skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 134815 Find in a Library
Title: I Worked in a Prison: An Insider's Story
Journal: Psychology  Volume:28  Issue:3-4  Dated:(1991)  Pages:22-26
Author(s): R Eisenman
Date Published: 1991
Page Count: 5
Type: Biography
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The author recounts his personal experience of nearly 2 years as senior clinical psychologist in a California prison treatment program, noting that the inmates were difficult to treat and the nontreatment staff also lacked skills and undermined treatment goals.
Abstract: The prison housed dangerous, violent inmates, resulting in a major emphasis on security measures. The prisoners were basically hostile and manipulative, mistaking the author's kindness for weakness. Their attitudes produced the dilemma of whether to treat them kindly and as humans or merely to repeat the abuse they had experienced as children and that had helped make them criminals. The staff included therapists and correctional officers, who were also called youth counselors. The youth counselors knew little about mental disorders and counseling and often believed that the inmates were bad people who needed punishment rather than treatment. In addition, the supervisor subjected the author to various kinds of mistreatment, making the environment unpleasant. A combination of these factors made the author return to academia, vowing never again to work in a prison. Actions recommended to make prison positions more attractive to other psychologists include improved training for nontreatment staff, improved relationships among staff, relaxation of the rules to give professionals some freedom to operate, and changed expectations of the prisoners. 8 references
Main Term(s): Offender mental health services; Psychologists role in corrections
Index Term(s): California; Correctional personnel attitudes; Corrections effectiveness; Inmate staff relations
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.