In the United States alone, there are two million people being held in prison and four million people on parole or probation. Of those released, over half will return to prison in a year. This is an alarmingly high rate of recidivism and incarceration compared to other developed nations. The United States prison system fails to rehabilitate inmates and instead equips them with maladaptive skills that will hinder their success outside of the prison. Inmates are suffering from occupational injustice, which can be detrimental to their ability to succeed outside of the prison system. Implementing occupational therapists into the prison system can improve the success of inmates and decrease the recidivism rates in the United States. Occupational therapists can use an individualized and holistic approach to address mental, physical, and social issues for each inmate. Using a scoping review, previous interventions and possible future interventions have been examined to identify what factors contribute to success in the rehabilitation of inmates and how occupational therapists can continue to grow in the prison system field. Specifically, co-occupations, sensory modulation, and occupational-based classes are the interventions identified in this research as most beneficial for inmates in the United States. This research is to be used to create a base level understanding of occupational therapy in the prison system and develop a model for future interventions in the prison system.

Semester/Year of Award

Spring 2023


Allen Keener

Mentor Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Access Options

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level



Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy