Liman Center Reports and Testimony

Research: Reports and Statements

(April 13, 2023)
Yale Law School faculty, organized by Liman Center faculty and Fellows, submitted this comment to oppose a proposed federal rule change that would authorize the federal Bureau of Prisons to seize up to 75% of all funds deposited into the commissary accounts of individuals incarcerated in federal prison. The comment notes that the proposal would increase the economic burden of incarceration and disproportionately disadvantage communities of color. 

Liman Center Testimony: H.B. 5390
(March 24, 2021)
Testimony submitted for the record in support of H.B. 5390, an act repealing statutory provision that impose liability on an individual for repayment of the costs incurred when the individual was incarcerated.

Legislative Regulation of Isolation in Prison: 2018-2021
Judith Resnik, Jenny Carroll, Skylar Albertson, Sarita Benesch, Wynne Muscatine Graham

This paper provides an overview of legislative activity from 2018 to 2021 seeking to limit or abolish the use of solitary confinement. The paper hones in on examples of enactments by detailing statutes in Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York.

Fees, Fines, and the Funding of Public Services: A Curriculum for Reform
Brian Highsmith, ed.

Arthur Liman Center for Public Interest Law, Yale Law School
Criminal Justice Policy Program, Harvard Law School
Fines & Fees Justice Center
Policy Advocacy Clinic, UC Berkeley School of Law

This reader aims to help experts in public finance to understand the misuse of court-based monetary assessments as regressive revenue streams for states and local governments. The excerpted readings are designed to provide an introduction to fines and fees within the context of state and local budget practices.

Inability to Pay: Court Debt Circa 2020

Judith Resnik and David Marcus
North Carolina Law Review (January 1, 2020)

(Un)Constitutional Punishments: Eighth Amendment Silos, Penological Purposes, and People's “Ruin”
Judith Resnik
Yale Law Journal Forum (January 3, 2020)

Proposed Changes to Segregation of Individuals in New York State Prisons 
Alexandra Harrington, Judith Resnik, Anna VanCleave
Letter to New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (October 25, 2019)

Regulating Restrictive Housing: State and Federal Legislation on Solitary Confinement as of July 1, 2019
Research Brief (revised July 18, 2019)

Women in Prison: Seeking Justice Behind Bars (Briefing)

Submitted Statement (January 25, 2019)

Testimony (Video) (February 22, 2019)

Recommendations (March 22, 2019)

Judith Resnik, Anna VanCleave, Alexandra Harrington, Molly Petchenik 

On February 22, 2019, the United States Commission on Civil Rights invited experts to provide testimony on a range of issues affecting women in prison, including classification, family disruption, health and personal dignity, sexual abuse, discipline, and rehabilitative opportunities. Professor Resnik participated on a panel and the Liman Center provided a statement on the use of solitary confinement for women in prison and the practice of incarcerating women far from home and family. This statement recommended that the Commission study the implementation of the 2018 First Step Act and its effects on women in prison. Professor Resnik urged the commission to push for placement of prisoners closer to home and call for legislation that would conform the use of solitary confinement to the U.N.’s Nelson Mandela Rules, including a prohibition on the use of isolation for pregnant prisoners.

Following the briefing, the Liman Center submitted recommendations that include promoting state and federal legislation to limit or abolish the use of solitary confinement; calling on Congress to ensure implementation of the 2018 First Step Act; urging that federal prisoners are placed within 75 miles, rather than 500 miles, of their homes; creating a National Institute on Women in Detention; and building on progress in the states, many of which have enacted legislation to promote the dignity of incarcerated women. The Liman Center also provided a list of 2018 legislation focused on women in  prison.

More on this topic: Women in Detention.

Restrictive Housing

Time-In-Cell: A 2021 Snapshot of Restrictive Housing Based on a Nationwide Survey of U.S. Prison Systems
(August 24, 2022)
This is the fifth national survey of its kind. CLA (formerly the Association of State Correctional Administrators) and the Liman Center launched these longitudinal data collections in 2014.

Liman Center Testimony: PROTECT Act S.B. 459
(March 23, 2022)
This testimony, which is part of the legislative record of S.B 459, is provided by Judith Resnik, the Arthur Liman Professor of Law and founder of the Liman Center. The statement, drawn from prior legislative testimony, is based on the research and analyses of many current and former Liman Center colleagues and students, aiming to understand the uses of isolation and the efforts to limit or abolish it.

Liman Center Testimony: Pennsylvania Solitary Confinement Legislation
(August 6, 2021)
In this testimony, on the draft legislation amending Title 61 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, concerning solitary confinement, the Liman Center provides an overview of the use of solitary confinement around the United States and of the role taken by legislatures in eliminating and curbing the isolation of individuals for days, weeks, months, and years on end in small cells.

Time-In-Cell 2019: A Snapshot of Restrictive Housing Based on a Nationwide Survey of U.S. Prison Systems
(September 14, 2020)
This is the fourth national survey of its kind, continuing the longitudinal data collections begun by the Liman Center and CLA (formerly, the Association of State Correctional Administrators) in 2014. Related materials: Report page | Overview (slides)

Reforming Restrictive Housing: The 2018 ASCA-Liman Nationwide Survey of Time-in-Cell
Judith Resnik, Anna VanCleave, Kristen Bell, Alexandra Harrington, Greg Conyers, Catherine McCarthy, Jenny Tumas, Annie Wang (October 10, 2018)

Fourth in a series of research projects co-authored by the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) and the Liman Center. These monographs provide a unique, longitudinal, nationwide database on the use of “restrictive housing,” often termed “solitary confinement.” The 2018 monograph provides information on the numbers of people in isolation, their demographics, and the policies governing the use of restrictive housing.

Working to Limit Restrictive Housing: Efforts in Four Jurisdictions to Make Changes
Judith Resnik, Anna VanCleave, Kristen Bell, Alexandra Harrington, Greg Conyers, Catherine McCarthy, Jenny Tumas, Annie Wang (October 2018)

Directors of prison systems in Colorado, Idaho, Ohio, and North Dakota detail how they were limiting and, in Colorado, abolishing the use of restrictive housing. Correctional administrations’ efforts to reduce the numbers of people in restrictive housing are part of a larger picture in which legislatures, courts, and other institutions are seeking to limit holding people in cells 22 hours or more for 15 days or more.

Aiming to Reduce Time-in-Cell: Reports from Correctional Systems on the Numbers of Prisoners in Restricted Housing and on the Potential of Policy Changes to Bring About Reforms (November 2016)

Rethinking "Death Row": Variations in the Housing of Individuals Sentenced to Death (July 2016)
A report examining the housing of death sentenced prisoners around the country. 

Comments to the 2016 ACA Restrictive Housing Proposed Revisions (January 19, 2016)
Letter to the Standards Committee and Committee on Restrictive Housing, American Correctional Association

Time-in-Cell: The Liman-ASCA 2014 National Survey of Administrative Segregation in Prison
Sarah Baumgartel, Corey Guilmette, Johanna Kalb, Diana Li, Josh Nuni, Devon Porter, Judith Resnik, Camille Camp, George Camp (September 2015)

In 2014, the Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA) joined with the Liman Center to develop a national database of the policies and practices on what correctional officials call “restricted housing," frequently referred to in the media as “solitary confinement.” The result is this report, which numbers and the conditions in restrictive housing nationwide as of fall 2014.

Reactions to Time-In-Cell
Yale Law Journal Forum (February 2016)

Time-In-Cell: Isolation and Incarceration
Sarah Baumgartel, Johanna Kalb, and Judith Resnik

Only Once I Thought About Suicide
Reginald Dwayne Betts 

Worse Than Death
The Honorable Alex Kozinski

The Liman Report and Alternatives to Prolonged Solitary Confinement
Jules Lobel 

Time-In-Cell: A Practitioner’s Perspective
Ashbel T. Wall

Staying Alive: Reforming Solitary Confinement in U.S. Prisons and Jails
Marie Gottschalk


Isolation and Reintegration: Punishment Circa 2014
Hope Metcalf, Judith Resnik, Megan Quattlebaum (January 6, 2015)

These readings for the 7th annual Liman colloquim describe patterns of incarceration. These selections explore ways to reduce the prisons' use of isolation—through the location of prisons and the placement of people within them—to maintain order.

Women in Detention

Women in Detention: The Need for National Reform 
Statement for the Colson Task Force on Criminal Justice Reform
Johanna Kalb, Judith Resnik (March 2, 2015)

Women in Detention: The Need for National Agenda
Statement to the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Human Rights. 
Johanna Kalb, Judith Resnik, Megan Quattlebaum with Emma Kaufman, Devon Porter, and Jennifer Jun (December 9, 2014)

Drawing on the Liman Program’s research and advocacy, the statement brings into focus the specific challenges faced by women prisoners with respect to classification, placement, health, safety, and work.

Dislocation and Relocation: Women in the Federal Prison System and Repurposing FCI Danbury for Men
Anna Arons, Katherine Culver, Emma Kaufman, Jennifer Yun, Hope Metcalf, Megan Quattlebaum, and Judith Resnik (September 2014)

This report shows how the location of prisoners affects their opportunities and the disadvantages women experience in the federal prison system. In particular, the report addresses the impact of closing the facility for women at Danbury FCI and highlights how the construction of a new facility there could incorporate gender-responsive programming for women.

Statement Reassessing Solitary Confinement
Hope Metcalf, Judith Resnik (February 2014)

The statement written on the findings of the Liman Program’s 2013 report Administrative Segregation, Degrees of Isolation, and Incarceration: A National Overview of State and Federal Correctional Policies and details how corrections departments define the criteria for placement in administrative segregation, the processes for determining who falls within those criteria, some of the rules governing contact while in isolation, and the provisions for exit.

Administrative Segregation, Degrees of Isolation, and Incarceration: A National Overview of State and Federal Correctional Policies
Hope Metcalf, Jamelia Morgan, Samuel Oliker-Friedland, Judith Resnik, Julia Spiegel, Haran Tae, Alyssa Work, Brian Holbrook
Report (June 2013)

The report, conducted with the assistance of the Association of State Corrections Administrators (ASCA), surveyed the policies on administrative segregation (solitary confinement) in 46 states and the Federal Bureau of Prisons as of 2013. The report concludes that administrative segregation throughout the United States shares basic features: criteria for placement give broad discretion to decision-makers; detention generally is open-ended, rather than for a fixed duration; confinement is close and restrictive; and access to contact with visitors and to activities is very limited. Looking at the rules sheds light on why the practice of administrative segregation has become so prevalent. The policies provide relatively little guidance about which concerns and what risks necessitate segregation, and under which circumstances or by which criteria an inmate should be returned to general population. Thus, the rules do not reflect how segregation is actually used, either in the jurisdictions where isolation remains commonplace or in those that, in recent years, have reduced their segregation populations.

Prison Visitation

Prison Visitation Policies: A Fifty-State Survey
Chesa Boudin, Trevor Stutz, and Aaron Littman
Yale Law & Policy Review (2013)
Presents a summary of findings from a survey of prison visitation policies in the fifty states and in the system run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP). The lives of prisoners and their families are deeply affected by visitation policies and, to date, there has been no comprehensive effort to compare these policies across all of the fifty states.

Visiting Room: A Response to Prison Visitation Policies: A Fifty –State Survey
Giovanna Shay 
Yale Law & Policy Review (2013)

Why do they Do It That Way?: A Response to Prison Visitation Policies: A Fifty-State Survey
Ashbel T. Wall II
Yale Law & Policy Review (2013)

An Endangered Necessity: A Response to Prison Visitation Policies: A Fifty-State Survey
David Fathi
Yale Law & Policy Review (2013)

Taking Stock and Moving Forward to Improve Prison Visitation Practices: A Response to Prison Visitation Policies: A Fifty-State Survey
Philip M. Genty (2013)
Yale Law & Policy Review


Statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee Bureau of Prisons Oversight on Strategies to Reduce Recidivism
Judith Resnik, Hope Metcalf, Megan Quattlebaum (November 2012)

This statement discusses how, when the Bureau of Prisons proposed to limit prison placement options for women in the Northeast, the Liman Program began mapping where federal prisons were located, identifying how gender and jurisdictions of sentencing incfluence placements of incarcerated individuals. This statement also provides a brief overview of research demonstrating that incarcerated individuals who have opportunities for education and who can maintain ties with their families and communities are more successful while in prison and upon release.

Mass Incarceration

Overcriminalization and Excessive Punishment: Uncoupling Pipelines to Prison
Hope Metcalf, Sia Sanneh (July 2012)

This report was developed from a workshop co-sponsored by the American Bar Association and John Jay College of Criminal Justice. In December 2011, some 40 officials, scholars, and practitioners gathered to discuss the phenomenon commonly referred to as “mass incarceration.” The conversation focused on three areas, all of which are fueling rising prison populations: (1) over-criminalization through the erosion of intentionality; (2) criminalizing adolescent misbehavior in schools and on the streets; and (3) excessive punishment and control of those convicted of criminal behavior.

Federalism, Localism, and Public Interest Advocacy

Why the Local Matters: Federalism, Localism, and Public Interest Advocacy (2009)

On March 6 and 7, 2008, the Liman Program hosted its 11th annual colloquium, Liman at the Local Level: Public Interest Advocacy and American Federalism. Scholars, advocates, students, judges, and government officials explored the role of actors at all levels of governance across the history of public interest advocacy in the United States and transnationally. This volume widens the conversation and brings the in-person discussions at the Colloquium to a broader audience.