Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice


The primary objective of this research is to gauge the extent to which Illinois' prisons vary in the severity of disciplinary sanctions imposed upon prisoners found guilty of committing similar rule violations. This research also seeks to identify factors that are most determinative of severity of disciplinary sanctions imposed upon prisoners after accounting for variance between prisons. the sample was constructed using data provided by Illinois prison officials concerning all prisoners released from prison in Illinois during a four-year period who were found guilty of committing at least one rule violation during their last term of incarceration. the research objective was achieved through multiple statistical analyses, including the use of multi-level statistical models. the results of the analyses demonstrated the existence of substantial variation between Illinois' prisons in severity of disciplinary sanctions imposed in response to similar rule violations, and showed how the discretionary authority of prison staff was exercised at key points of the disciplinary process. the results also indicated that the influence of variables reflecting the demographic characteristics of prisoners were non-determinative of severity of disciplinary sanctions imposed upon prisoners relative to variables reflecting characteristics of rule violations and the disciplinary history of prisoners. These results suggested that within each Illinois prison, there is a predominant view shared by staff and administrators as to how severely prisoners should be disciplined in response to similar rule violations. Further research should be conducted to probe the existence and foundation of these views in an attempt to explain the substantial variation existing between Illinois' prisons in how the prison disciplinary process is applied to prisoners who violate similar prison rules.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.