Anna: My name is Anna Guy, and I'm a staff attorney with Disability Rights Washington. The segregation report was a project of the Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities, or AVID Prison Project of Disability Rights Washington, and we wrote the report to address the crisis of the concentration of inmates with mental illness in segregation nationwide.
Over twenty states submitted case examples. Segregation is sometimes called isolated confinement, solitary confinement, but generally, particularly for the purposes of this report we're referring to segregation as the isolated confinement for 22 to 24 hours a day, in a small cell with reduced amount of meaningful access to treatment and human interaction and programming.
To collect information for this report, the Protection and Advocacy agencies sent out their attorneys and advocates as well as videographers and photographers to capture footage of the conditions that people with mental illness and segregation are living in as well as record interviews with inmates and staff.
There are a lot of bad things that can happen in segregation. Research shows that segregation is psychologically harmful for folks and can exacerbate symptoms of mental illness. As people to compensate, they can self-harm, they can attempt suicide and they have a harder time following rules and conforming to the prison norms which result in prolonged stays in isolation or repeated stays in isolation, or even longer prison terms.
People forget that the vast majority of folks that enter prison are going to re-enter the community again. The intent of the report was really to raise awareness about the issue, but also to inject the disability perspective into the conversation about prison reform, and more specifically segregation reform as it's being discussed nationally. The report concludes with recommendations for both national and state action that can be taken to remedy this issue and address this crisis.
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The AVID Prison Project is a collaboration between The Arizona Center for Disability Law, Disability Law Colorado, The Advocacy Center of Louisiana, Disability Rights New York, Protection and Advocacy for People with Disabilities of South Carolina, Disability Rights Texas, Disability Rights Washington and The National Disability Rights Network.