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NCJ Number: 157939 Find in a Library
Title: Impact of the Prison Environment on Mothers
Journal: Prison Journal  Volume:75  Issue:3  Dated:(September 1995)  Pages:306-329
Author(s): J Clark
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 24
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: In a period when an increasing number of women are being sent to prison nationally and many treatment and educational programs in prison are being eliminated, this ethnographic study of mothers incarcerated at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in New York analyzes problems and potentials of a model reform-oriented prison for women.
Abstract: The Bedford Hills Correctional Facility follows a treatment model for female inmates that incorporates many programs supported by the "parity movement" to address underlying issues and problems faced by most women in prison. The study shows that infantilization and the push toward conformity undermine women's efforts to take responsibility as adults, mothers, and citizens. The deprivational and controlling nature of prison causes reactive, self-serving modes of adapting and reinforces punitive parenting models. Further, the prison environment reproduces some of the same destructive relational dynamics that mothers experience within their own families. Treatment modalities, although diverse, operate within and draw authority from the coercive prison order. Such an approach to treatment can reduce the prisoner to a deviant child or a passive victim rather than empowering her to take responsibility for herself and her family. In addition, the repressive atmosphere in prison reinforces women's tendencies to deny their emotions. Women therefore turn their grief and anger against themselves, sinking into depression or getting caught up in petty fights and trouble. Despite problems, however, many women in prison struggle to actualize themselves. They build positive relationships with peers, volunteers, and prison staff, and they undertake meaningful work and rebuild relationships with their children and other family and friends outside the prison. Although rehabilitation-oriented prisons have limitations, they still have benefits and can facilitate the education, training, and therapy of inmates. 32 references and 3 notes
Main Term(s): Corrections
Index Term(s): Children of incarcerated offenders; Female inmates; Gender issues; Inmate characteristics; Inmate Programs; Inmate treatment; New York; Rehabilitation; Women's correctional institutions
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