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NCJ Number: 49168 Find in a Library
Title: PRINCIPLES RELEVANT TO THE AMELIORATION OF THE PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF OVERCROWDING IN PRISONS (FROM AMERICAN CORRECTIONAL ASSOCIATION - PROCEEDINGS OF ANNUAL CONGRESS OF CORRECTIONS, 1976 - SEE NCJ-49145)
Author(s): J FLANAGAN; D NERENEZ
Corporate Author: American Correctional Assoc
United States of America
Date Published: 1976
Page Count: 6
Sponsoring Agency: American Correctional Assoc
Alexandria, VA 22314
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: SOCIAL SCIENCE THEORIES AND RESEARCH FINDINGS WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR LESSENING THE BAD EFFECTS OF OVERCROWDING IN PRISON ARE OUTLINED.
Abstract: THE MOST IMPORTANT VARIABLE RELEVANT TO THE OVERCROWDING SITUATION MAY BE THE EXTENT TO WHICH INMATES GET ALONG TOGETHER AND LIKE ONE ANOTHER. INMATES USUALLY INDICATE THAT THIS IS IMPORTANT TO THEM, NOTING THAT THEIR GREATEST NEED IS TO BE SEPARATED FROM THE MORE VIOLENT, EXPLOITIVE INMATES. INMATES ALSO OFTEN INDICATE THAT THEY WOULD LIKE TO SHARE A CELL WITH PERSONS THEY CONSIDER TO BE FRIENDS. IN SOME FACILITIES, THREE PERSONS LIVE IN ONE CELL. ASIDE FROM THE PROBLEMS OF CROWDING, THE THREE-PERSON GROUP FOSTERS THE FORMATION OF TWO-AGAINST-ONE COALITIONS. ANOTHER RELEVANT FINDING IS THAT PEOPLE IN COMPETITIVE CONDITIONS FEEL MORE CROWDED AND LIKE THEIR ENVIRONMENT LESS THAN SUBJECTS IN COOPERATIVE CONDITIONS. PEOPLE ALSO TEND TO WANT AND NEED SOME TERRITORY TO CALL THEIR OWN, THE IMPLICATION BEING THAT EVEN A SMALL PRIVATE SPACE IS BETTER THAN PUBLIC SPACE, SUCH AS DORMITORIES. THERE IS A CLEAR NEED FOR SOME PRIVACY, A NEED THAT IS PROPERLY MET ONLY WHEN THERE ARE ENOUGH RESOURCES TO PROVIDE A SEPARATE CELL FOR EACH PERSON. TEMPORARY PRIVACY CAN BE ACHIEVED BY PROVIDING AREAS FOR READING, WRITING LETTERS, ETC. ANOTHER POSSIBILITY IS A PROCEDURE FOR TEMPORARY VOLUNTARY ISOLATION. STUDIES HAVE ALSO FOUND THAT, AS SOCIAL DENSITY INCREASES, SO DO PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH COMPLAINTS. CROWDING ALSO TRENDS TO INTENSIFY WHATEVER REACTIONS ARE ALREADY LIKELY IN A GIVEN SITUATION, THE POSSIBLE IMPLICATION BEING THAT LESS AGRESSIVE RESIDENTS WILL ADJUST TO CROWDING BETTER THAN MORE AGRESSIVE RESIDENTS. SOME THEORIES VIEW CROWDING AS AN EXCESS OF SOCIAL STIMULATION. AN ASPECT OF THIS STIMULATION THAT IS PARTICULARLY RELEVANT TO THE PRISON SITUATION IS THE PROBLEM OF NOISE. REDUCTION OF NOISE LEVELS BY ARCHITECTURAL DEVICES AND SCHEDULING OF ACTIVITIES CAN ALLEVIATE FEELINGS OF CROWDING. ANOTHER EFFECT OF INCREASED PRISON POPULATIONS IS TO MAKE ALREADY SCARE RESOURCES (TELEVISION, RADIO, SHOWER FACILITIES, ETC.) EVEN MORE SCARCE, A PROBLEM THAT CAN LEAD TO HEIGHTENED AGGRESSION AND DISPUTES. OPERATING ON A SHIFT BASIS COULD HELP TO REMEDY SUCH PROBLEMS. A LIST OF REFERENCES IS INCLUDED. (LKM)
Index Term(s): Behavior; Correctional facilities; Correctional institutions (adult); Inmates; Overcrowding
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