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Work in Long-Term Restrictive Housing and Prison Personnel Perceptions of the Humanity of People Who Are Incarcerated

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice and Behavior Volume: 49 Issue: 10 Dated: 2022 Pages: 1516-1535
Date Published
October 2022
20 pages

This paper analyzes how working in long-term restrictive housing may influence how personnel, such as officers and staff, view incarcerated individuals; the authors review their testing of two hypotheses and implications of their findings.


The punitive era in the United States and other countries has included reliance on long-term restrictive housing (LTRH)—consisting of solitary confinement with few privileges—as a means of managing violent and disruptive individuals in prison. The authors examine how working in such housing may influence how personnel, including officers and staff, view individuals in prison and assess two hypotheses. First, those who work in LTRH will be more likely to hold a dehumanized view of these individuals. Second, the theoretical mechanisms through which such a view may arise involve brutalization, organizational context and culture, role conflict and distancing, and empathy fatigue. They assess these hypotheses using a mixed-methods study, analyzing data from a large-scale prison personnel survey and qualitative focus group and interview data. The authors also discuss implications of the study’s findings for theory and research on restrictive housing, corrections, and the punitive era. Publisher Abstract Provided

Date Published: October 1, 2022