Examining the Prevalence of "Prisonization" in Modern Corrections

Wayne Gillespie, East Tennessee State University

Socialization into the inmate subculture in "total institutions" has typically been viewed as a systematic social process. That is, prisonization is believed to occur in all correctional facilities as a by-product of the deprivations associated with incarceration. Typically, individual characteristics such as length of sentence or phase of incarceration have been used to predict the degree of indoctrination into the inmate subculture. The present study examines the concept of prisonization and details the prevalence of this construct in modern correctional facilities. Key questions addressed by this research are whether prisonization varies across different correctional facilities or whether, in fact, it is a uniform, systematic process in all facilities. Data for this project come from a survey that was administered to almost 1,000 inmates in 30 different correctional institutions in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio. The statistical, analytic procedures consist of analysis of variance (ANOVA), ordinary least squares (OLS) regression, and hicrarchical linear modeling (HLM). Preliminary results suggest that prisonization appears to be a systematic social process. Advanced statistical analyses, such as HLM have failed to reveal any significant contextual effects on the phenomenon of prisonization.

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Updated 05/20/2006