U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Effect of Solitary Confinement on Institutional Misconduct: A Longitudinal Evaluation

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 2015
198 pages

This dissertation conducted a longitudinal evaluation of the effect of solitary confinement (SC) on institutional misconduct in a sample of 14,311 inmates in Ohio.


The study's most significant finding is the lack of evidence of any effect of SC on subsequent inmate misconduct. In all 12 of the multivariate models examined, SC was not significant related to misconduct by inmates who had been in SC. Thus, the findings indicate that neither the experience of SC nor the number of days spent in SC had any effect on the prevalence or incidence of the finding of guilt for subsequent violent, nonviolent, or drug misconduct. These findings undermine arguments that SC decreases or increases criminal behavior; in fact, it has no effect on criminal behavior. Seriously mentally ill inmates in SC, on the other hand, had an increased risk for subsequent nonviolent and drug misconduct. Gang members in SC had an increased risk for subsequent violent and nonviolent misconduct. The study did not find much of a difference in effect based on gender; however, there was some evidence that females in SC may be less likely than males to engage in subsequent violent misconduct. Risk was not found to have any significant relationship to subsequent misconduct. There were no differences in the effect of SC based on race or prior incarceration. Younger inmates in SC were at increased risk for violent and nonviolent misconduct. The offense for which the inmate was incarcerated did not have much of an influence on misconduct. The author cautions that these findings many not be applicable to all SC settings and inmates. The author further advises that more research in this area should be conducted before any systematic changes in the use of SC are attempted. 8 tables, 12 figures, approximately 450 references, and appended supplementary information

Date Published: August 1, 2015