Projects: Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative
Segregated housing, commonly known as solitary confinement, is a growing fiscal, safety, and human rights concern for all corrections departments. Vera’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative is partnering with five state and local corrections systems to significantly reduce their reliance on segregated housing through the advancement of safe and effective alternatives.
Vera’s Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative (SAS) provides technical assistance to state corrections departments in Nebraska, North Carolina, and Oregon, as well as local departments in New York City and Middlesex County, New Jersey. They were selected through an open and competitive Request for Proposals (RFP). Selected sites receive a full policy and practice review, data analysis to determine the drivers of the segregation population, and recommendations on policy and practice changes that will safely and effectively reduce the use of segregation in system facilities.
The initiative is guided by an advisory council made up of practitioners from state or local corrections systems that have successfully reduced their reliance on segregated housing, as well as other experts in corrections management, criminal justice policy, and mental health and special populations. Practitioners are paired with selected sites to serve as peer mentors in the reduction effort. Council members advise Vera on technical assistance priorities, best practices, and the development of trainings and publications.
Through the online Safe Alternatives to Segregation Resource Center (SASRC), Vera provides the latest research, implementation guides, policy briefs, and current thinking from leaders in the field. This resource allows Vera to also provide limited on-demand technical assistance to additional jurisdictions on request.
This work builds on the field and data expertise Vera developed through the Segregation Reduction Project’s five years of work with five state and local departments of corrections. It is supported in part by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Assistance.
What is segregated housing and why should we reduce it?
Segregated housing has a long history in the U.S. criminal justice system. A founding principal of the nation’s first prison, the practice later became a strategy for handling prisoners deemed threats to the safety and security of facilities. In recent years, it has increasingly been used for prisoners who may not pose a threat to staff or other prisoners, but commit minor, non-violent violations that are disruptive. A growing body of evidence suggests that holding people in isolation with minimal human contact for days, years, or in some instances decades, is counterproductive to public safety as well as exceptionally expensive. Long-term isolation can create or exacerbate serious mental health problems and assaultive or anti-social behavior, result in negative outcomes for institutional safety, and increase the risk of recidivism after release.
For more information please contact Sara Sullivan.
This project is supported by Grant No. 2014-DB-BX-K009 awarded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau of Justice Assistance is a component of the Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs, which also includes the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Office for Victims of Crime, and the SMART Office. Points of view or opinions in this document are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Will the Safe Alternatives to Segregation Initiative (SAS Initiative) have any financial reporting requirements additional to those found in the Office Justice Program’s financial guide?
No. Vera’s grant reporting requirements will match those listed in the financial guide. Because there is no transfer of money to the chosen sites, however, financial reporting will only be required for the match.
Is the grant competition open to juvenile systems?
No. The SAS Initiative’s grant program is open only to adult systems.
What types of financial matches are allowable under the SAS Initiative grant program?
The match can be cash or in-kind.
Are letters of support required? And if so, to whom should they be sent?
Letters of support beyond what is described in the RFP are not required. If you would like to send letters of support, send them with your application to the contact listed on the RFP.