Maryland uses segregation/restrictive housing more than the vast majority of other states. In 2018, Maryland ranked 7th out of 43 state prison systems in its use of segregation. In 2018 DPSCS reported that 53% of its prison population spent some time in segregation. IAHR is working with legislators to reform these practices.
#1: DIRECT RELEASE PROHIBITION- LR 1425
A bill to prohibit the direct release of inmates from solitary back to the community
This is a public safety issue. Since 2016, 834 inmates have been released directly from segregation back into the community. They are released ill-prepared to return to the community and bring with them a myriad of public safety and health issues that communities are ill-prepared to address. The psychological effects have the potential to undermine significantly an incarcerated person’s adjustment back to the community to which he or she returns.
This legislation would require the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services to:
- Develop transitional processes for each inmate held in restrictive housing beginning no less than 180 days prior to their anticipated release
- This process shall include but not be limited to
- Re-socialization programming in group settings
- Regular mental health counseling
- Housing assistance, state and federal benefits assistance
- Re-entry planning services and continuum of care/transition referrals
- Additionally, an inmate may not be placed in restrictive housing within six months of a release date, unless the warden (or his designee) makes an individualized determination and certifies in writing, based on clear and convincing evidence, that the placement of the inmate in general population would pose a grave risk of harm to others or the security of the institution and that all other less-restrictive options have been exhausted.
#2: RESTRICTIVE HOUSING REFORM ACT 2019 - LR 2544
This is both a public safety issue and a humanitarian issue
Unless there is clear and convincing evidence that an inmate poses an immediate and substantial risk to the safety and security of the facility, themselves, staff or others, an inmate may not be
Subject to more than fifteen (15) consecutive days or a total of ninety (90) days in restrictive housing in a 1-year period.
- Prior to any placement in Restrictive Housing an inmate shall be afforded:
- Comprehensive mental health evaluation by a multidisciplinary staff committee who shall conduct a comprehensive, face-to-face, out-of-cell mental health evaluation of the inmate in a confidential setting
- De-escalation techniques and opportunities
- Administrative Segregation and Protective Custody are not to be punitive. Inmates are to receive all privileges and opportunities available to general population inmates, and unless a guilty finding is made, such placement is not to be noted in an inmate’s file which could interrupt programming eligibility, parole considerations, security status changes or other opportunities
- Inmates may not be subjected to consecutive charges or sanctions and any sanction imposed that include placement in restrictive housing may not be consecutive
- Inmates may not be placed in disciplinary segregation for non-disciplinary reasons, refusing medical treatment or unless has been ordered by a medical professional
Further IAHR supports requiring DPSCS to:
- Improve conditions of confinement in restrictive housing by allowing opportunities for out-of-cell time and congregate activity, providing daily outdoor recreation time, and creating more opportunities for productive in-cell activities for all inmates in restrictive housing
- Limit the number of violations that are eligible for a disciplinary segregation sanction
- Prohibit segregation sanctions for all minor violations
- Create de-escalation spaces and establish a system that allows people in segregation access to these spaces for a meaningful amount of time
- Create individualized plans for every person entering restrictive housing, with the goal of returning them to general population
- Set clear time limits on the length of each phase in the step-down program to ensure that people in the program are able to progress through the phases and reenter a less-restrictive housing unit
- Amend its policies to specify that disciplinary segregation is a sanction of last resort