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In the past ten years administrative segregation has gained nationwide prominence as a serious correctional mental health concern. In Texas administrative segregation equates to a form of long term isolated custody for offenders deemed dangerous to other offenders, staff, or themselves—in other words, long term or extended solitary confinement of an individual in prison.
Inmates held in administrative segregation are kept in a cell for up to 23 hours a day, and are ineligible for programmatic activity, training, visits, rehabilitative services and other activities experienced by the general population. In the past twenty years wide scale use of administrative segregation and solitary confinement in the U.S. has become a growing phenomenon.
The use of the practice is linked to an increase in the use of supermax prisons across the country. The U.S. holds more than twenty-five thousand inmates in isolation in supermax prisons. Of all the states in the U.S., Texas upholds the second highest administrative segregation population, with the average length of stay lasting more than 3 years. 
The rise of administrative segregation began in the 1990’s as a response to the country’s gang violence problem, yet many studies now indicate an overuse of and negative side effects of prolonged isolation. A particular focus is the potential and realized destructive effects of long-term segregation on the mental health of inmates.
A 2010 study conducted by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) indicates that a large number of adult consumers at DSHS-funded community mental health centers in FYs 2007, 2008, and 2009 reported criminal justice involvement. Similarly a large number of people in the TDCJ system who were in prison, on parole, or on probation were also current or former consumers of the state-funded mental health system. 
Mental health research states the effects of extended solitary confinement are especially harmful for incarcerated individuals with mental illness. Furthermore, research by Stuart Grassian showed that in one sample of 200 inmates in administrative segregation, one-third became psychotic as a result of their solitary confinement. In FY 2011, more than 25% of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) inmates in administrative segregation had been diagnosed with a mental health or intellectual disability. 
With Texas’ growing population of inmates with mental health conditions, there is a significant public safety concern related to releasing inmates directly from administrative segregation into the free community. Often inmates leave administrative segregation unprepared to re-enter society, leaving local communities and resources strained.
Other states, such as Mississippi, are tackling the issue of prolonged solitary confinement through specific reforms to the administrative segregation process. Advocates nationwide are asking decision makers to reform prolonged solitary confinement practices. The National Religious Campaign Against Torture equates solitary confinement to torture, stating “prolonged solitary confinement destroys prisoners’ minds, denies the opportunity for community, and violates the inherent, God-given dignity and worth of every person.”The American Bar Association Standards for Treatment of Prisoners says, “no prisoner diagnosed with serious mental illness should be placed in long term segregated housing.”
Arguments supporting administrative segregation cite the practice prevents violence and acts as a punitive measure within the system. Undeniably, there is a great need for safety within Texas’ criminal justice system, but many advocates and organizations agree that reforms to administrative segregation in Texas are sorely needed.
Proposed legislation in the 82nd Legislature, HB 3764 by Rep. Marisa Marquez, would have directed TDCJ to produce a yearly report to the Legislature on the use of administrative segregation in the Texas prison system and to institute a plan to improve the nature of confinement in administrative segregation. Some requirements of the report would have included documentation of the number of inmates in the general prison population who were referred to mental health professionals, the reasons for the referrals, the number of documented suicide attempts by inmates confined in administrative segregation and those in the general population, and recidivism rates for inmates who were confined in administrative segregation immediately before the inmates' release from the department among other data collections.
While the legislation did not pass, interim hearings and the upcoming 83rd Legislative session are opening doors for new opportunities to reform administrative segregation. Major openings for change include the TDCJ Sunset process and an interim study on administrative segregation.
 The New York City Bar Association. “ Supermax Confinement in U.S. Prisons.” Retrieved at http://www2.nycbar.org/pdf/report/uploads/20072165-TheBrutalityofSupermaxConfinement.pdf
 Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts. (January 1993). “Against the Grain.” Retrieved at http://www.window.state.tx.us/tpr/atg/atgps/ps03.html
 Data gleaned from Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Response to Open Records
Request, “Administrative Segregation,” December 6, 2011; information available upon request.
 Texas Department of Health and Human Services. (2010) Another Look at mental Illness and Criminal Justice Involvement in Texas: Correlates and Costs. Retrieved at http://www.dshs.state.tx.us/Mental-Health/Mental-Health-Data-Research-and-Reports/
 Criminal Justice and Behavior. (2009) Beyond Supermax Administrative Segregation; Mississippi’s Experience Rethinking Prison Classification and Creating Alternative Mental Health Programs http://prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/beyond-supermax-1.pdf
 National Religious Campaign Against Torture. “End Prolonged Solitary Confinement.” Retrieved at http://www.nrcat.org
 American Bar Association Standards for Criminal Justice: Treatment of Prisoners, 3rd Edition, 2010. Standard 23-2.8. Retrieved at http://www.abanet.org/crimjust/policy/midyear2010/102i.pdf>