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Examining the Use and Impact of Restrictive Housing

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2016, $452,452)

The purpose of this proposed study, undertaken by the University of Cincinnati, is to contribute to efforts to improve prison safety and order and, more broadly, public safety by systematically examining how restrictive housing (i.e., single-cell solitary confinement in response to infractions [“disciplinary”] or risk assessment [“administrative”]) is used by state prisons and the impact of restrictive housing on inmates, staff, and prison systems. To this end, and to contribute to the broader mission of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), this study seeks to: (1) provide empirical estimates of the prevalence and trends in the use of restrictive housing; (2) identify individual- and facility-level factors that predict inmate placement in restrictive housing; (3) estimate inmate-level impacts of restrictive housing during incarceration, including impacts on future misconduct, mental health, and in-prison programming; (4) estimate inmate-level impacts of restrictive housing after incarceration, on recidivism; (5) estimate facility-level impacts of restrictive housing on overall prison safety and order; and (6) assess prison officer perceptions of the use and impacts of restrictive housing.

This study’s subjects include all inmates (over 200,000 individuals) admitted into Ohio’s state prison system over the past ten years (2007 – 2016). Administrative prison records will be provided by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections (ODRC) and will include systematically collected and substantially detailed data measures for each individual prior to, during, and after their stay in prison. ODRC will also provide detailed measures about each of Ohio’s 26 state prison facilities over this period of time, allowing for macro level analyses focused on facility-level outcomes and multilevel analyses that estimate the impact of facility-level characteristics on individual-level outcomes. The investigators will also collect original data and commentary via an officer survey at the beginning of the project and via prison officer focus groups at the end of the project. Descriptive statistical analyses, multivariate regression analyses, and propensity score matching analyses will be used to answer the research questions.

In short, this project will systematically assess the use and impacts of restrictive housing for a ten-year period across an entire state. The study’s findings will be informative for corrections officials and provide direct recommendations for how to improve related policies. The short- and intermediate-term outcomes include timely submission of all research-related products (e.g., progress reports, final report, and data) in accordance with NIJ’s expectations, and scholarly publications in top-tier criminology and policy journals. ca/ncf

Date Created: September 26, 2016