U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Using Restrictive Housing to Manage Gangs in US Prisons

NCJ Number
Corrections Today
David C. Pyrooz
Date Published
July 2018
6 pages

This article summarizes key findings from a chapter entitled "Gang Affiliation and Restrictive Housing in U.S. Prisons," in the NIJ-published volume, "Restrictive Housing in the United States: Issues, Challenges, and Future Directions."


Evidence from several prison systems indicates that gang-affiliated inmates are over-represented in restrictive housing. It is not clear whether this circumstance is due to their need for protection, discipline for misconduct, or the perceived threat associated with their gang membership. A review of the relevant evidence suggests that the justification for the large-scale placement of gang-affiliated inmates in restrictive housing is limited; however, the available evidence suggests that restrictive housing may reduce inmate rule violations. A positive move toward jointly reducing the influence of gangs in prisons and the over-use of restrictive housing consists of a system that specifies the incentive-based steps that can move an inmate in restrictive housing into the prison general population. Another promising effort is to provide treatment-based efforts that promote renouncement of gang ties. Such programs, however, must be accompanied by rigorous, scientific evaluation. Such an effort can be facilitated by establishing mutually beneficial researcher-practitioner partnerships that lead to the design, implementation, and evaluation of promising efforts to reduce the influence of gangs in prisons. Using research to develop data-driven policies will facilitate better-informed decisions about the use of restrictive housing for gang-affiliated inmates.