Institutional aggression- the importation model

Just a brief description of institutional aggression within groups in prisons.

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  • Created by: Sama
  • Created on: 17-11-12 13:21

The importation model- Interpersonal factors

Irwin and Cressey (1962)- prisoners bring their own social histories and traits into the prison and that this has an influence on their adaptation to the prison environment. They argue that prisoners are not 'blank slates' when they enter prison, and that many of the normative system developed on the outside would be 'imported' into the prison.

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The importation model - Gang Membership

In the prison, gang membership is related to violence and other forms of anitsocial behaviour.

  • Several Studies have found that gang members disproportionately engage in acts of violence.
  • Huff (1998) found that gang members in the US were 10 times more likely to commit a murder and 3 times more likely to assault someone in public than were non-gang members of a similar age and background.
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The importation model - Situational Factors (The '

This model argues that prisoner or patient aggression occurs because of the stressful and oppressive conditions of the institution itself (Paterline and Peterson, 1999)

  • These include crowding, assumed to increse fear and frustration levels and staff experience. For example, Hodgkinson et al. (1985) found that trainee nurses are more likely to suffer violent assault than experienced nurses, and in the prison setting, length of service was also significant  factor, with more experienced officers being less likely to suffer an assault. (Davis and Burgess, 1988)
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The importation model - The 'pains of imprisonment

Sykes (1958) described deprivation that inmates experience in the prison might be linked to an increase in violence.

These included: 

  • Loss of liberty
  • Loss of autonomy = to be independent
  • Loss of security

For example, Sykes found that the potential threat to personal security incresead anxiety levels in inmates, even if the majority of prisoners showed no significant threat to them.

Inmates may cope with the pains of imprisonment in several ways.

  • Some choose to withdraw through seclusion in their cell or living space
  • Some others choose to rebel in the form of violence against other prisoners or against staff.
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