Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Northwestern University
- Three distinct types of segregation exist: administrative segregation, disciplinary segregation and protective custody.
- There is little agreement among the research community regarding the short-term and long-term effects of segregation.
- There is growing concern about administrative segregation practices, particularly those involving long-term solitary confinement. There is increasing support for reducing the use of segregation.
In the article, “Administrative Segregation in U.S. Prisons,” Frost examines the various types of segregation in U.S prisons and their short-term and long-term effects on offenders. Frost discusses previous studies on the subject and notes there is a) very little research on the topic, and b) conclusions of the research vary depending on the population studied. Frost finds that while, “The primary purpose of segregation or solitary confinement is to separate and isolate an inmate, or certain groups of inmates, from the general population for reasons mainly centered on security and safety within the facility or across the correctional system,” many researchers agree that lasting and substantial damaging psychological effects often result. Frost concludes that additional research must be conducted on the subject and the most important of that research is that which can lead to a “substantial reduction in the need for solitary confinement through administrative segregation.”