Institutional aggression in the context of prisons

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  • Institutional aggression in the context of prisons:
  • Dispositional explanation - importation model:
  • AO1:
  • Institutional aggression results from characteristics of prisoners:
  • Irwin and Cressy argued that inmates bring with then into prisons a subculture typical of criminality - including belifes, values, norms, attitudes, personal characteristics etc. (e.g. gender, race and class).
  • Inmates import these to negotiate their way though the unfamiliar prison environment in which existing inamtes use aggression to establih power, status and access to resources. Aggression is the result of individual characteristics of inamtes and not of the prison environment. 
  • Prisoner characteristics include anger and traumatic experiences:
  • DeLisi et al studied juvinile delinquents in California institutions who importe several negative dispositional features. For example, childhood trauma, anger, histories of substance abuse and violent behaviour. 
  • Outcomes include self-harm and prisoner violence:
  • Inmates in the DeLisi et al. study were more likely to engage in suicidal activity and sexual misconduct, and committed more acts of physical violeve brough to the attention of the parole board (comaprd with a control group of inmates with fewer negative dispositional features).
  • Situational explanation - deprivation model:
  • Institutional aggression due to stress created by prison environment itself:
  • Clemmer argued that harsh prison conditionas cause stress for inmates who cope by behaving aggressively. Aggression is also influenced by another situational factor - an unpredicatable prison regime that regualarly uses 'lock ups' to control behaviour. This creates frustration and reduces access to 'goods' (television) even further. This is a recipe for aggression, which becomes an adaptive solution to the problem of deprivation. 
  • Harsh conditionas include psychological and physical factors:
  • Psychological factors (deprived of freedom, independence and heterosexual intimacy). 
  • Physical factors (deprivation of material goods increases…


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