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Restrictive Housing Practices Statement of Work

Joint Statement from the Directors of the Bureau of Prisons and National Institute of Justice

Restrictive Housing Practices Statement of Work

(BOP/NIJ) - The U.S. Department of Justice's Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and National Institute of Justice (NIJ) have partnered on a priority initiative to examine all facets of the use of restrictive housing in federal facilities. NIJ, a component of the Office of Justice Programs, has released a Request for Quotes to conduct essential research to discern why and for how long people are placed in restrictive housing in BOP facilities; the degree to which decisions for restrictive housing placement comport with BOP policies and evidence-based practices; the impact of the experience of restrictive housing on access to programmatic, treatment, educational, and visitation opportunities; and recommendations for reforms to reduce its use.

Our decades-long experience as a correctional leader and policy researcher have made us keenly aware of the harms that restrictive housing may cause to a person's mental, emotional, and physical well-being. NIJ-sponsored research on restrictive housing has found that it is not an effective deterrent, with studies yielding mixed results on its impact on misconduct and recidivism and generally finding that it does not reduce institutional-level misconduct or violence. [i] In fact, two studies sponsored by NIJ found evidence of an increased likelihood of recidivism after release from incarceration that involved restrictive housing compared to those who did not experience restrictive housing. [ii]

We view this investment in research to inform the reduction in reliance on restrictive housing in BOP's correctional institutions as a fundamental and crucial step in efforts to create more humane correctional environments that are conducive to self-betterment for people confined in them.

Colette Peters
Director, Bureau of Prisons
Nancy La Vigne
Director, National Institute of Justice

  1. Garcia, Marie, ed. 2016. Restrictive Housing in the U.S.: Issues, Challenges, and Future Directions. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice.
  2. Cochran, Joshua C., John D. Wooldredge, Claudia N. Anderson, and Joshua Long. 2022. Examining the Use and Impacts of Restrictive Housing. Grant Research Report, Washington, DC: National Criminal Justice Reference Service.
    Mears, Daniel P., George B. Pesta, Vivian Aranda-Hughes, Jennifer M. Brown, Sonja E. Siennick, Joshua C. Cochran, and William D. Bales. 2021. The Impacts of Restrictive Housing on Inmate Behavior, Mental Health, and Recidivism, and Prison Systems and Personnel. Grant Research Report, Washington, DC: National Criminal Justice Reference Service.