Innovative Programming

MP3 players: The Hampden County Sheriff’s Department in Massachusetts distributes MP3 players to people in restrictive housing as a reward for positive behavior. The content provided in the MP3 players includes self-help and treatment material, music, nature sounds, and audiobooks. The department has found MP3 players a cost-effective way to keep people engaged in positive activities and to reinforce constructive behavior.

De-escalation rooms: The Colorado Department of Corrections has introduced de-escalation rooms in its restrictive housing units, where a person can choose to go for a time to cool down. These rooms often have soothing wall murals, dim lights, and a comfortable chair. People can listen to calming music, use exercise balls, read, and participate in art therapy while there. 

Blue Rooms: In 2013, Oregon created the first “Blue Room” on a restrictive housing unit, a place where people can go and view nature videos. A recent study of this unit found promising results among those who were able to use the Blue Room, including fewer acts of violence, a lower rate of disciplinary infractions, individuals reporting feeling “soothed” by the videos, and prison staff saying they appeared “calmer.”Bryan Denson, “Oregon Prison Tackles Solitary Confinement with Blue Room Experiment,” The Oregonian, August 21, 2014; and