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Solitary Confinement and Prison Personnel: Emotional Numbing as a Response to Work in Extended Restrictive Housing

NCJ Number
Incarceration Volume: 4 Dated: Mar 2023 Pages: 1-19
Date Published
March 2023
19 pages

This article studies the emotional numbing effects of extended restrictive housing (ERH) work in personnel, as compared to work in general population housing (GPH).


In this study, extended restrictive housing (ERH) work, as compared to work in general population housing (GPH), was reported to be associated with greater emotional numbing due in part to unique aspects of this work. The numbing effects, then, may have adverse consequences for personnel's mental and physical health and relationships. Implications for understanding the punitive era and social order in prisons are discussed. Drawing on prior theory and research, this study develops and tests hypotheses about the potential for work in ERH, which entails solitary confinement, to contribute to emotional numbing among personnel. It draws on a mixed-methods approach using data from a large-scale survey and from focus groups and interviews with correctional personnel. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: March 1, 2023