All right, first off: It's not really a padded cell.
But last week's This American Life on NPR includes a story about New York City's "rubber room" -- a "reassignment center" at the city's Board of Education building, for public school teachers who are placed on probation.
It works like this:
Teachers are told to report there instead of their classrooms. No reason is usually given. When they arrive, they find they've been put on some kind of probationary status, and they must report every day until the matter is cleared up. They call it the Rubber Room. Average length of stay? Months, sometimes years.
Years?? And at taxpayers' expense.
It's a fascinating story; really worth listening to.