Moving Beyond Correlational Penology: Conducting Qualitative Research Amongst Prison Inmates and Staff

Allan L. Patenaude, University of Arkansas - Little Rock

By their nature and locations, prisons are places in which few criminologists study first-hand. It is far easier to gain access to study the residents of a remote Alaskan village than to study the lives of prison inmates and/or those persons whose task it is to keep them within the prison walls. This article explores some of the interrelated challenges (access, rapport, honesty, confidentiality, compromise, etc.) faced by researchers conducting qualitative research within correctional environments. Examples are drawn from the literature as well as recent studies by the author on the work environment of correctional officers and a prison substance abuse treatment program.

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Updated 05/20/2006