solitary connement or segregation, whether in order to
protect their own health and safety, to protect others from them, or as a
form of punishment (Butler et al., 2013). In the United States alone, there
are an estimated number of 61,000 inmates in solitary connement (Resnik
et al., 2018). They are kept apart from the rest of the inmate population,
usually isolated in their cells for periods of 2224 h, and not included in
prison therapy, rehabilitation, educational, and occupational programming
(Shalev, 2008). This state of affairs occurs regardless of numerous studies
indicating solitary connements harsh negative impact on inmatesmental
and physical health (Haney, 2019; Kysel, 2012; Reiter et al., 2020).
The Israel Prison Service (IPS) uses solitary connement, with a clear dif-
ferentiation between two mechanisms, according to the reasons for taking that
extreme measure. Isolation (Segregation) is used as punishment, with the
inmate held alone in his cell for the entire day, up to seven consecutive
days, for certain disciplinary violations. A segregated inmate is not allowed
to go out on the daily walk and is also prevented from such privileges as
smoking and receiving visitors (Israel Prison Service, 2012). Separation is
imposed as a preventive measure justied in terms of prison safety, national
security, protecting the safety of the inmate and/or others, preventing substan-
tial damage to the prison discipline and routine, and preventing felonies
related to violence, organized crime, and drug deals (Israel Prison Service,
2013). Separated inmates are usually held alone in a cell (individual separa-
tion), and sometimes together with one or more incarcerees of the same
status, with signicant restrictions on their movements and interactions
with their surroundings, and excluding them from the prisons occupational
and rehabilitation services. They may leave their cells to the yard for a
maximum of 2 h a day, accompanied by a correctional ofcer, and sometimes
with their hands and feet cuffed (Public DefendersOfce (PDO), 2019).
The decision on individual separation of a prisoner in Israel is made by the
IPS. Nevertheless, six months after an inmate is thus separated,if the IPS seeks
to extend the separation, this requires a decision by a district court.This court
may prolong the separation for no longer than six additional months, and
the procedure must be reinitiated every six months. Consequently, subject
to court discretion, a prisoner may in fact be held in individual separation
for the entire duration of his/her sentence, even if it is for many years
(Prison Order [New Version], 1971).
Despite the use of solitary connement in penitentiary systems globally,
many studies point to its ineffectiveness in reducing prison violence, or in
Tayer et al. 653

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