Dr. Mary Ellen Mastrorilli Prescribes a Priority Shift in Place of Solitary Confinement
Earlier this year, the New York Times reported on a new ban that prevents solitary confinement for juveniles in federal prisons. To the civilian, that may sound like a monumental change. However, Master of Criminal Justice Associate Professor of the Practice and Associate Chair of Applied social Sciences Dr. Mary Ellen Mastrorilli said that the number of juveniles actually housed in federal prisons is marginal, a total population of 71 with 13 held in restrictive housing as of December 2015.
In her opinion, that makes President Obama’s new policy less practical and more symbolic.
Dr. Mastrorilli suggests that the policy sheds light on a persistent issue—prisons routinely rely on solitary confinement to manage prisoners, rather than rehabilitate them.
“Prisons are in the business of deterrence, incapacitation, and risk management, with offender reform coming in a distant fourth,” Dr. Mastrorilli said. “When the first three objectives dominate, we have the situation we now see—an overreliance on restrictive housing. We need a far more balanced approach, one that values the idea that inmates can change.”
For more on this complex issue and to learn about the alternative solution Dr. Mastrorilli implemented when serving as a prison deputy superintendent, read the entire discussion here .