Segregation and hidden discrimination in prisons: Reflections on a small study of cell assignments

David L. Weisburd, Daniel McDonald

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this prison, inmates were assigned cells by correctional officers upon admission. Prisoners could request changes of cells, and some were granted, depending on availability. Black inmates had complained to prisoners' rights attorneys that they were persistently denied transfers to desirable housing areas as well as assignments to better jobs. Prison records regarding cell assignments on 3 days in 1985 revealed that the distribution of inmates among cellblocks and within cellblocks does not show a clear pattern of segregation, but whites were probably given more of the desirable cellblocks. In addition, the prisoners' desires to associate with persons of the same ethnic and racial background received some support from the administrators. However, creating segregated racial and ethnic groups probably intensifies the development of intergroup antagonisms. Thus, a strong argument can be made for forced and purposive integration of inmates, both to help prevent small conflicts from becoming race riots and to prepare inmates for a society that does not permit interracial violence. Tables and 21 references
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationCorrectional theory and practice
Place of PublicationChicago
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9780830413508
StatePublished - 1992

Bibliographical note

Includes bibliographical references


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