Younger inmates of Florida prisons are more likely to be confined to solitary cells, regardless of their race or ethnicity, according to a six-year study of punishments for disciplinary infractions in the state’s penal institutions.
The study, entitled Solitary Confinement as Punishment: Examining In-Prison Sanctioning Disparities, found that age and gender are more significant than race in determining which prisoners receive the harshest punishment that authorities can mete out for violating the rules.
The study authors said their findings offer “little support for the hypothesis that minority males, or young minority males, are sanctioned more harshly than other inmates.”
At the same time, they cautioned that the study “should not be construed to suggest that racial and ethnic disparities do not exist in prisons.”
The study examined how authorities at state prison facilities dealt with 89, 133 inmate disciplinary infractions from January 1, 2005 to December 30, 2011.
It found that males were more likely than females to be placed in solitary confinement as disciplinary punishment during that six-year period, and that younger females are more likely to be placed in solitary confinement than older female inmates.
The research, published online this month on Justice Quarterly. was conducted by Joshua C. Cochran of the University of Cincinnati; Elisa L. Toman of Sam Houston State University; and Daniel P. Mears and William D. Bales of Florida State University.
The authors called for further research to examine the effectiveness of solitary confinement and how it can help or harm those who are disproportionally punished.
“There is, too, a need for policies and oversight that can ensure that prison punishments are fair, warranted, and effective—and that, at the same time, solitary confinement in general occurs in a way that also is fair, warranted, and effective,” the authors concluded.
This summary was prepared by Davi Hernandez, an intern with The Crime Report. Readers’ comments are welcome.