Solitary Confinement as Punishment: Examining In-Prison Sanctioning Disparities – 2017

Drawing on prior sentencing and prison scholarship, this study examines the use of solitary confinement as a form of punishment. Specifically, it assesses whether, given a prison infraction, minority inmates—and young, male, minority inmates in particular—are more likely to be placed in solitary and to be placed in it for longer durations. Multilevel regression analyses of state prison data suggest little support for the hypothesis that minority males, or young minority, males, are sanctioned more harshly than other inmates. The analyses identify, however, that males are more likely than females to be placed in solitary as a form of disciplinary punishment and that younger females are more likely to be placed in it than older females. The findings highlight that age and sex may interact to influence punishment decisions and raise questions about the precise roles of race and ethnicity in affecting punishment decisions. Implications of the findings for theory, research, and policy are discussed.

Joshua C. Cochran, Elisa L. Toman, Daniel P. Mears & William D. Bales
Justice Quarterly, Volume 35, 2018 – Issue 3, 05 Apr 2017