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Gang affiliation, restrictive housing, and institutional misconduct: does disciplinary segregation suppress or intensify gang member rule violations?

NCJ Number
Journal of Crime & Justice Dated: 2020
R. T. Motz; et al
Date Published

Since prison officials often place gang affiliates in restrictive housing even though little is known about what effect this experience has on their subsequent behavior, the current study developed and tested two competing hypotheses on the impact that time spent in restrictive housing has on gang affiliates’ post-segregation behavior.


The gang suppression hypothesis argues that isolating gang affiliates from their gang for a longer period leads to improvements in behavior when released. In contrast, the gang intensifying hypothesis argues that a longer period of separation leads to detriments in one’s behavior. The current study tested these competing hypotheses by examining the average impact of disciplinary segregation and the number of weeks spent in this setting on the subsequent institutional behavior of gang- and non-gang-affiliated inmates in a large midwestern state department of corrections. The results of this initial test did not support either hypothesis, since time spent in disciplinary segregation was not associated with the likelihood of subsequent rule violations in the sample. Research and policy implications of these findings are discussed. (publisher abstract modified)