Arkansas Holds Highest Percentage Of Inmates In Isolation Nationwide

Sep 4, 2015

Credit Arkansas Department of Correction

Arkansas has the highest percentage of male inmates in solitary confinement in the country according to a new report.

The state is a member of the national Association of State Correctional Administrators, which spoke out against solitary confinement Wednesday, in a shift against the practice. 

According to the report published by the Yale School of Law and the Association of State Correctional Administrators 7.5 percent of the Arkansas’s nearly 14,000 male inmates are held in “administrative segregation,” or in isolation, for 22 to 23 hours a day for 30 days or more. 

Department of Correction spokeswoman Cathy Frye said there are various reasons for isolating inmates.

“That could be due to punitive reasons, it could be because someone is a serious escape risk, or a predator, and so they are assigned there for a longer period of time,” she said. 

According to Frye, other inmates are kept alone for protection, or if they don't want to be housed with the general population. 

Inmates in solitary confinement are allowed visitors, calls, showers and exercise. More restrictive measures are taken with inmates who are there as a form of punishment for serious offenses. They are isolated for 23 hours a day.

“They get three showers a week, so they are out of their cells at that point. But it really kind of is up to the unit and the warden,” she said.

An estimated 80,000 to 100,000 men were held in solitary confinement in the U.S. in 2014, not including local jails, immigration or military detention, and juvenile facilities.

The report's authors said they began research in 2012 because of a dearth of data about solitary confinement in the United States. 

Read the ADC's administrative segregation policy here.

*Chris Hickey contributed to reporting for this story.