Correctional environments should be a place where incarcerated people and corrections professionals are heard, respected, and included in decision-making. Accountability, not punishment, should be central to all agency policies and procedures. Equitable treatment for all people—without personal biases, discrimination, or judgment—should be a core value.

Pathways to creating fairness in carceral settings

1. Establish a workgroup of corrections professionals and incarcerated people to review practices and policies with a focus on the impartial and equitable treatment of all who are incarcerated, and work within the carceral environment to ensure that policies and practices align with this Fairness Principle.

2. Assess the built environment of carceral facilities to ensure they reflect the culture and practices of the broader community. New designs and renovations should be developed in conjunction with those who will be most impacted by the decisions.

3. Replace the current disciplinary system—for both staff and incarcerated people—with restorative practices focused on healing and repairing harm that ask three core questions: what happened, how were people affected by what happened, and what needs to happen to repair the harm and ensure it never happens again?

4. Eliminate mass or group punishment, which is counterproductive to creating safety and accountability.

5. Collect, analyze, and share disciplinary and sanctions data to increase transparency and better understand the perpetuation of biases, monitor successes, and pinpoint areas for improvement.

6. Establish a system of checks and balances that ensures that staff perform job duties in a manner that promotes equity and integrity, discourages misconduct, and creates a culture of collective accountability.

7. Ensure that separation, if employed, occurs without isolation in accordance with best practices from youth facilities, mental health facilities, and adult correctional facilities.

  • a. Use separation “only in exceptional cases as a last resort, for as short a time as possible and subject to independent review.” Where possible, eliminate the practice entirely, especially isolation.
  • b. If separation is used, it should be based on a person's current behavior, not static factors like conviction or charge type, or their past behavior, HIV status, or gender identity.
  • c. When separation is deemed necessary because of a safety concern, consider the following practices:
    • i. Employ separation without isolation.
    • ii. Address root causes of harmful behaviors with positive engagement and rapport building.
    • iii. Ensure access to full days (at least 14 hours daily) of out-of-cell time with others and opportunities (at least seven hours daily) for group programming and activities aimed at addressing the reasons for separation, without restraints and with at least several other people in group spaces conducive to meaningful human engagement.
    • iv. Eliminate restrictions on people’s out-of-cell time, other than short periods of time measured in minutes or hours for immediate emergency de-escalation or to avoid extreme suffering, devastating harm, or death.
    • v. Eliminate restrictions on communications with social ties in the community, attorneys, or the news media.
    • vi. Eliminate restrictions on food and access to the commissary.
    • vii. Never prohibit family contact.
    • viii. Improve spaces used for separation so that the time spent in the separated facility does no additional harm. Ensure that all spaces in the facility have equal access to services of equal quality, regardless of disciplinary practices.

Fairness Principle resources