An Analysis of the Deterrent Effects of Disciplinary Segregation on Institutional Rule Violation Rates [2017]

In light of the limited resources available in the criminal justice system, and given the financial costs and inmate mental health risks associated with disciplinary segregation, the practice warrants testing and evaluation. Limited research exists on the effect disciplinary segregation has on subsequent inmate misconduct in state prisons. Institutional violation rates for a cohort of male inmates incarcerated by the Oregon Department of Corrections were analyzed. Controlling for other factors, the results of this study indicate that disciplinary segregation was not a significant predictor of subsequent institutional misconduct. The findings also indicate that the experience of disciplinary segregation does not reduce subsequent prison inmate misconduct and therefore suggest that it may not be an effective institutional practice. These results signal that disciplinary segregation should be used in a more judicious and informed manner and that further research should be performed to determine whether disciplinary segregation has a general deterrent effect.

Joseph W. Lucas, Matthew A. Jones
Criminal Justice Policy Review, March 22, 2017