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Protective Custody in Prison – Prison Insight

Protective Custody in Prison – Prison Insight

Did you know there are prisons within prisons? You may have heard it called “the hole” or “SHU” or “solitary confinement”. But all of these names refer to a place within the prison walls – Administrative Segregation (AdSeg).

The exact name depends on the facility, but an administrative segregation is always a special unit separate from the general population. Prisoner cells are smaller and more secure. They are usually a concrete room with just a bed and a toilet.

Prisoners may find themselves in AdSeg for a variety of different reasons. Placement in AdSeg is usually a punitive measure for prisoners who fight, don’t follow the rules, or misbehave in some way.

Prisoners can also find themselves in AdSeg while in Protective Custody (PC). Prisoners who voluntarily enter the PC or are housed in the PC also live separately from the general population. And, that leads us to today’s topic: Protective Detention in Prisons – What is it and how does it work?

In this blog post, I’ll cover the following topics:

  • Can you apply for protective custody in prison
  • Why prisoners are placed in protective detention
  • Should cops jailed be in protective custody?

Can you apply for protective custody in prison?

Yes, prisoners can request protective custody. Typically, prisoners requiring a PC are high-risk prisoners. But there are other types of prisoners who also make demands.

High-risk prisoners are those who commit violent and/or sexual crimes against children and women, rapists, animal abusers, and those who commit crimes against the elderly.

Other inmates requesting protective custody include gang members who are incarcerated with members of rival gangs, informants, gay and transgender prisoners, and people whose sentences are nearing the end of their sentences.

Protective custody is also required for former law enforcement officials, judges and prosecutors who have been jailed. Notorious criminals, high-profile celebrities, and public figures often require a PC, too.

All you need to do to request protective custody is tell the guards. They will have you fill out a form to start the process and will immediately remove you from the cell.

Why are prisoners placed in protective detention?

Protective custody is a special type of incarceration designed to protect prisoners from harm. Prisoners can make a request to the PC if they feel they are in danger of being harmed or killed by other prisoners in the general population. It’s a non-punitive measure, but not too different from solitary confinement.

“Essentially, prisoners are moved to solitary confinement-like conditions for their own protection, to avoid interaction with other prisoners,” writes Calen Weiss in her book Brief introduction to criminal law“While there is no constitutional right to protective detention, prisoners often request it out of fear of reprisal for crimes committed outside or inside prison.”

Prison officials can also decide to place a prisoner in protective custody if they believe someone is in danger. This is often the case with celebrities and high-profile prisoners.

This is not where anyone wants to be. When you are in protective custody, you will spend up to 23 hours a day in your cell. Usually, you’re only out for a shower and a few minutes of “play” time. However, this is pretty much walking around in a small cage area.

Quarantined inmates do not have access to any personal property they may have purchased from the commissary. No TV, no snacks, no phones. You’re in luck if you get a book or some paper and pens.

A prisoner’s time with a PC may be temporary or continue throughout the sentence. I should also point out that some states with large prison systems have designated specific facilities for vulnerable groups. Basically, they have “PC” prisons for inmates who need to be separated from other people for any reason.

Should cops jailed be in protective custody?

Yes. Police officers who are jailed should absolutely be in protective custody. Anyone with law enforcement experience should ask the PCs. They are unlikely to be safe among the general population. I believe there are exceptions to this rule. However, they are rare.

Would you ask for protective custody if you felt you were in danger in prison? Let us know in the comments below.


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