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Journal ArticleDOI

The body in isolation: The physical health impacts of incarceration in solitary confinement.

TL;DR: It is found that solitary confinement is associated not just with mental, but also with physical health problems, and given the disproportionate use of solitary among incarcerated people of color, these symptoms are most likely to affect those populations.
Abstract: We examine how solitary confinement correlates with self-reported adverse physical health outcomes, and how such outcomes extend the understanding of the health disparities associated with incarceration. Using a mixed methods approach, we find that solitary confinement is associated not just with mental, but also with physical health problems. Given the disproportionate use of solitary among incarcerated people of color, these symptoms are most likely to affect those populations. Drawing from a random sample of prisoners (n = 106) in long-term solitary confinement in the Washington State Department of Corrections in 2017, we conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews; Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) assessments; and systematic reviews of medical and disciplinary files for these subjects. We also conducted a paper survey of the entire long-term solitary confinement population (n = 225 respondents) and analyzed administrative data for the entire population of prisoners in the state in 2017 (n = 17,943). Results reflect qualitative content and descriptive statistical analysis. BPRS scores reflect clinically significant somatic concerns in 15% of sample. Objective specification of medical conditions is generally elusive, but that, itself, is a highly informative finding. Using subjective reports, we specify and analyze a range of physical symptoms experienced in solitary confinement: (1) skin irritations and weight fluctuation associated with the restrictive conditions of solitary confinement; (2) un-treated and mis-treated chronic conditions associated with the restrictive policies of solitary confinement; (3) musculoskeletal pain exacerbated by both restrictive conditions and policies. Administrative data analyses reveal disproportionate rates of racial/ethnic minorities in solitary confinement. This analysis raises the stakes for future studies to evaluate comparative prevalence of objective medical diagnoses and potential causal mechanisms for the physical symptoms specified here, and for understanding differential use of solitary confinement and its medically harmful sequelae.

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Boyles et al. as discussed by the authors found that the negative perceptions toward police harbored by black communities transcend individual experiences, as residents exchange details with one another about negative interactions with police, and these exchanges develop into frames by which an entire community perceives the police.
Abstract: profiled by their clothing or targeted for hanging out in groups. Over half of the respondents reported being stopped, questioned, and sometimes frisked by police. In these cases, residents explained that police were often disrespectful, rude, insulting, vulgar, and aggressive. In more extreme cases, some respondents reported being maced while cuffed and in custody and even beaten by police. Boyles explains that police harassment and misconduct, violence, and abuse do not happen in a vacuum, nor are they random, isolated occurrences; they are reoccurring events, born out of historical patterns of race and place-based discrimination that shape the ways people look at the world and perceive their choices. Police misconduct does not occur because of lax training or ineffective policies; it happens because police develop perceptions about who lowincome black people are and how they deserve to be treated. Poor black communities are viewed as a threat to the status and guarded privilege of middle-class white communities and must be overseen and controlled through aggressive police tactics. Boyles suggests that the negative perceptions toward police harbored by black communities transcend individual experiences, as residents exchange details with one another about negative interactions with police. Over time, these exchanges develop into frames by which an entire community perceives the police. While Boyles’ analysis of Meacham Park’s collective perceptions and experiences about police (mis)conduct is informative, I found myself craving some investigation of community policing of Kirkwood residents also. While this would alter her research objective, which was to study and give voice to an understudied group—a low-income black suburban community—so much of her research deals with the interrelationship between Meacham Park and Kirkwood. Boyles emphasizes the frequency with which Meacham Park residents are forced to deal with negative police interactions; yet this point could have been stronger if she had interviewed Kirkwood residents about their experiences with the same police force. Her findings would have more impact and resonance if she could show from interviews with Kirkwood residents that perceptions about police conduct diverge along racial lines, further validating the claim that differential treatment of black residents by police is a problem born out of racism and discrimination. This book’s analysis of how a low-income black community’s perceptions of police developed will be valuable for those planning careers in law enforcement and therefore will be very useful in criminal justice courses. Additionally, policy-makers interested in improving community-police cooperation would benefit from the findings of this research.

29 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Research suggests that incarceration exposure increases the prevalence of morbidity and premature mortality as mentioned in this paper, and this work is only beginning to examine whether the stressors of the incarceration experi c...
Abstract: Research suggests that incarceration exposure increases the prevalence of morbidity and premature mortality. This work is only beginning to examine whether the stressors of the incarceration experi...

10 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper found that 11% of solitary confinement is associated with long-lasting psychological harm and poor post-release outcomes and estimated the population prevalence, finding that solitary confinement was a severe form of incarceration.
Abstract: Solitary confinement is a severe form of incarceration closely associated with long-lasting psychological harm and poor post-release outcomes. Estimating the population prevalence, we find that 11%...

8 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
05 Oct 2021-PLOS ONE
TL;DR: In this article, the authors reviewed each state's definition of quarantine and compared them to the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) definition and recommendations for quarantine in jails and prisons.
Abstract: Carceral settings in the United States have been the source of many single site COVID-19 outbreaks. Quarantine is a strategy used to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in correctional settings, and specific quarantine practices differ state to state. To better understand how states are using quarantine in prisons, we reviewed each state's definition of quarantine and compared each state's definition to the Centers for Disease Control's (CDC) definition and recommendations for quarantine in jails and prisons. Most prison systems, 45 of 53, define quarantine, but definitions vary widely. No state published definitions of quarantine that align with all CDC recommendations, and only 9 states provide quarantine data. In these states, the highest recorded quarantine rate occurred in Ohio in May 2020 at 843 per 1,000. It is necessary for prison systems to standardize their definitions of quarantine and to utilize quarantine practices in accordance with CDC recommendations. In addition, data transparency is needed to better understand the use of quarantine and its effectiveness at mitigating COVID-19 outbreaks in carceral settings.

6 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This paper conducted an embedded case study, analyzing changes in policies and procedures, administrative data, and focus groups and interviews with incarcerated persons and staff, to describe the circumstances that led to changes in solitary confinement policies and practices in the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (ND DOCR).
Abstract: Solitary confinement is a widespread practice in US correctional facilities. Long-standing concerns about the physical and mental health effects of solitary confinement have led to litigation, legislation, and community activism resulting in many prison systems introducing policies or implementing legal mandates to reduce or eliminate its use. Yet little is known about the nature and effectiveness of policies that states have adopted to reduce their use of solitary confinement and exactly how various reforms have actually impacted the lives of people living and working in the prisons where these reforms have taken place. METHODS We conducted an embedded case study, analyzing changes in policies and procedures, administrative data, and focus groups and interviews with incarcerated persons and staff, to describe the circumstances that led to changes in solitary confinement policies and practices in the North Dakota Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (ND DOCR) and the perceived impact of these changes on incarcerated persons and prison staff. . RESULTS North Dakota's correctional officials and staff members attributed the impetus to change their solitary confinement policies to their participation in a program that directly exposed them to the Norwegian Correctional Service's philosophy, policies, and practices in 2015. The ensuing policy changes made by North Dakota officials were swift and resulted in a 74.28% reduction in the use of solitary confinement between 2016 and 2020. Additionally, placements in any form of restrictive housing decreased markedly for incarcerated persons with serious mental illness. In the two prisons that had solitary confinement units, rule infractions involving violence decreased at one prison overall and it decreased within the units at both prisons that were previously used for solitary confinement. Although fights and assaults between incarcerated people increased in one of the prison's general population units, during the initial months of reforms, these events continued to decline compared to years before reform. Moreover, incarcerated people and staff attributed the rise to a concomitant worsening of conditions in the general population due to overcrowding, idleness, and double bunking. Both incarcerated persons and staff members reported improvements in their health and well-being, enhanced interactions with one another, and less exposure to violence following the reforms. CONCLUSIONS Immersing correctional leaders in the Norwegian Correctional Service' public health and human rights principles motivated and guided the ND DOCR to pursue policy changes to decrease the use of solitary confinement in their prisons. Ensuing reductions in solitary confinement were experienced as beneficial to the health and wellness of incarcerated persons and staff alike. This case-study describes these policy changes and the perspectives of staff and incarcerated persons about the reforms that were undertaken. Findings have implications for stakeholders seeking to reduce their use of solitary confinement and limit its harmful consequences and underscore the need for research to describe and assess the impact of solitary confinement reforms.

5 citations

References
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Book
01 Jan 2006
TL;DR: K Kathy Charmaz's excellent and practical guide to grounded theory in nursing and how to do qualitative research in nursing is welcomed.
Abstract: An Invitation to Grounded Theory Gathering Rich Data Coding in Grounded Theory Practice Memo-Writing Theoretical Sampling, Saturation and Sorting Reconstructing Theory in Grounded Theory Studies Writing the Draft Reflecting on the Research Process

16,556 citations


"The body in isolation: The physical..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Consistent with the tenets of constructivist grounded theory, coders inductively explored how participants make meaning of their experiences (here: their time in solitary confinement) [63, 64]....

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The evidence for both a widening SES differential in health status and an increasing racial gap in health between blacks and whites due, in part, to the worsening health status of the African American population is described.
Abstract: This chapter reviews recent studies of socioeconomic status (SES) and racial differences in health. It traces patterns of the social distribution of disease over time and describes the evidence for both a widening SES differential in health status and an increasing racial gap in health between blacks and whites due, in part, to the worsening health status of the African American population. We also describe variations in health status within and between other racial populations. The interactions between SES and race are examined, and we explore the link between health inequalities and socioeconomic ineqality both by examing the nature of the SES gradient and by identifying the determinants of the magnitude of SES disparities over time. We consider the ways in which major social structures and processes such as racism, acculturation, work, migration, and childhood SES produce inequalities in health. We also attend to the ways in which other intervening factors and resources are constrained by social structure. Measurement issues are addressed, and implications for health policy and future research are described.

1,735 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Evidence is reviewed that worry, rumination, and anticipatory stress are associated with enhanced cardiovascular, endocrinological, immunological, and neurovisceral activity, suggesting that perseverative cognition might act directly on somatic disease via enhance activation via the cardiovascular, immune, endocrine, and neuroscience systems.

1,342 citations

Book
Bruce Western1
01 Jan 2006

1,166 citations

01 Dec 2016
TL;DR: This article summarized data from several Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) correctional data collections to provide statistics on the total population supervised by adult correctional systems in the United States, and provided a classification of the population in the US.
Abstract: "This report summarizes data from several Bureau of Justice Statistics' (BJS) correctional data collections to provide statistics on the total population supervised by adult correctional systems in the United States."

1,109 citations

Trending Questions (1)
Isolation and confinement on body

The paper discusses how solitary confinement affects both mental and physical health, including symptoms such as skin irritations, weight fluctuation, and musculoskeletal pain.