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The Experience of Imprisonment This chapter summarizes what is known about the nature of prison life and its consequences for prisoners.
The dramatic rise in incarceration rates in the United States beginning in the mids has meant that many more people have been sent to prison and, on average, have remained there for longer periods of time.
Therefore, the number of persons experiencing the consequences of incarceration—whether helpful or harmful—has correspondingly increased.
Although this chapter considers the direct and immediate consequences of incarceration for prisoners while they are incarcerated, many of the most negative of these consequences can undermine postprison adjustment and linger long after formerly incarcerated persons have been released back into society.
In examining this topic, we reviewed research and scholarship from criminology, law, penology, program evaluation, psychiatry, psychology, and sociology. These different disciplines often employ different methodologies and address different questions and at times come to different conclusions.
In our synthesis of these diverse lines of research, we sought to find areas of consensus regarding the consequences of imprisonment for individuals confined under conditions that prevailed during this period of increasing rates of incarceration and reentry.
Prisons in the United States are for the most part remote, closed environments that are difficult to access and challenging to study empirically. They vary widely in how they are structured and how they operate, making broad generalizations about the consequences of imprisonment difficult to formulate.
It is possible, however, to describe some of the most significant trends that occurred during the period of increasing rates of incarceration Page Share Cite Suggested Citation: The Growth of Incarceration in the United States: Exploring Causes and Consequences.
The National Academies Press.
After reviewing these trends and acknowledging the lack of national and standardized data and quality-of-life indicators, we discuss aspects of imprisonment that have been scientifically studied. From the available research, we summarize what is known about the experience of prison generally, how it varies for female prisoners and confined youth, its general psychological consequences, and the particular consequences of extreme conditions of overcrowding and isolation, as well as the extent of participation in prison programming.
We also consider, on the one hand, what is known about the potentially criminogenic effects of incarceration and, on the other hand, what is known about prison rehabilitation and reentry in reducing postprison recidivism.
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Not only are correctional institutions categorized and run very differently on the basis of their security or custody levels, but even among prisons at the same level of custody, conditions of confinement can vary widely along critical dimensions—physical layout, staffing levels, resources, correctional philosophy, and administrative leadership—that render one facility fundamentally different from another.
One of the important lessons of the past several decades of research in social psychology is the extent to which specific aspects of a context or situation can significantly determine its effect on the actors within it e. This same insight applies to prisons.
Referring to very different kinds of correctional facilities as though the conditions within them are the same when they are not may blur critically important distinctions and result in invalid generalizations about the consequences of imprisonment or the lack thereof.
It also may lead scholars to conclude that different research results or outcomes are somehow inconsistent when in fact they can be explained by differences in the specific conditions to which they pertain. This chapter focuses primarily on the consequences of incarceration for individuals confined in maximum and medium security prisons, those which place a heavier emphasis on security and control compared with the lower-custody-level facilities where far fewer prisoners are confined Stephan and Karberg, Prisoners in the higher security-level prisons typically are housed in cells rather than dormitoriesand the facilities themselves generally are surrounded by high walls or fences, with armed guards, detection Page Share Cite Suggested Citation: Obviously, these, too, are gross categorizations, with countless variations characterizing actual conditions of confinement among apparently similar prisons.
The assertions made in the pages that follow about broad changes in prison practices and policies, normative prison conditions, and consequences of imprisonment all are offered with the continuing caveat that as prisons vary significantly, so, too, do their normative conditions and their consequences for those who live and work within them.
The first and in many ways most important of these trends was due to the significant and steady increase in the sheer numbers of persons incarcerated throughout the country.Theory of Development.
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6 The Experience of Imprisonment. This chapter summarizes what is known about the nature of prison life and its consequences for prisoners. The dramatic rise in incarceration rates in the United States beginning in the mids has meant that many more people have been sent to prison and, on average, have remained there for longer periods of time.
and social norms that support violence Series of briefings on violence prevention A variety of external and internal pressures are thought to maintain cultural and social norms (6). L Individuals in different social groups within society are not tolerated – e.g.
homosexuals (Japan ).