Correction officials often claim that only the “worst of the worst” are held in segregation – those who pose a threat to prison staff, security, or other prisoners. (Most prisons claim they do not use solitary confinement, and instead have renamed it administrative segregation, or some other more pleasant Orwellian moniker.) While that may be true in some cases, most prisoners are placed in segregation because they are perceived as being “troublemakers” due to their religious or political beliefs, or because they violate minor prison (or jail) rules or exercise their rights by filing grievances and lawsuits. Many inmates are put in segregation because of their sexual preferences, because they are under 18, because they don’t speak English (or Spanish), or because they have mental health issues. Some are in solitary because of political reasons.
According to Senator Patrick Leahy,
“Although solitary confinement was developed as a method for handling highly dangerous prisoners, it is increasingly being used with inmates who do not pose a threat to staff or other inmates. For too often, prisoners today are placed in solitary confinement for minor violations that are disruptive but not violent.”