Jail segregation today, hospital seclusion tomorrow

There has been a lot of attention given to the use of segregation in correctional facilities, sufficient that a number of class action lawsuits have been launched, and in many cases, they have been settled. Psychiatrists and psychiatry in general have mostly watched these issues play out from the sidelines. Segregation occurs in correctional facilities and few psychiatrists work in jails and prisons. Although mental health professionals watched with interest and concern, it remained an issue in correctional settings, not in our house. In the last few decades psychiatry has done a lot of work in reducing seclusion in hospitals. The tracking of seclusion, the requirements for reassessment and seclusion justification, along with improved training of staff about the traumatic effects of seclusion have helped in reducing seclusion rates and the length of individual seclusions. Psychiatry has done well in this regard and hence it would not be surprising that many may think that the issues associated with seclusion have been dealt with. This may be an error for the following reasons.

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