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Women in Solitary Confinement: Relationships, Pseudofamilies, and the Limits of Control

NCJ Number
Feminist Criminology Volume: 16 Issue: 1 Dated: 2021 Pages: 47-72
Date Published
16 pages

Drawing on qualitative data from focus groups with correctional personnel in one of the nation’s largest women’s prisons, this study examined staff perceptions of how incarcerated women cope with long-term solitary confinement.


The study found that women’s strong ties to other women and their prison pseudo-families may influence the behaviors that explain their placement and stays in solitary confinement. It also found that women are perceived to go to extreme lengths to build and maintain relationships with other women. The findings showcase unintended consequences of solitary confinement, raise questions about its effectiveness, and highlight the limits of institutional control. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2021