OCR psychology - Imprisonment

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Imprisonment

Gillis and Nafekh - Planned behaviours once free from jail

Aim: To investigate the effect on recidivism rates of a community based employment scheme

Participants:

  • Federal offenders conditionally released between Jan. 1998 & Jan. 2005
  • 23,525 individuals
  • 95% male, 5% female

Methodology:

  • Content analysis of data from Canada's Offender Management system on all individuals
  • Used matched pairs - employed prior to release & unemployed. Then matched on gender, risk level, release year, sentence length, attitudes, family relations, substance abuse etc...
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Imprisonment

Gillis and Nafekh - Planned behaviours once free from jail

(continued...)

Results:

  • Average time for whole sample to get employment on the outside was 6 months for men and 10 months for women.
  • Those on employment programmes (prior to finishing their sentence) were more likely to remain on conditional release and less likely to return to custody with a new offence.
  • Median time to return was also longer for employed group (37months vs 11months).
  • At the end of the study period, 70% of employed group remained on conditional release (55% for unemployed).

Evaluative points:

  • Matched pairs - reduces Pp variables so higher internal validity.
  • Employment schemes designed for offenders - high ecological validity & mundane realism
  • Large sample - reliable, however, 95% male so andocentric
  • Standardised procedure - easily replicated & look for consistancies so high reliablility/ 'sound' conclusions can be made.
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Imprisonment

Dooley - Depression/suicide risk in prisons

Aim: To investigate all unnatural deaths that occured in England & Wales prisons between 1972 & 1987

Methodology:

  • Content analysis of prison department papers - suicide notes & medical history also.
  • Analysis of papers used a checklist of social psychiatric & forensic history.
  • Groups getting a verdict of suicide was compared to those who didn't.

Results:

  • 442 unnatural deaths recorded
  • 300 got verdict of suicide - the rest were a variety of verdicts including 52 from consciously self inflicted injury (CSI).
  • Suicide was mostly by hanging (90%)
  • Most of CSI group were female
  • Deaths mainly occured at night (50%)
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Imprisonment

Dooley's study - Depression/suicide risk in prisons

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Differences of deaths classed as suicide & those classed as CSI were that significantly more of suicide group were on remand (17%)

Evaluative points:

* High ecological validity - uses/collects data from real prison records so high mundane realism.

* Standardised prodecure? - could repeat this method/technique of content analysis on other prisons/data records, so can look for consistancies/is reliable.

* Nurture - situation of prison environment, being on remand, overcrowding etc leads to hgih stress and depersonalisation which leads to CSI or suicide --> little biological factors - eg. mental health etc... situation makes people with mental health issues more likely to commit suicide.

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Imprisonment

Zimbardo & Haney - The prison situation and roles

This study is in two parts, the first summarising changes & the second suggesting improvements to the prison system...

Changes to prison system over 25 years:

  • 1980s - political pressure mounted to put more & more criminals behind bars
  • Concept of 'rehab' was publically discredited.
  • Determinate sentencing - sentences had to be served in full with no parole.
  • In USA, building of new prisons to accomodate for the increase in prison population - this population showed racial bias, with African Americans making up approx. 48% even though they only made up 6% of general population.

Suggestions for improvements:

  • More resources should be put towards alternatives to prison - prisons should be used sparingly in the 'war' against crime as they're psychologically damaging.
  • Prisons should take into account individual differences in how people adapt to confinement.
  • Put in place decompression programmes to gradually reverse the effects of the extreme environment inside.
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