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Assessing the Impact of Restrictive Housing on Inmate Postrelease Criminal Behavior

NCJ Number
American Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 45 Dated: 2020 Pages: 102-25
Kristen M. Zgoba; Jesenia M. Pizarro; Laura M. Salerno
Date Published
24 pages

The authors of this paper present their examination of the effects that restrictive housing has on offender recidivism after release from prison; they describe their subject population, research methodology, outcomes, and implications.


The placement of inmates in restrictive housing (RH) units has become a staple of corrections policy in recent years. Despite its increased use, research on its continued effects is relatively rare when compared to the breadth of general correctional research. This study contributes to the literature by examining the effect that placement in restrictive housing has on offender recidivism after release from prison. Subjects include approximately 4,000 inmates matched through Propensity Score Matching (PSM) techniques and followed 36 months post-release. The findings reveal that inmates placed in restrictive housing had elevated levels of recidivism and proportionally more new commitments for all crime types than those not placed in restrictive housing. Restrictive housing subjects also displayed shorter time to rearrest than non-RH individuals. The authors conclude with a discussion of the theoretical and policy implications of these findings. Publisher Abstract Provided