Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Criminal Justice


Jeff Mellow

Committee Members

Wendy Guastaferro

Jeremy Porter

Subject Categories



Restrictive Housing, Deterrence, Criminal Justice Policy


Restrictive housing (RH) is a complicated and controversial management tool used by local, state, and federal correctional agencies. Unlike previous studies that predominantly examined the psychological harms of restrictive housing placement, this study aims to extend the understanding of the use of restrictive housing, the conditions and specific utility of restrictive housing, and how such use can impact inmates’ subsequent behavioral outcomes or misconducts inside of the correctional facility. Restrictive housing data from the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (PADOC) was used to identify the differential impact of different types of restrictive housing (i.e., administrative, disciplinary, and protective RH) through a multi-dimensional approach. The study found that more than 80% of the sample did not show any difference in terms of misconduct rates and misconduct types (i.e., non-violent, violent) between pre-RH and post-RH. However, approximately 20% of inmates placed in RH showed some levels of behavioral change in terms of their misconduct rate post-release. Those individuals who showed a difference in the behaviors post-RH exposure tended to be younger, had prior PADOC incarceration history and had a serious mental illness. Furthermore, in terms of timing, low-risk inmates without an alcohol/drug abuse history and released from administrative RH were more likely to return sooner to RH.

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