Published on: Friday, July 14, 2017

As of June 2016, of the 148,227 sentenced inmates in the BOP's 122 institutions, 9,749 inmates (7 percent) were housed in its three largest forms of Restrictive Housing Units (RHU): Special Housing Units at 111 institutions; 2 Special Management Units at U.S. Penitentiaries; and the USP Administrative Maximum Security Facility (ADX) in Florence, Colorado. Inmates confined to RHUs were confined to their cells almost 24 hours a day, seven days a week, sometimes for years. According to research and reports, confinement in RHUs, even for relatively short periods of time, can adversely affect inmates' mental health and can be particilarly harmful for inmates with mental illness. At ADX, investigators learned of an inmate with a serious mental illness who had spent about 19 years in RHUs.

The report found that BOP policies do not adequately address the confinement of inmates with mental illnesses in RHUs, and the BOP does not sufficiently track or monitor such inmates. The report also found that mental health staff do not always document inmates' mental disorders, leaving the BOP unable to accurately determine the number of inmates with mental illness and ensure that it is providing appropriate care to them. The report issued 15 recommendations to ensure that inmates, including those with mental illness, are placed in RHUs under conditions of confinement that adhere to specific standards that are applied consistently and sustain appropriate mental health care.

Click here for the report.