Clinical Alternatives to Incarceration / Restrictive Housing Unit (RHU) 


In place of the now-closed MHAUII units, which were punitive segregation areas for the mentally ill inmates in DOC custody who violated institutional rules, the Department and its partners at DOHMH have developed a two-pronged approach to managing the mentally ill in punitive segregation.

For the Seriously Mentally Ill (as defined by the New York State Office of Mental Health), we have developed the Clinical Alternative to Punitive Segregation (CAPS). The CAPS units have been modeled on in-patient forensic wards. This means that there are several clinical staff on the units at all times during the day and evening tours engaging the inmates in individual and group therapy and supervised activities. In addition, these units will employ a full team-based approach where the officers and captain will be considered part of the treatment team and where both the clinical and uniformed staff will respond to inmates' needs.

This unit is not punitive segregation. An inmate’s time out of cell will be dictated by his or her ability to engage successfully with other inmates and staff on the unit and the decisions will be clinically driven. Inmates will be discharged from CAPS back to general population or Mental Observation units when they have successfully demonstrated stability and an ability to maintain good behavior. Their time in CAPS can be extended or decreased based on treatment goals and behavior and each will be different.

For the non-seriously mentally ill, we have developed Restricted Housing Units (RHUs). These units provide integrated behavioral management programming for mentally ill inmates in a punitive segregation setting. Inmates in RHU can move up a system of "levels" by maintaining good behavior and participating in their mental health care. If the inmate is not engaging in treatment or is misbehaving, he will not move up the level system and may lose levels if appropriate. Those who work their way up the level system will receive additional time out of cell on the unit for group therapy or "reintegrative activities," which are attempts to practice and demonstrate the ability to successfully and safely return to GP or MO units when their punitive segregation sentences are up. These activities include games, discussion sessions and TV/movie viewing opportunities. Those who graduate the program, which can take as little as 8 weeks, or longer if there are setbacks, are eligible for a conditional discharge from punitive segregation and a 50% time cut in the punitive segregation sentence.