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-HB 1002
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 - HB 1029
This is both a public safety issue and a humanitarian issue.
HB 1029 Defines “serious mental illness" (SMI)
HB 1029 Defines “significant functional impairment" (SFI)
AN INMATE WHO HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED UNDER SMI SHALL NOT BE PLACED IN RESTRICTIVE HOUSING:
- Except in LIMITED exigent circumstances and when reasonable alternatives are not available AND there is an actual threat of imminent harm: OR
- If medically necessary as determined by a medical professional AND the inmate is in a clinically designated and supervised area
- Absent compelling circumstances, an individual with SMI shall not be in restrictive housing for more than 15 days
- An individual with SMI in restrictive housing shall be provided weekly physical and mental health reviews to determine if they may be released from restrictive housing
- There will be timely, thorough and continuous reviews that occur within 3 days after placement in restrictive housing and EVERY 3 DAYS after placement to confirm the continued existence of the basis for the placement.