More than 4,000 prisoners diagnosed with mental illness throughout the country are being held in solitary lock-up, according to The Guardian.
Confinement intensifies their illness. Despite U.S. prisons having this knowledge, this practice continues, the article said.
“This is tragic,” said Judith Resnik, a professor of law at Yale University. She is the director of the Arthur Liman Center. “Solitary confinement is a disabling setting that is harmful for human health and safety. It can do harm for people who are mentally OK and inflict terrible damage on people who are already mentally ill.”
Yale researchers, along with the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA), revealed that this terrifying experience among prisoners is very prevalent, according to the article.
The ASCA and Yale researchers stated that the mentally impaired are kept in isolation at least 22 hours a day for more than two weeks.
These researchers found that out of the 33 states who responded to their survey, only one state, Texas, said that they have no mental health patients in solitary.
More than a third of the states that replied stated that 10 percent of male prisoners with mental illness are locked-down. Missouri had the highest number, 703 men, while New Mexico had the highest proportion at 64 percent.
Colorado is one of the success stories. The state has new rules in play. When prisoners are diagnosed with mental illnesses they are treated for their illness instead of being confined.
Recently U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor issued an opinion in a case the court declined to hear. She said she was “deeply troubled” by the ongoing practice. She wrote that “solitary confinement imprints on those that it clutches a wide range of psychological scars.”
The amount of time spent in isolation remains high. Spending 22 hours a day in a cell measured 6 feet by 9 feet takes its toll, said the article.
The survey said that the number of mentally ill in lock-up is declining and that since 2014 the segregated population has fallen from 100,000 to 61,000 as of last year.
Progress remains mixed, however, as numbers in 11 states have increased.