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Extended Solitary Confinement for Managing Prison Systems: Placement Disparities and Their Implications

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: Online Dated: July 2021
Daniel P. Mears ; Jennifer M. Brown; Joshua C. Cochran; Sonja E. Siennick
Date Published
June 2021
28 pages

This study identified groups that may be more likely to be placed in extended solitary management (ESM) and policy concerns unique to each.


Despite concerns and debates about the policy of using extended solitary confinement for managing individuals deemed to be too violent or disruptive to be controlled any other way—for the broader goal of system order and safety—empirical assessments of disparities in placements into this form of incarceration are limited. Prior studies typically have not compared extended solitary management (ESM) populations to general prison populations or dimensions along which disparities in ESM placements may arise. Drawing on a study of one large state prison system, the current study examined disparities in ESM placement, including multiple, early, and longer duration placements. Implications of these disparities and the possibility that there may be differential experiences in and effects of ESM are discussed. (publisher abstract modified)