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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77092 Find in a Library
Title: Sociological Studies of the Impact of Long-term Confinement (From Confinement in Maximum Custody, P 49-60, 1981, David A Wood and Kenneth F Schoen, ed. - See NCJ-77087)
Author(s): J K Irwin
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 12
Sponsoring Agency: D C Heath and Co
Lexington, MA 02173
Sale Source: D C Heath and Co
125 Spring Street
Lexington, MA 02173
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Based on the findings of sociological studies, aspects of the impact of long-term imprisonment are discussed.
Abstract: Adaptations to long-term imprisonment vary from inmate to inmate, based largely upon social adaptations prior to imprisonment. Being a member of a criminal or deviant subculture outside of prison prepares a person to function in prison life without radical alteration of coping mechanisms. Those who have committed offenses in isolation, without participation in a criminal subculture, generally have greater problems in coping with long-term imprisonment. One form of adjustment is to participate fully in prison socioeconomic life so that many of the experiences of the outside community are created in prison. Another is to accumulate money and material possessions through the economic, material, and service exchanges occurring in prison. Some inmates make a commitment to improve themselves physically, emotionally, educationally, and in skill development. This is a conscious effort to turn a potentially negative experience into something positive. Another form of inmate adjustment is to adopt a posture of resistance to prison staff and program as a way of carving out an identity and purpose within the prison experience. Others accommodate themselves to the wishes of the prison staff and seek to make prison life less stressful through conformity to the expectations of those in authority. Some inmates withdraw into themselves in an attempt to lock out the reality of the prison environment. The factors in the prison life itself that most often hamper satisfactory adjustment are arbitrariness, cruelty, isolation, and the lack of opportunity to pursue activities and engage in meaningful social interaction with other inmates and staff. Prison administrators should aim at formulating and implementing policies that are least damaging and even positive in their influence on inmate adjustment to long-term confinement. A question and answer discussion follows the presentation, and notes are provided.
Index Term(s): Attitudes toward authority; Corrections management; Inmate attitudes; Inmate organizations; Inmate self-government; Prisonization; Socialization; Sociology
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