Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Reshaping Restrictive Housing

at the South Dakota State Penitentiary

Reshaping Restrictive Housing

Pierce Parker, Barbara and Michael Kane. Reshaping Restrictive Housing at the South Dakota State Penitentiary. Boston, MA: Crime and Justice Institute, December 2015.


This report, released publicly by the Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) in July 2016, examines reforms to segregation implemented during a two-year partnership between CJI and the South Dakota Department of Corrections, which were aimed at safely transforming restrictive housing in the state.

“One year into the implementation of its newly designed restrictive housing program, the South Dakota State Penitentiary saw its restrictive housing population drop by 18 percent, and its violent incident rate reach its lowest point, even dropping below the violent incident rate of the general prison population. These and other gains were the result of a careful planning, program design, and implementation process. This process has resulted in a restrictive housing program where only individuals who exhibit violent and dangerous behavior are admitted, where these individuals are provided the opportunity to earn their way back to general population, and where staff are incentivized for taking on the challenge of helping to build prosocial skills among this challenging population.” This report details these reforms and shares successes and lessons learned.


Click here to view the report.


Keywords: behavioral management, behavior change techniques, programming, step-down programs, step down programs, level systems, levels systems, culture change, staff engagement, staff buy-in