Psychological Effects of Custodial Sentencing


Stress and Depression

  • High suicide rates (self-harm/mutilation)
    • Bartol (1995) "imprisonment is brutal, demeaning and generally devastating"
    • 15% higher suicide rates in the last 20 years
  • High risk of psychological disturbance upon release
    • Prison Reform Trust (2014) - 25% of women and 15% of men reported symptoms of psychosis.
      • Custodial sentencing is not effective in rehabilitation, especially for the psychologically vulnerable.
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  • Prison life/routine becomes the norm so offenders find it difficult to function upon release.
    • Technology and laws etc. have changed while the offender is in a custodial setting.
      • Increases recidivism rates
        • Offenders will reoffend to get back to their norm - where they can cope and funnction
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  • Prisoners are socialised into adopting inmate code (hostile and aggressive)
    • University of Crime - learn from hard criminals (through vicarious reinforcement, to gain the popularity status of these hard criminals) which can undermine rehabilitation and also lead to recidivism.
    • Hostility is still present upon release which makes it difficult for the offender to cope, increasing the possibility of recidivism.

Does custodial sentencing teach people not to offend or teach offeders not to get caught?

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