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Psychological distress among inmates is prevalent in correctional facilities throughout the United States. Although, according to Haney (2003), severe isolation of incarcerates has been commonplace in prisons since their inception, the use of secure housing units (SHU) and the development of ‘supermax’ prisons are becoming increasingly utilized within the last several decades. Legislators have expressed the need to increase punitive measures against delinquents in response to the rising prison population (Arrigo and Bullock 2008). Thus harsher crime control policies, such as administrative and disciplinary segregation, have been established in order to limit the personal freedoms of prisoners (Arrigo and Bullock 2008). Within these institutions, inmates are increasingly subjected to solitary confinement, a method of incarceration characterized by “the confinement of a prisoner in isolation with limited chance for social interaction or environmental stimulus” (The Psychology of Cruelty 2015). Theories surrounding the use of solitary confinement emphasize its potential to deter future misconduct among inmates (Morris 2015); however, little attention has been given to the potential psychological effects of long-term segregation. In response, this paper seeks to examine the exacerbating and detrimental psychological effects experienced by inmates subjected to solitary confinement in the United States.



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