A Profile of the Segregated
The Task Force on Segregation found that segregated prisoners were higher
risk and higher need than non-segregated prisoners. According to the Offender
Intake Assessment Process (a collection of historical and current information
on each offender admitted to a federal correctional institution), segregated
prisoners have been found to be high need in six of the seven need categories
assessed at admission. They are more likely to experience difficulties
than non-segregated offenders in relation to:
- employment (less than grade 10 education; lacking skills, trade,
or profession; unemployed at the time of arrest; unstable job history);
- associates and social interaction (socially isolated; associated
with substance abusers and criminal acquaintances; easily influenced
by others; difficulty in communicating with others);
- substance abuse (abuse of alcohol and drugs at an early age);
- community functioning (unstable accommodations; financial difficulties);
- personal and emotional orientation (cognition problems; hostility;
poor conflict resolution skills; low frustration tolerance; thrill-seeking)
- attitude (negative attitudes towards criminal justice system; pro-criminal
attitudes; disrespectful and lacking direction; non-conforming).
The paradox emerges that the regime and conditions in segregation units
are peculiarly well suited to aggravate and even intensify these characteristics.
Where else in the prison system can a prisoner who is socially isolated
feel even more isolated? Where else can a prisoner with cognition problems,
poor conflict resolution skills and a low frustration tolerance experience
conditions in which these are put to the most severe test on a daily basis?
Where can a prisoner with a negative attitude towards the criminal justice
system find more reinforcement for that attitude than in a segregation
cell, in which, locked up for twenty-three hours a day, he is able to
focus unwaveringly on his treatment?
The measure of justice accorded prisoners in segregation must not only
reflect the fact that segregation is the most intrusive form of imprisonment
but also demonstrate the legitimacy of state authority to prisoners for
whom that legitimacy is severely compromised.
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