Prison Segregation: Symposium Introduction and Preliminary Data on Racial Disparities

11 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2013 Last revised: 8 Jul 2013

See all articles by Margo Schlanger

Margo Schlanger

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: June 28, 2013


This short essay introduces the Michigan Journal of Race & Law Journal’s symposium, Inhumane and Ineffective: Solitary Confinement in Michigan and Beyond. I look at the extremely limited available demographic information about prisoners in solitary confinement, and present preliminary data that supports a working hypothesis of racialized skew in isolated confinement, compared to the already highly skewed demographics of general prison population. In four of eight datapoints (representing prisons in Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, and New York), non-white prisoners are substantially overrepresented in supermax facilities; statistical testing confirms that the difference is statistically significant. (In three of the other four — Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island — the small overrepresentation is not statistically significant; likewise, the tiny proportion of underrepresentation in Maryland lacks statistical significance.) The essay concludes with the customary call for further research.

Keywords: prison, solitary confinement, race discrimination

JEL Classification: J71, K14

Suggested Citation

Schlanger, Margo, Prison Segregation: Symposium Introduction and Preliminary Data on Racial Disparities (June 28, 2013). Michigan Journal of Race & Law, Vol. 18, pp. 241 (2013), U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 322, Available at SSRN:

Margo Schlanger (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States

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