Helms School of Government


Doctor of Philosophy in Criminal Justice (PhD)


Marc P. Weiss


Restrictive Housing, Inmates, County Jails, Tennessee


Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of the proposed study was to address critical gaps in restrictive housing research by developing a theoretical framework of the practice grounded in the experiences and knowledge of correctional officers, managers, and administrators. The grounded theory methodology (GTM) was used because of the lack of cohesive theory and empirical inquiry in restrictive housing research. Constructivist GTM was chosen because it accounts for using existing literature and frameworks to better triangulate the theory-generation process. Interviews were held with 29 correctional professionals in the county jail setting. Data analysis was performed using ATLAS.ti for coding and Microsoft Word for memoing. Once theoretical saturation was achieved and coding completed, I developed the Framework for Operationalizing and Contextualizing Restrictive Housing in County Jails (FOCRH-CJ). This framework grounded the four dimensions of Mears et al.’s (2019) Conceptual Framework for Describing and Assessing ‘Restrictive Housing’ (CFDARH)—Goals, Duration, Conditions, and Intentionality—in qualitative interview data. According FOCRH-CJ, defined the CFDARH’s four dimensions operationalize instances of restrictive housing into clear, methodological rigorous definitions. The FOCRH-CJ also added another set of four dimensions—the Personal Element, Facility Context, Complexities, and Gender Disparities—which contextualize instances of restrictive according to the setting in which they are dispensed. In sum, I developed a framework that can serve as an integral step in unifying restrictive housing with a theory that can be used to both operationalize and contextualize future research endeavors.