Prison System Versus Critics’ Views on the Use of Restrictive Housing: Objective Risk Classification or Ascriptive Assignment? [2019]

Despite the widespread use of restrictive housing in correctional institutions, little is known about the factors associated with placement in this setting. This study advances two theoretical arguments about the use of this practice. The prison system view argues this housing is essential for institutional order and that, accordingly, only inmates who pose an objective risk to safety get placed in such housing. By contrast, the critics’ view argues this housing causes adverse effects and disproportionately targets certain inmates based on their ascriptive characteristics, such as their mental health status or race. The results indicate support for both perspectives.

Ryan M. Labrecque, Daniel P. Mears
The Prison Journal, January 22, 2019