'Pissin' Through the Wicket

James G. Houston, Grand Valley State University

Field research in jails and prisons is fraught with special problems. Getting permission to do the research is not only difficult, but often IRBs and skittish wardens prevent or challenge our attempts to conduct scientific inquiries and, hence, impede our ability to broaden our knowledge base. Beyond the obvious methodological and logistical challenges that prison researchers confront, there are also unanticipated events and exchanges that occur during data collection processes on the "inside" that are unique. In this paper, I discuss some of the unique exchanges in the context of walking through the cell house asking, "Hey, you wanna fill out this questionnaire?"

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Updated 05/20/2006