Over the past four decades, prisons across the country have increasingly relied on solitary confinement—isolating prisoners in small poorly-lit cells for 23-24 hours per day—as a disciplinary tool for prisoners who are difficult to manage in the general population. But research has shown that these conditions cause serious mental deterioration and illness. When these prisoners are eventually released from solitary confinement, they have difficulties integrating into the general prison population into life on the outside.
Because of this, human rights advocates across the country are engaged in a campaign to reduce the use of solitary confinement and to improve conditions in solitary units and facilities. Maine has been one of the success stories of this effort.
This report documents those efforts in hopes of inspiring other prison reform advocates with Maine’s example.