Women in Solitary Confinement: Relationships, Pseudofamilies, and the Limits of Control [2020]

Drawing on qualitative data from focus groups with correctional personnel in one of the nation’s largest women’s prisons, this study examines staff perceptions of how incarcerated women cope with long-term solitary confinement. We find that women’s strong ties to other women and their prison pseudofamilies may influence the behaviors that explain their placement and stays in solitary confinement. We find, too, that women are perceived to go to extreme lengths to build and maintain relationships with other women. The findings showcase unintended consequences of solitary confinement, raise questions about its effectiveness, and highlight the limits of institutional control.

Vivian Aranda-Hughes, Jillian J. Turanovic, Daniel P. Mears, George B. Pesta
Feminist Criminology, October 1, 2020