Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School


First Advisor

Kimberly L. Barrett, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rusty McIntyre, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Natalie Dove, Ph.D.


Solitary confinement is heavily relied on in U.S. correctional facilities. Extensive research has discussed the negative psychological effects of solitary confinement on individuals, especially those with severe mental illness. However, existing literature tends to homogenize severe mental health conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia under the “severe mental illness” umbrella. This study addresses this gap by examining the unique experiences of incarcerated individuals with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia during solitary confinement. By observing the utilization of solitary confinement for those with such disorders, this project aims to highlight potential discrepancies in the use of solitary confinement for these specific mental health conditions. Using the 2016 Survey of Prison Inmates (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2021), this secondary data analysis explores the nuanced relationships between specific mental health conditions and the utilization of solitary confinement within correctional facilities. Findings suggest that the diagnosis of bipolar disorder/mania and schizophrenia are both associated with an increased likelihood of being placed into solitary confinement for disciplinary reasons while incarcerated.