AHS-P6-6. Solitary Confinement and Criminogenic Attitudes: Is Isolation Reinforcing Pro-Criminal Thoughts, Feelings, and Beliefs?

Michal Newhouse-Van Vlerin1, 2
Demi Kourtesi1
Faculty Mentor: Stephen Benning, Ph.D.1
1College of Liberal Arts, Department of Psychology
2College of Fine Arts, Department of Theatre

Documented increases of problematic symptomatology following exposure to social exclusion contexts may be suggestive of increases in antisocial cognition and pro-criminal attitudes among prisoners. An exacerbation in behavioral indicators of criminality in correctional populations including aggressive behavior, reduced cooperation, and deficits in impulse control may suggest that restrictive and exclusionary correctional practices can aggravate criminogenic thoughts, feelings, or beliefs. Existing literature indicates that an endorsement of pro-criminal attitudes is one of the greatest predictors of future criminal behavior.
The study will recruit 400 randomly selected female adult inmates from Florence McClure Women’s Correctional Facility of Las Vegas, Nevada. A hard copy of self-report survey will be given to the participants and is expected to take 1 hour to complete. After informed consent, participants will be asked to complete a survey regarding their demographics, confinement, and pro-criminal attitudes. Participants will be surveyed at the beginning of the study, and approximately 1 week after they are released from segregation. At least one participant from the initial sample who approximately matches the demographics of the participant who is exiting segregation will also be surveyed at the same time as part of a control group.
The primary goal of this study is to demonstrate the negative effects of solitary confinement. The secondary goal is to impact policy in correctional institutions. This study aims to understand whether being placed in solitary confinement can affect pro-criminal attitudes. This research will become a strong premise to the argument of abolishing solitary confinement.


Nov 15 - 19 2021


All Day


AHS: Poster Session 6
The Office of Undergraduate Research


The Office of Undergraduate Research


4 Replies to “AHS-P6-6. Solitary Confinement and Criminogenic Attitudes: Is Isolation Reinforcing Pro-Criminal Thoughts, Feelings, and Beliefs?”

  1. Hello Michal!

    I was thoroughly intrigued by your research question, as it is something I have wondered about more than once. During your introduction phase it was incredibly shocking to hear the amount of time an inmate can spend in solitary confinement. The amount of time seems a bit drastic to me, as you said in your expected results section that those who have previously been placed in solitary confinement will most likely have pro-criminal attitudes. Given this information, I find it most interesting that the prison would still opt in to place the inmates in solitary confinement. To my understanding a prisoner is put in such a place to correct some bad behavior; however, this seems more like a reward. I say that this seems like a reward because if the prisoner is placed in a cell by themselves for long periods of time then they are not using this time to repent and reflect on what they have done. On the contrary, by being in that cell by themselves they are now reinforcing their pro-criminal attitudes and behaviors. All in all, your presentation was very engaging! Best of luck on the study!

    -Johanna Torrez

  2. I liked the way you started your presentation. I can tell you rehearsed because it came across very clear. This is a very interesting topic, the title caught my attention while scrolling through the presentation. I can see how the increase in pro criminal attitudes could correlate to prisoners who spend a lot of time in an isolated space. I have actually seen some documentaries on this subject. I am curious to know what your results will be.

    Good Luck. Best wishes
    Brandon RT

  3. Hello, thank you for watching my poster presentation. Please let me know if you have any questions.

    1. I enjoyed the topic of your presentation and was really surprised to find out that the rooms where prisoners are placed in are as big as queen sized beds. I also knew about the length of time being in solitary confinement depending on the prisoner, but the fact that some are placed in these rooms for as long as decades or more is shocking. I have seen some documentaries about this topic as well. I thought it was important that you note the racial inequality, as well as the survey on female adult inmates. Watching your presentation made me think about ways prisons in the U.S. can reform solitary confinement or get rid of it altogether because of its effects. The goals of this topic are very informative subjects that are important to overall prison reform. Lastly, I enjoyed your presentation and was intrigued by your initial research. I hope you find the results you are looking for. Good luck!

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