Group Title: Changes and variability in personality characteristics among female prison inmates as a function of length of incarceration and race /
Title: Changes and variability in personality characteristics among female prison inmates as a function of length of incarceration and race
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Title: Changes and variability in personality characteristics among female prison inmates as a function of length of incarceration and race
Alternate Title: Changes and variability in personality characteristics among female prison inmates..
Physical Description: vii, 123 leaves : ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Lewis, Barbara Nancy, 1953-
Publication Date: 1979
Copyright Date: 1979
Subject: Women prisoners -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Personality and situation   ( lcsh )
Prison psychology   ( lcsh )
Counselor Education thesis Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Counselor Education -- UF
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Thesis: Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography: Bibliography: leaves 114-122.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: Vita.
Statement of Responsibility: by Barbara Nancy Lewis.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00098840
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: alephbibnum - 000096237
oclc - 06407202
notis - AAL1669


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I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to

the following people who have helped make this study possible:

Dr. Joe Wittmer, my chairman, for his support, encouragement,

advice and guidance.

Drs. Gary Seller and Harry Grater, my committee, for their

comments, criticisms, and helpful hints.

Mr. William Booth, Superintendent, Florida Correctional

Institution, for permission to conduct the study.

Dr. Virginia Palmer, Department head, Counseling and Social

Services, Florida Correctional Institution, for assis-

tance in the process of the research.

Mark Leary, for his expertise and invaluable assistance in

matters statistical.

Charles and Dorothy Lewis, my parents, for their unflagging

support, and for instilling in me the compulsiveness to

complete the task.

Dolf Lowey-Ball, my friend, for his years of encouragement.

Ann Browning, my friend, for her love and support.

Jim Hiett, my friend, for his ideas, advice and feedback.

George Medzerian, my friend and colleague, for his faith.

The countless others who helped, advised, listened, counseled,

and, most of all, put up with me throughout this project.



ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . . . . . . . . ... . . ii

LIST OF TABLES . . . . . . . ... . . . v

. . . . . vi

ABSTRACT . . . . . . . .


I INTRODUCTION . . . . . . . .
Statement of the Problem . . . .
Population . . . . . . . .
Rationale . . . . . . . .
Definition of Terms . . . . . .

The History of Punishment . . . .
Punishment Versus Rehabilitation . .
The Failure of Rehabilitation . . .
The Impact of Incarceration . .....
The Mortification of Self . . . .
The Pains of Imprisonment . . . .
Adaptation to Institutions . . . .
The Inmate Code . . . . . . .
Mitigating the Pains of Imprisonment .
Development of the Inmate Social System .
Conformity to the Inmate Culture . .
Primary Group Affiliation .. . ....
Women in Prison . . . . . . .
The Impact of Incarceration on Women .
The Incarcerated Mother . . . . .
Homosexuality and Play Families . ..
Male and Female Inmate Social Systems .
The Process of Prisonization . . .
Two Models of Prisonization . ....
Factors Minimizing or Maximizing
Prisonization . . . . . . .
The Universal Factors of Prisonization
The Effects of Incarceration ...
The Effects of Incarceration on Women .
Criminal Identification . . . . .



Reduction of Variance in the Prison
Population . . .... . . . . 62
The Personality of Prisoners . . . ... 64
Male/Female Differences ...... . . 65
Racial Differences . . . . . .. 67
Development of a Modal Personality . . .. 69
The Sociopathic Personality . . . . . 71
Summary . . . . ...... . . . . 73

III METHODOLOGY . . . . . . . .... 75
Hypotheses . . . . . . . .. . 75
Subjects and Procedures . ... .. . . 76
Instrumentation . . . .... . . . 78
Validity and Reliability ...... . . 81
Data Analysis . . .... .. . . . .. 84

IV RESULTS. . . . . . . . . . . 88
Analysis of Pretests ...... . . . 88
Hypothesis Testing . . . . . . .. 92
Limitations . . .... . . . . . 99
Methodological Assumptions . . . . .. 100

Summary . . . . . . . . . . 101
Discussion . . . .... . . . . 102
Conclusions .. . . ... . . . . 108
Recommendations for Further Research .... 111

APPENDIX . . . . ... . . . . . . . 113

REFERENCES . . . ..... . . . . . . . 114

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . .... . . . . . . 123



Table Page

1 Differences on scale 5 pretest scores as a
function of time served . . . . .... . . 90

2 Differences on pretest scale scores as a
function of race . . .... . . . . . 91

3 Differences on scale 5 posttest scores as
a function of time served . . . . . .... .. 93

4 Differences on posttest scale scores as a
function of race . . .... . . . . . 95

5 Interactional effects of time and race on
posttest scale 7 scores . . .. . . . . . 97

6 Interactional effects of time and race on
posttest scale 4 scores ..... . . . . . 98


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Barbara Nancy Lewis

August 1979

Chairman: Dr. Joe Wittmer
Major Department: Counselor Education

This study investigated personality change in incarcer-

ated women as it related to the factors of length of incar-

ceration and race. Subjects were first-time inmates at the

Florida Correctional Institution, Lowell, Florida. Scores

on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

were used as a measure of personality characteristics.

Pretest data were provided by the routine administration of

the MMPI to all inmates upon admission to the institution.

Posttest data were gathered by the investigator and compared

with pretest data to examine personality changes and changes

in group variability as a function of length of incarceration

and of race. Results of an analysis of variance showed no

personality change in the groups comprising the sample as a

function of length of incarceration alone. Several differ-

ences in personality as a function of race were revealed on

MMPI scales 1 (hypochondriasis), 6(paranoia), 7(psychastenia),

8(schizophrenia), 9(hypomania), and 10(social introversion).

These results show that the black inmates in this study were

more concerned with bodily functions, delusional, obsessive-

compulsive, schizophrenic, overactive, and socially withdrawn

than the white inmates.

Interaction effects of length of incarceration and race

appeared on scales 4(psychopathic deviance) and

7(psychasthenia). These results indicate that the races are

affected differentially by the experience of incarceration.

A test of homogeneity of within group variance-covariance

matrices revealed no changes in group variability. All

inmates were shown to maintain the basic sociopathic elements

of their personalities, as measured by MMPI scale 4(psycho-

pathic deviance), throughout incarceration.



If you keep one (man) in penal servitude
and another in the House of Lords for ten
years, the one will show the stigmata of
a typical convict, and the other of a ty-
pical peer (George Bernard Shaw, The Crime
of Imprisonment).

Prison is a very democratizing institution:
soon the psychopaths talk like the lawyers,
and the lawyers talk like the psychopaths

Upon entering a correctional institution, inmates are

stripped, searched, fingerprinted, bathed, and assigned a

uniform and a number. Clothes, jewelry, and any other

personal belongings in their possession are confiscated.

They are separated from family and friends; they are deprived

of status, individuality, privacy, and freedom. These

deprivations have been referred to as the "pains of imprison-

ment" (Sykes, 1958).

The immediate reaction of the inmate is one of shock,

disbelief, confusion, disorientation, and denial. Adjustment

to this new environment is not easy, but, in time, most do

adjust in one manner or another. To aid in this adjustment,

and to ease the "pains of imprisonment," an informal organi-

zation is developed around a system of group norms, referred

to as the inmate code. The code reflects inmate solidarity


an opposition to prison authorities and conventional values.

The varying degrees to which inmates support the code con-

stitute the inmate social system. Hawkins (1976) has remarked

that despite the diversity in the inmate population, there

is "only one strikingly pervasive value system": the inmate


Most inmates adjust to prison by the gradual adoption

of the inmate code; this process has been called

"prisonization" (Clemmer, 1958). The process entails chang-

ing habits of eating, sleeping, dressing, working, and

language; acceptance of subordinate status; and learning

that nothing is owed to the environment for the support it

provides. Hawkins (1976) has stated that the process of

prisonization is so disruptive to the long-term inmate's

personality that adjustment to any other community becomes

virtually impossible. Clemmer (1958) believes that the

effects of prisonization on the personality function to

create or increase criminality and sociopathy. Research on

prisoners' personalities has shown them to resemble typical

sociopathic patterns in their resentment of social demands,

conflict with authority, feelings of isolation, emotional

shallowness, lack of responsibility, inability to learn from

past experiences, lack of gratification from social experi-

ences, disregard for danger, etc. (Dahlstrom et al., 1972;

Eysenck, 1964; Eysenck & Eysenck, 1973; Joestring et al.,

1975; Panton, 1974).


Statement of the Problem

The purpose of the present study was to examine the

effects of length of incarceration on personality, both of

individual inmates and on the inmate community as a whole.

As suggested above, length of incarceration appears to have

some effect on personality. But, does it also function to

reduce the variance in personality in the general inmate

population by creating a typical or "modal personality"

(DuBois, 1960) as several anthropologists have suggested

regarding groups that are raised similarly and all treated

alike? Specifically, the study attempted to answer the

following questions: Would the personality characteristics

of prison inmates change as a function of time served? More

specifically, would personality characteristics distinguish

newly admitted inmates from those who had served 3-6 months

and/or from those who had served 9 months or more, and would

there be differences among these groups? Would a "modal

personality" develop as a function of time served? More

specifically, would the variance of personality characteris-

tics in a female inmate population diminish as a function of

time served? Would race be a factor in personality change?

In short, the present study examined whether the more time

people were incarcerated, the more their personalities would

resemble those of their fellow inmates.


The sample of subjects used in this study consisted of

81 female inmates at the Florida Correctional Institution,

Lowell, Florida. All subjects were serving their first

state prison sentence, i.e. recidivists were not used as

subjects in this study. Also excluded were inmates housed

in "honor" facilities and those in disciplinary confinement.

It was felt that the experiences of the latter inmates might

have differed significantly from those of the general

prison population.


In theory, today's prisons are agents of rehabilitation.

Yet the high recidivism and ever-rising crime rates in our

cities indicate that the criminal justice system's attempts

at rehabilitating public offenders may not have been effective.

The experience of incarceration poses a profound threat to

inmates' self-concepts and may even foster sociopathic

tendencies. Several authors have commented that this is

especially true for female inmates, yet little research has

been published concerning women in prison.

The present study investigated the effects of incarceration

on women, particularly its propensity to create, over time,

a modal personality. Considering the amount of public funds

allocated for the construction and maintenance of correctional

institutions, research to explore the effects of these


institutions on their inmates, and consequently on society

in general, is much needed. This study represents an attempt

to meet this need.

Definition of Terms

Inmate one of those confined in a prison.

Modal personality central tendencies in the personalities

of a group of people subject to common cultural pressures.

Newly admitted inmates those inmates who have been incar-

cerated in the state prison less than five weeks, i.e.

those inmates housed in "Reception and Orientation" at

the time of this study.

Personality characteristics those characteristics measured

by the various scales of the MMPI.

Prisonization the taking on in greater or less degree of

the folkways, mores, customs, and general culture of

the penitentiary (Clemmer, 1958).

Recidivism repeated or habitual relapse into crime.

Recidivist a repeat offender; one who has served two or

more nonconcurrent sentences.

Sociopathic (or Psychopathic) personality a mental disorder

characterized by eccentricity; emotional instability;

perversity of conduct; undue conceit and suspiciousness;

or lack of common sense, social feeling, self-control,

truthfulness, energy or persistence.


This chapter presents the literature related to the

present study. First, an overview of the history of the

criminal justice system and the concept of rehabilitation is

presented. Next, the failure of rehabilitation is demon-

strated by exploring the effects of the prison experience on

inmates' self-concepts. The inmates' reactions to incarcer-

ation are discussed in terms of the "pains of imprisonment"

they suffer and the ways in which they adapt to prison life.

And finally, the impact of prison on the inmate population

is examined as it functions to produce a so-called "modal

personality," resembling the sociopathic personality.

The History of Punishment

Sutherland and Cressey have defined punishment as a

method which ". . involves pain or suffering produced by

design and justified by some value that the suffering is

assumed to have" (1970, p. 298), and which is ". . inflic-

ted by the group in its corporate capacity upon one who is

regarded as a member of the same group" (1970, p. 298).

Historically, four types of punishment have been used

in dealing with public offenders: 1) physical torture;

2) removal from the group by death, exile, or imprisonment;

3) social degradation; and 4) financial loss (Sutherland 9

Cressey, 1970). These methods are by no means mutually


The first of these methods, physical torture, is demon-

strated in the corporal punishment popular before 1800.

This concept is based on the hedonistic philosophy that when

the pleasure of committing socially undesirable acts is

exceeded by the pain of the consequences, the undesirable

acts will cease.

In the early nineteenth century there arose concern for

the humane treatment of public offenders, and prisons were

established as places of confinement and custody. In England,

imprisonment was rarely used before the last part of the

thirteenth century. The House of Corrections was established

around the middle of the sixteenth century, and by the

beginning of the nineteenth century, imprisonment had become

the principal method of punishing serious offenders (Suther-

land 9 Cressey, 1970).

In the United States today, public offenders are pun-

ished chiefly by the methods of imprisonment and financial

loss. Social degradation is also included since, in most

states, convicted felons lose their rights to vote, to hold

public office, and to practice certain professions and


Punishment Versus Rehabilitation

Punishment as a method of dealing with public offenders

has been justified as a means of atonement, deterrence, and

retribution; as a producer of income for the state; and as a

way of restoring or promoting the solidarity of the community

(Sutherland 9 Cressey, 1970).

However, punishment has been ineffective in preventing

the offender's return to crime, as well as in deterring

others. In fact, punishment seems to strengthen the inclina-

tion toward crime since the resentment it engenders leads to

a greater rigidity of response in the offender (Reid, 1976;

Eysenck, 1964).

The concept of rehabilitating offenders arose out of

the failure of punishment. Goffman (1966) defines rehabili-

tation as ". resetting the inmate's self-regulatory

mechanisms so that after he leaves he will maintain the

standards of the establishment of his own accord" (p. 65).

The first official recognition of the desirability of reha-

bilitating prisoners came in 1773 when the English Parliament

authorized magistrates to appoint chaplains in jails.

Today, the attempt at rehabilitation is standard practice in

our correctional facilities. Sutherland and Cressey (1970)

state that ". .. the trend during the last century has been

toward a societal reaction in which the criminal is treated

rather than punished" (p. 347).

Despite this trend, today's prisons do not seem to be

effective agents of rehabilitation. Hassler (1972) states

that "The best of prisons does not reform or rehabilitate.

It punishes, but punishment neither eradicates the original

misdeed nor reforms the criminal. Neither does it serve as

an effective deterrent, as is evident by the steadily rising

rate of crime. It does not deter others from following a

criminal career--for the simple reason that no man commits a

crime expecting to be caught" (p. 196). It now appears that

the new humane treatment of the twentieth century has been

just as ineffective at solving the crime problem as the

corporal punishment of the eighteenth.

The Failure of Rehabilitation

". . the crimes that shock and terrify the law-

abiding citizens are almost without exception crimes commit-

ted by graduates of our prisons, our jails, our parole

systems" (Prisoner no. 4000X, 1972, p. 190). The preceding

statement, made by a convicted felon serving his second term

in a penal institution, indicates that these institutions do

not serve as effective rehabilitation agents. The fact is

that many, if not most, of the "graduates" of the present

American penal system return to crime and, eventually, to

prison. The high recidivism rates in our prisons, averaging

70%, reflect the failure of their attempts at rehabilitation

(Levenson, 1975; Zimbardo, 1972).

When prison does cause permanent change in inmates,

these changes are most often not in the intended direction

(Goffman, 1966). The data from Persons' (1970) study of a

boys' reformatory show that the reformatory, instead of

initiating a rehabilitative process, actually increases

psychopathology. Sutherland and Cressey (1970) have stated

that the prison experience ". . is conducive to the reten-

tion and development of criminal attitudes, rather than to

reformation" (p. 546). Clemmer (1958) believes that prisons

do "immeasurable harm" not only to their inmates, but to

their employees, and that rehabilitation, when it does

occasionally occur, occurs in spite of, rather than as a

result of, the prison culture.

Petersen and Truzzi (1972) explain the penal system's

lack of success as a rehabilitative agent in its failure to

". .promote the self-respect of the prisoner as a neces-

sary condition for successful rehabilitation" (p. 187). The

next several sections of this chapter explore the system's

disregard for the importance of self-respect by examining

the impact of incarceration on the inmate.

The Impact of Incarceration

Admission to a correctional institution is a shocking

and traumatic experience for the new inmate. "The immediate

and overwhelming impression of prison, and one that continued

through my sentence and beyond, was the feeling of

humiliation. . Morethan anything else, I think, the

convict is infuriated and discouraged by the planned indig-

nities and degradation that are his lot from the moment he

gets into the hands of the prison authorities" (Hassler,

1972, p. 194). Ward and Kassebaum (1965) describe the

initial reaction to incarceration as an overwhelming feeling

of confusion and insecurity with complete loss of perspective.

The admission process has been described as a harsh, demor-

alizing, and depersonalizing experience (McCleery, 1966),

and one that causes a serious disruption in the emotional

stability of the inmate (Gill, 1952).

Reid (1976) states that the admission procedures, which

include stripping of personal belongings, assignment of a

number, examining, inspecting, weighing, and documenting,

deprive the inmate of a sense of personal identity.

Gill (1952) studied in detail the impact of the first

few months of incarceration on the inmate using the test-

retest method with the Wechsler-Bellevue Intelligence Scale,

the MMPI, the Rorschach, and the TAT. The protests were

given as soon as feasible after commitment; the posttests

were given three months later. He found that depression-

like symptoms appear immediately following commitment.

These symptoms gradually diminish and are supplanted by

feelings of dissatisfaction, boredom, and self-pity, which

heighten tendencies toward an unwholesome mode of thinking.

Upon retest, he found a general reduction of self-confidence.

The Rorschach scores suggested a general reduction of higher

intellectual functioning and organizational ability, greater

awareness of the obvious features of the environment, in-

creased attention to relatively unimportant details, and a

tendency toward a less mature mode of thinking. The MMPI

retest revealed an elevation of all of the clinical scales.

The depression scale (D) revealed the largest increment of

increase, increasing significantly from insignificance to

abnormal elevation. The schizophrenia scale (Sc) revealed

the second largest increment of increase; the psychasthenia

scale (Pt) the third; and the psychopathic deviate scale

(Pd), which was the most elevated scale on both administra-

tions, still revealed the fourth largest increment of in-

crease. The hypomania scale (Ma) also became elevated;

indicating a heightened interest in exciting, emotionally-

laden situations. Gill remarked that the MMPI retest pro-

files were dominated by the psychotic scales--Pd, Pa

(paranoia), Sc, and Ma--and noted the relatively unimportant

position of the "neurotic triad"--Hs (hypochondriasis), Hy

(hysteria), and Pt. Gill concluded that the first three

months of imprisonment cause a significant shift in person-

ality toward psychopathology.

The tendency is for new inmates to internalize the

social rejection implicit in incarceration into self-rejection

and lowered self-esteem (Wheeler, 1961). They must reorga-

nize their lifestyles, learn new ways of reacting to situa-

tions, and adopt new values and self-concepts (Gill, 1952).

In short, they must "unlearn" former behavioral patterns and

substitute new ones demanded by the institution.

Culbertson (1975) found that inmates at a boys' refor-

matory incarcerated for the first time showed a significant

decline in self-concept during incarceration. While showing

no significant changes during incarceration, self-concepts

of boys with one previous incarceration were lower upon

protesting than "first-timers"; and those of boys with two

or more previous incarcerations were lower still. Brown

(1971) found that younger delinquent girls shifted to a

distrustful and nondependent view of self after incarceration.

Sykes' (1958) analysis revealed that the anonymity of a

uniform and a number rather than a name, and the insistence

on gestures of respect and subordination when addressing

officials produce a constant threat to the inmate's self-


Total institutions, defined as those which erect a

barrier to social intercourse with those outside, eliminate

the normal barriers which separate the three spheres of

life: work, play, and sleep. All activities from all three

spheres are conducted in the same place, under the same

authority, with the same company of numerous others. Life

in these institutions is highly regimented; scheduled activ-

ities are imposed by the authorities and are designed to

meet official institutional goals (Goffman, 1966). The

total institutions being studied here, prisons, seem to have

a profound impact on their inmates, particularly in the area

of self-concept.

The Mortification of Self

Goffman (1966) has theorized on the damage done by

total institutions to inmates' self-concepts. He has labelled

the process by which this occurs "the mortification of


The process of mortification of self begins with role

dispossession as individuals are separated from the outside

world and must abandon their previous roles in terms of

their families, jobs and education. Ties to these roles

through correspondence and visits are closely supervised by

institutional staff. This lack of privacy in interpersonal

relationships with significant others adds to the mortifica-

tion of self.

The second step in the process is encountered during

admission procedures. These procedures involve the learning

of deference obligations and the dispossession of personal

property. The procedures involving the learning of deference

obligations provide a sort of initial obedience test of

whether or not the inmate is prepared to be "appropriately"

deferential. Deference obligations include saying "sir" or

"ma'am" when addressing staff members, having to ask to go

to the toilet or to smoke, and other demeaning rituals. The

dispossession of personal property has long been noted by

religious orders as aiding in the process of mortification

of self. Goffman stresses its importance here "because

persons invest self-feelings in their possessions" (1966, p.

26). Dispossession of property involves some damage to

those self-feelings. This dispossession also includes the

loss of one's name as it is replaced by a number. This may

be the greatest loss.

The third step is personal defacement. Inmates are

stripped of their usual appearance and of the equipment and

services by which it is maintained. They suffer the anonym-

ity of wearing the same uniform as all others around them.

Inmates are then assigned to, and come to adopt, disidenti-

fying roles. Labeling theory suggests that labeling someone,

for example, a "criminal," will cause others to respond

differently to that individual, leading the individual to

respond in different ways, thereby creating a self-fulfilling

prophecy (Reid, 1976). Zimbardo (1972) has stated with

regard to prisons that merely assigning labels to people and

placing them in a situation in which that label has validity

and meaning is sufficient to elicit pathological behavior.

The denial of heterosexual activity may induce inmates to

question their masculinity or femininity and adopt the alien

role of "homosexual." The exclusion of inmates from know-

ledge of decisions regarding their fates is a denial of

their command of self. They may come to question their

status as "adult," i.e. having self-determination, autonomy,

and freedom of action, and adopt the role of dependent


The process of mortification of self is complete.

Goffman (1966) states that "Mortification or curtailment of

the self is very likely to involve acute psychological

stress for the individual" (p. 48). Yet it is only one of

the pains of imprisonment.

The Pains of Imprisonment

Sykes (1958) created the term "pains of imprisonment"

to describe the deprivations and frustrations of prison,

including loss of liberty, deprivation of goods and services,

and frustration of sexual desire. Sykes and Messinger

(1960) list the five major deprivations as: 1) the rejected

and subordinate status of inmate, 2) material deprivations,

3) sexual deprivation, 4) the constant social control imposed

by the prison custodial staff, and 5) the constant presence

of other offenders.

The subordinate status of the inmate has been discussed

in the preceding sections covering the impact of incarcera-

tion and the mortification of self.

Material deprivations are felt although inmates' basic

material needs are met. Needs are met for all inmates in

the same way, with the same uninteresting food, the same

anonymous clothing, and the same basic furniture. These

items quickly become boring and lack the symbolic or senti-

mental value invested in personal possessions. Society

equates material possessions with personal adequacy, their

deprivation with inadequacy. "Now in modern Western culture,

material possessions are so large a part of the individual's

conception of himself that to be stripped of them is to be

attacked at the deepest layers of personality" (Sykes, 1958,

p. 69).

The deprivation of heterosexual activities causes

severe psychological problems. Latent homosexual tendencies

may surface, whether behaviorally expressed or not, arousing

strong guilt feelings at a conscious or unconscious level.

Anxiety over masculinity or femininity is generated whether

the inmate is coerced, bribed, or seduced into homosexual

activity (Sykes, 1958). Sexual identity is questioned and

self-concept is threatened.

The constant social regulation by the prison staff is

perceived and felt much differently than the social regula-

tion by custom in the free world. The power is not freely

given; it is total and imposed. Explanations of rules and

regulations are often withheld from inmates, leaving them

confused. The rules and regulations are designed to control

inmate behavior in minute detail, and frustrate inmates'

decision-making abilities, leaving them feeling confused.

This deprivation of autonomy and initiative threatens the

inmates self-concpet as an adult (Reid, 1976; Sykes, 1958).

Imprisonment causes the inmate to be separated from

family and friends. As time passes, the ties weaken and

loneliness and boredom ensue. The inmate seeks to replace

the lost emotional relationships with new ones. Yet the

inmate is surrounded by other inmates, other "criminals."

Deprivation of the sense of security that comes from living

with people who can reasonably be expected to abide by the

rules of society is felt as a result of prolonged intimacy

with people who have a history of violent, aggressive, or

exploitative behavior (Sykes, 1958). This deprivation of

security is anxiety-provoking and causes inmates to question

their ability to cope with violence, aggression, and exploi-


All of these deprivations present an attack on the

inmate's self-concept, and post a threat to the individual

at a deep psychological level. The experience of incarcera-

tion in today's prisons may be just as painful as the physi-

cal maltreatment they replace. "Deprived of liberty, stripped

of worldly possessions, denied access to heterosexual rela-

tionships, divested of autonomy, and compelled to associate

with other deviants, the inmates find that imprisonment

still means punishment however much imprisonment may have

softened in this modern era by an accent on humanitarianism

and reform" (Sykes, 1958, p. 131). Inmates find they must

somehow adapt to the institution to ease the pains of


Adaptation to Institutions

After enduring the process of mortification of self and

suffering the "pains of imprisonment," inmates find they

must reorganize their lives and adapt themselves to their

institutions. In prison, this reorganization is based

on adherence to rules, privileges, and punishment (Goffman,

1966). In adapting to prison, inmates become assimilated

into the predominant culture. Assimilation is defined as

". .. a more or less unconscious process during which a

person, or group of persons, learns enough of the culture of

a social unit in which he is placed to make him characteris-

tic of that unit" (Clemmer, 1958). The effect of the insti-

tution on its inmates depends on the degree to which they

become assimilated. Since the "official" culture of total

institutions is one which demeans and degrades the inmates,

disrupts their personalities, threatens their self-concepts,

and makes them weak and helpless, it would seem that assimi-

lation into this culture would have personally devastating


In reference to adaptation to total institutions, those

which relieve their members of the burden of decision-making

twenty-four hours a day, such as armies, orphanages, prison,

and hospitals, Waller (1944) states that "All such institu-

tions rob the individual of his sense of self-direction and

ultimately damage the capacity for it. Virtue in such

institutions consists in having no preference about many

things; in eating whatever is put on the table, in wearing

what one is told to wear, in making the best of things. The

good institution member does not make choices or decisions.

He submits and permits himself to be carried along, as it

were, in a 'moral automobile.' When he returns to civilian

life, his suddenly uncorseted soul seems flabby and incapable

of standing alone" (p. 191). With regard to the particular

total institution studied, the army, Waller goes on to say,

"The regimentation of the lives of millions of men involves

S. .some damage to their sense of self and to their power

to think for themselves; it involves a redirection of their

emotional life into channels acceptable to the military

system. The solder must form a soldier's habit . learn

to eat, sleep, dress, bathe--as a soldier, adjust his sex

life to the soldier's necessities. Necessarily, he loses

the sense of self-direction. A personality formed by such a

milieu is thereby to some extent unfitted for civilian life"

(p. 191).


Coser (1962) studied a similar phenomenon occurring in

another total institution, the hospital. She states that as

patients become increasingly assimilated into the hospital

culture they begin to lose interest in people and activities

on the outside. As the frequency in number of admissions

increases, the patient's "hospital-orientation" increases,

and "outside-orientation" decreases. "Patients who have

been more frequently exposed to the hospital atmosphere are

more likely to be hospital-oriented and to find in the

hospital structure the sources of gratification of their

passive needs" (p. 124). Time has a cumulative effect. The

more patients look to the doctor or the hospital to gratify

their needs, the less prepared they become to resume their

lives outside.

Coser also notes that adaptation to the sick role of

hospital patient has dysfunctional consequences. She reports

that ". . the patient during the whole length of his stay

in the hospital is not expected to make his own rational

choices. By the time he is discharged he may have 'unlearned'

the making of choices" (p. 114). She adds that "The demands

made on patients appear to be rationally ordered and logi-

cally consistent, but they entail a difficult psychological

transition from one state to another . It is not always

easy . for a person who has given up his substantial

rationality in the hospital to recapture it when his health

is restored" (p. 114). She concludes that the patient who

best adapts to the hospital culture may well be the one

least prepared to return to the outside world because the

passivity appropriate to hospitalization proves to be inap-

propriate for the successful readjustment to outside respon-

sibilities. ". . it seems likely that a person's ability

to 'reorganize himself anew' may be weakened if he suffers

long and frequent exposure to an environment which demand

unquestioning and unreflective behavior" (Coser, 1962, p.


These institutions are similar in many respects to

prisons. It would seem that prisoners who adapt to the

official culture would leave the institution ill-prepared to

cope with life on the outside. But few, if any, prisoners

completely adapt to the culture of the prison authorities.

The majority create their own.

The Inmate Code

Despite the diversity of the prison population along

other dimensions, Hawkins (1976) has noted that there is

only one, strikingly pervasive, value system. It is a

system of group norms, reflecting inmate solidarity in

opposition to prison staff as well as to societal goals and

values (Ward S Kassebaum, 1965; Hawkins, 1976). The solidar-

ity provides a power base from which inmates can reject the

society which rejected them, and its representatives, the

the prison staff (Wheeler, 1961). This system of group

norms is generally referred to as the inmate code.

The inmate code consists of five major tenets: 1) an

inmate should not interfere with the attempts of other

inmates to serve the least amount of time possible with the

greatest amount of pleasures and privileges; 2) an inmate

should not argue or quarrel with fellow inmates; 3) an

inmate should not take advantage of other inmates by means

of force, fraud, or chicanery; 4) an inmate should be tough,

maintain self, and not "cop out"; and 5) an inmate should

not respect the staff nor value the society for which they

stand (Sutherland 5 Cressey, 1970).

Imprisonment represents a social and moral rejection of

some individuals by the free community. This poses a threat

to prisoners' egos, and they find that to endure psychologi-

cally they must reject their rejectors (Sykes, 1958).

Through the inmate code, prisoners are able to reject society,

its values, and its power, rather than themselves (Wheeler,

1961). It provides a means to the status denied by society

(Reid, 1976).

Adjustment to prison life entails suffering systematic

deprivations: of material comforts and personal belongings,

of personal freedom, and of family and friends (Ward, 1965).

The inmate code develops in response to these deprivations

(McCleery, 1966; Sutherland 8 Cressey, 1970; Sykes, 1958).

One solution to the problem of deprivation is what Goffman

(1966) has referred to as "secondary adjustments"--practices

that do not directly challenge staff, but allow inmates to

obtain forbidden satisfactions or to obtain permitted ones

by forbidden means. Secondary adjustments give inmates the

feeling of having some measure of control over their environ-

ment. The inmate code provides the means of social control

to prevent an inmate from informing the prison staff about

the secondary adjustments of others (Goffman, 1966).

The norms of the inmate code are directly related to

mitigating the "pains of imprisonment" in an environment

where the staff has almost total power (Ward, 1965). Inmates

must find a way to respond and adapt to the harsh social

conditions of prison life. They must rebuild the self-

esteem destroyed by the demeaning and degrading procedures

which have relegated them to a subordinate status. They

must reconstruct their self-concepts, damaged by the deper-

sonalizing process of mortification of self. The inmate

code arises to meet these needs (Sykes & Messinger, 1960).

Mitigating the Pains of Imprisonment

Sykes (1958) cites solutions to the "pains of imprison-

ment" which rarely or never occur: physical escape, escape

into fantasy (psychosis), change by physical force (riot),

and change by persuasion. Instead, inmates seek to alleviate

these pains by means of a unifying process ". . through

which socially distant persons find themselves developing

mutual support and common counter-mores in opposition to a

system that has forced them into intimacy and into a single,

equalitarian, community of fate" (Goffman, 1966, p. 54).

The inmate code, and adherence to it, may be seen as a

logical consequence of confronting similarly situated indi-

viduals with a set of common problems (Thomas & Foster,


The value of solidarity has been noted by Sykes (1958):

". .. the greater the extent of 'cohesive' responses--the

greater the degree to which the society of captives moves in

the direction of inmate solidarity--the greater is the

likelihood that the pains of imprisonment will be rendered

less severe for the inmate population as a whole" (p. 107).

Cohesion encourages sharing, insuring that scarce goods will

be distributed more equitably, and in so doing, responds to

the problem of material deprivation. Cohesion helps solve

the problem of the deprivation of personal security. And,

finally, cohesion provides a meaningful social group through

which the inmate can achieve the status not attainable

through other channels (Sykes, 1958). "When two or more

persons perceive that they share a common motivation or

problem of action, a basis for meaningful interaction has

been established, and from this interaction can emerge the

social positions, roles, and norms which comprise social

organization" (Garrity, 1966, p. 372).

Development of the Inmate Social System

The varying degrees to which inmates support the inmate

code constitute the inmate social system (Ward, 1965). The

system, therefore, can be described in terms of certain

behavior patterns, or roles. The roles may be ordered along

a prosocial to antisocial continuum, reflecting the degree

of support for the inmate code. The greater the acceptance

of the norms of the inmate culture, i.e. the inmate code,

the more antisocial the role adaptation; the more antisocial

the role adaptation, the greater the support for the inmate

code (Thomas & Foster, 1972). The inmate social system is

dominated by antisocially oriented individuals (Garrity,

1966), and will continue to be dominated by those most

hostile to the official prison system so long as the official

system fails to reduce the "pains of imprisonment" (Wheeler,


As the inmate code determines the socialization charac-

teristics of the inmate culture, these characteristics also

determine, in part, the content of the inmate code. In

addition, the content of the code is determined by the broad

commonalities among the preprison experiences of the inmates

(Thomas & Foster, 1972). Wheeler (1961) provides two comple-

mentary explanations of the normative content of the inmate

culture. One is its problem-solving nature, discussed

earlier as a response to the frustrations, deprivations, and

adjustment problems of imprisonment. The other explanation

is "negative selection": ". . the single trait held in

common by all inmates is participation in criminal activity.

Their criminal acts indicate in varying degrees an opposition

to conventional norms. It follows that the inmate culture

should give expression to the values of those who are most

committed to a criminal value system--the long-termers,

those who have followed systematic criminal careers, etc."

(Wheeler, 1961, p. 708). The inmate code is a reflection of

a more general criminal code, imported to prison by career

criminals and adopted by others (Sutherland & Cressey,

1970). The norms value criminal behavior, and the inmate

social system is consistent with that of the criminal sub-

culture (Garrity, 1966). It follows that ". those

inmates who have thoroughly internalized a criminal value

system probably benefit most from an inmate culture based on

antipathy toward the staff" (Wheeler, 1966, p. 257).

The inmates who assume positions of power and influence

in the inmate social system are those most prepared for

those positions by past experience. They are those with the

most experience in exploitation and manipulation prior to

incarceration (Wheeler, 1966). They are the career criminals

and those who have committed the more serious offenses,

therefore, the long-termers. This being the case, the

status hierarchy in the inmate culture resembles a seniority

system (McCleery, 1966).

Conformity to the Inmate Culture

It is the long-termers, the more serious criminals, who

hold positions of power in the inmate culture, and the new

inmates must depend on them to meet their needs not met by

the official system. "The absence of official orientation

or published regulations, the secrecy and arbitrariness of

discipline, the shocking unfamiliarity of prison life and

the demands imposed by regimentation combined to make the

new inmate helplessly dependent on experienced men" (McCleery,

1966, p. 165). Senior inmates also have the knowledge of

secondary adjustments and the techniques for attaining them.

They hold the physical goods and know the ways to make

prison life tolerable, and can share them on their own

terms. "This control over the rites and tests of initiation

gave senior inmates the power to assign new men a subordinate

status and hold them there until they accepted the norms of

inmate culture (McCleery, 1966, p. 165).

In the process of adjustment to prison, most prisoners

find they must adhere to, or at least be accepted by, the

inmate culture (Sutherland & Cressey, 1970). "The inmate

who values friendship among his peers and also desires to

conform to the staff's norms faces a vivid and real role

conflict. The conflict is not apparent or perhaps is not

felt so intensely during the earliest stages of confinement,

but with increasing length of time in the prison the strain

becomes more acute; inmates move to resolve the strain

either by giving up or being excluded from primary ties, or

by shift in attitudes" (Wheeler, 1961, p. 704). Since

inmates perceive the attitudes of other inmates to be more

opposed to the staff than they actually are, probably due to

the vocal minority of powerful senior inmates, inmates who

initially conform to staff norms do not even attempt to seek

out like-minded individuals (Wheeler, 1961). By the time

they reach the crisis in role conflict cited by Wheeler

above, they perceive their choice as alliance wih the non-

conforming inmate culture, involving an attitude change, or

social isolation. "The dominant tendency is to move in the

direction of non-conformity rather than isolation" (Wheeler,

1961, p. 704). In addition, Sutherland & Cressey (1970)

note that "In a system of friendships, mutual obligations,

statuses, reciprocal relations, loyalties, intimidation,

deception, and violence, inmates learn that conformity to

prisoner expectations is just as important to their welfare

as is conformity to the formal controls extended by

'outsiders.' Powerful prisoners insist that inmates be

orthodox in their statements and actions. And orthodoxy is

more important in prison than in outside life, because in

outside life a person has freedom of mobility not possible

in prisons" (p. 532).

Primary Group Affiliation

Clemmer (1958) stated that ". it is through the

influence of relationships in groups that individuals become

persons. What we call personality is, in a large part,

group bred" (p. 112). The most influential groups in the

molding of human nature are the so-called "primary groups."

Cooley (1909) defines primary groups as those ". . charac-

terized by intimate face-to-face association and co-operation.

They are primary in several senses, but chiefly that they

are fundamental in forming the social nature and ideals of

the individual. The result of intimate association, psycho-

logically, is a certain fusion of individualities into a

common whole, so that one's very self, for many purposes at

least, is the common life and purpose of the group" (p. 23).

Clemmer (1958) noted that inmates form intimate social

relationships, comparable to the relationships within a

primary group in free society, based on like experiences,

stigmatization, and sharing a subservient position. He

empirically constructed the concept of the "prison primary

group," which he defines as ". . a collectivity of pris-

oners who possess a common body of knowledge and interest

sufficient to produce an understanding and solidarity which

is characterized by a we-feeling, sentimental attachment,

and unanimity, and which allows, at the same time, elements

of competition and resistance among members only to the

extent that cohesion is not disrupted" (p. 115). In his

study of prisoners, 17 percent were considered members of

prison primary groups, 40 percent were considered members

of semi-primary groups (the same as primary groups

except that members expected the bonds to weaken after

release from prison, particularly with regard to willing-

ness to protect and defend other members), and 41 percent

were considered ungrouped in the primary sense. Clemmer

found that his subjects who were members of prison primary

groups were younger, had a higher intellectual capacity, and

were more likely to have always been single, than his sub-

jects who were ungrouped. Also, those who had committed

serious or very serious crimes were much more likely to

become members of prison primary groups than those who had

committed trivial offenses when the seriousness of the crime

is determined by the amount of criminal experience of the

individual, evaluation of criminal technique, dangerousness

to society, harmfulness of the offense to the life adjustment

of the offender, and the psycho-social ramifications of the

crime on the family and friends of the offender. Increasing

length of incarceration has a negative effect on the likeli-

hood of prison primary group affiliation. Ungrouped men are

more likely to have strong ties with family and friends in

the free world (primary groups), to be asocial, or to be

rejected by all prison groups. Referring to the effects of

prison primary group affiliation, Clemmer (1958) states that

"The interaction in and about these groups, and the social

life that exists is part of the 'unseen environment' and has

much greater influence on individual personalities, we are

inclined to believe, than all the rules, official admonish-

ments, sermons, or other factors intended to guide lives"

(p. 295).

In summary, prolonged contact with the inmate culture

and group affiliation may effect personality change in

prisoners, usually toward the antisocial or criminal end of

the spectrum and away from the prosocial end intended by

prison administrations. As inmates come to oppose the

official prison organization and value their interpersonal

relationships with one another, inmate solidarity increases,

and the likelihood of the prison acting as an effective

agent of rehabilitation decreases.

Women in Prison

The vast majority of prison literature is concerned

with males. Since this study concerns women, the following

several sections contain a review of the research on the

experience of women in prison.

Women are significantly less likely to be arrested,

tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison than are men.

This has been explained, at least in part, by Western cul-

ture's protective attitude toward women and society's

reluctance to submit them to procedures deemed appropriate

for men (Ward Kassebaum, 1964, 1965). Wheeler (1975)

states that society is more tolerant of deviant behavior for

a longer period of time from women than from men before

incarcerating them. If a woman is convicted of a crime such

as murder, she will probably be sent to prison, but other

offenses generally must be committed repeatedly before

imprisonment results.

The above statement would indicate that the populations

of women's prisons are composed of more serious and/or

habitual offenders than are the populations of men's prisons.

However, Ward and Kassebaum (1964, 1965) found that women

prisoners generally have less extensive criminal experience

and less often have long histories of incarceration, includ-

ing training schools and reformatories, than their male

counterparts. This may be partially explained by society's

reluctance to convict and incarcerate females.

Statistically, women tend to be arrested and incarcer-

ated at an older age than men although there is a recent

trend toward incarcerating younger women (Hannum et al.,

1973). Ward and Kassebaum (1965) report that higher propor-

tions of women are imprisoned for murder, forgery, and bad

checks, while higher proportions of men are imprisoned for

burglary, robbery, and sex offenses. Commitments for nar-

cotics sales and possessions are of approximately equal


The Impact of Incarceration on Women

Because of society's protective attitudes, the impact

of incarceration seems more severe for women than for men

because it is more unusual. Ward and Kassebaum (1965) state

that "a consequence of this protection is that women are

less likely to be prepared to cope with the abrupt loss of

emotional support and guidance formerly provided by parent,

brother, husband, or boyfriend. Also, in a male dominated

economic world, many women obtain rewards or security by

manipulating a man to provide them. Penal confinement puts

women entirely on their own without the complementary male

roles with which they are actually or symbolically aligned

in the outside world" (p. 14). In describing the reaction

of women to incarceration, they note that "many of them have

played the generally dependent role characteristic of women

in our society and the removal of emotional support which

has been provided by parents, husbands or lovers is a shat-

tering experience" (1964, p. 162). This "pain of imprison-

ment," the lack of heterosexual relationships, seems to be

more serious for women than for men, because women are faced

not only with physical frustration, but also "the female

prisoner finds herself cut off from the structure of American

society conducive to the cultivation of a female role, from

the avenue through which she achieves self-respect and

status" (Giallombardo, 1966b, p. 99).

The deprivations or "pains of imprisonment" noted

earlier by Sykes for male prisoners apply to females as

well. Giallombardo (1966a) describes the pains of imprison-

ment for women as ". . the abrupt termination of the

individual's freedom; the lack of opportunity for hetero-

sexual relations--the fracturing of every influence favorable

to the cultivation of emotional reciprocity as a result of

being cut off from family and friends; withholding of materi-

al goods; attacks on the self through the humiliating experi-

ence incidental to a prison commitment; the loss of autonomy

and responsibility to which life in a prison inevitably

leads; and the lack of security, and privacy" (p. 273).

Ward and Kassebaum (1964) include in their list the lack of

information, support, and guidance from the institution; the

limitations on freedom of choice; the stigma resulting from

the process of status degradation; the insecurity and anxiety

resulting from indeterminate sentencing laws; and the lack

of experience in being incarcerated.

The physical surroundings of women's prisons are gener-

ally more pleasant than men's, and there is somewhat more

opportunity for individuality as women are permitted a

greater number and variety of personal items such as clothing

and jewelry. There is also a greater variety of canteen

items including not only food but make-up and toiletries.

But although the complete deprivation of personal possessions

found in men's prisons is not the case for women, Giallom-

bardo (1966 a & b) reports that mortification of self through

the attack on a woman's self-image with reference to clothing

is particularly acute because of the relatively higher

importance assigned to fashion by women.

Existence in a women's prison is highly structured and

regulated, depriving the inmates of freedom and autonomy

through such means as exaggerated standards of neatness and

cleanliness and the total imposition of a multiplicity of

rules to control behavior. This restriction on the inmate's

ability to make choices reduces her to the status of child-

like dependency (Giallombardo, 1966b; Gibson, 1976). Compar-

ing women's institutions to men's, Gibson (1976) remarks

that ". . the reduction of women to a weak, dependent, and

helpless status is brought about by more subtle means than

by the gun or the high wall" (p. 99). Although the means

may differ somewhat, women experience the same "role dispos-

session by mortification" and the accompanying status degra-

dation, and the same "deference" or "obedience test" aspects

of initiation as men (Heffernan, 1972).

Gibson (1976) found that despite the outward appearance

of the attractive facilities and peaceful surroundings of

women's prisons, the atmosphere inside is very tense and

oppressive. There is less danger of being physically attacked

or sexually assaulted by other prisoners than there is for

men, and little danger of physical maltreatment by the

matrons (Ward & Kassebaum, 1965). However, "You can't trust

another woman" is a powerful social tenet with which most

women are raised, and which remains in force throughout

incarceration. Giallombardo (1966a) summarizes, "Hence, it

is not so much the constant fear of violence or sexual

exploitation such as is the case for the male prisoner which

creates a hardship for the female inmates, but, rather, the

strain involved in being in the forced company of women who

are believed to be untrustworthy, capable of predatory

tactics" (p. 274).

The Incarcerated Mother

While the deprivations of material goods and security

may be somewhat less acute for women than for men, "the

dispossession of the familial roles of wife and mother and

the separation from family are more severe" (Ward & Kassebaum,

1965, p. 28). The incarcerated father knows that even

though his family feels his loss as breadwinner, his wife

can still care for the children. But when it is the mother

who is imprisoned, she loses her ability to fill what society

deems her most important role. If she is married, she must

ask her husband to assume responsibility for the care and

upbringing of the children in addition to his primary role

as breadwinner (Ward S Kassebaum, 1964, 1965).

The incarcerated mother is concerned not only with her

own feelings about being separated from her children, but

also with provisions for their caretaking and the effect the

separation may have on them. She worries about the quality

of care her children receive, and that they may be shuttled

from one caretaker to another. Caretakers may not bring the

children to visit, and if they do, the circumstances of the

visit are often frightening to the children. Children may

not understand what has happened and often feel rejected.

They may be teased or shunned by their peers. Custody may

be in question and there is often no legal authority to

enroll them in school or obtain medical care (McGowan E

Blumenthal, 1976).

If children are left with the father, he may experience

the role conflict cited above and look for another female to

assume the maternal role, or custody may be taken from him

and assigned to other relatives. If the father is not

present, or adjudged not responsible, the children may

become wards of the state (Ward S Kassebaum, 1964, 1965).

Sixty-eight percent of the women in the prison studied by

Ward and Kassebaum (1965) were mothers; they found that the

impact on women of separation from their families does not

lessen appreciably over the period of incarceration.

Homosexuality and Play Families

As is true for men, women in prison search for ways to

mitigate the pains of imprisonment and thereby adapt to the

institution. Ward and Kassebaum (1964, 1965) found that

women are less likely than men to actively rebel in prison

or to develop elaborate operations for obtaining and distri-

buting contraband. Instead, the main methods of adaptation

for women are psychological withdrawal, chronic fighting and

other rule violations, institutionalization or the acceptance

of prison life as a satisfying experience, and homosexuality.

Homosexuality is by far the most frequently chosen alterna-

tive. Commenting on this compensation for the pains of

imprisonment, the authors state, "Emotional deprivation and

lack of experience in fending for oneself combine in the

women's prison to promote one predominant compensatory

response, that of homosexual involvement" (1964, p. 166).

Brodsky (1975b) adds that "The sources of opportunity for

future jobs, living arrangements, child care, and communica-

tion with the family become less likely and less realistic

as the inmate is further detached from the community to

which she will eventually return" (p. 103). This weakening

of family ties leads to much situational anxiety and


The absence of men forces women to attach new meanings

to homosexual behavior in prison (Giallombardo, 1966b).

Homosexuality functions to resist depersonalization and to

compensate for the mortification of self. It makes the

inmate feel she is worth something because someone pays

attention to her and cares about her. In addition, in

prison, the homosexual relationship is the medium of exchange

(Ward & Kassebaum, 1965).

Roles which approximate the family unit develop around

homosexual relationships (Giallombardo, 1966a). These

marriages and other kinship ties form a meaningful system in

an attempt to create a substitute society within prison

walls. These "play families" openly involve homosexual

alliances, although physical sex is more discreet. They

provide a solution for affective needs as well as an economic

structure. Heffernan (1972) explains, "The development of

family units informally provides a rationale for a multi-

plicity of close relationships to relieve the tensions of

prison life as well as legitimating dependency and dominance

roles that would not be appropriate in other areas of staff

and inmate interaction" (p. 88). This kinship structure

binds inmates together into a cohesive system. For the new

inmate, this system provides a means of learning to adapt to

prison life, as it is one of the most important duties of

"parents" to socialize "children" to the role of inmate.

The system also functions to attempt to resist the destruc-

tive effects of imprisonment by enabling the inmate to

maintain an identity relevant to outside life (Giallombardo,


Male and Female Inmate Social Systems

The pains of imprisonment account for the existence of

inmate social systems for both men and women, but the forms

these systems take differ based on pre-prison experiences,

cultural background, and social roles. The inmate social

systems in women's prisons lack the sharply differentiated

role types found in men's prisons, and exhibit a lower

degree of cohesion or solidarity. The strong social soli-

darity based on automatic adherence to a set of norms which

is found in men's prisons is replaced in women's prisons by

a "calculated solidarity" which exists situationally based

on its perceived benefit to individual interests (Giallombardo,

1966a). Giallombardo (1966a) lists four major reasons for

the different content of male and female inmate social

systems: 1) different orientation of life goals, 2) differ-

ences in passivity and aggression, 3) social acceptability

of demonstrations of affection toward a member of the same

sex, and 4) cultural lore regarding members of the same sex,

e.g., "You can't trust another woman."

The tenets of the inmate code carry less weight in

female inmate cultures than in males. Ward and Kassebaum

(1964, 1965) provide two main explanations why this is so.

First, the conditions of imprisonment are less severe for

women and fewer of them are "con-wise," indicating less of a

need for the unwavering solidarity implied by the code and

less of the pre-prison background involved in its development.

Second, the code, as it exists in male institutions, reflects

more typically male needs, such as for status, independence,

autonomy, and a masculine self-image. While adherence to

the traditional male inmate code is lower among female

inmates, it is nonetheless present. Heffernan (1972) found

a "striking uniformity" in the norms of a female prison

population reflecting behavioral prescriptions for doing

time. Individual adherence to the code was high and its

acceptance considered necessary for "doing time well,"

although in practice violations were frequent.

The inmate code exists in women's prisons as well as in

men's, and arises from similar sources. Heffernan (1972)

states, "The exigencies of pattern maintenance and integra-

tion within the system require the development and acceptance

of a set of norms and values particularly adaptive to the

status changes and controls that imprisonment brings. These

codes of behavior function both to help the individual

prisoner do 'easy time' and to support the inmate economic,

affective, power, and status systems" (p. 108). These

systems represent an attempt to mitigate the pains of impris-

onment and the mortification of self inherent in prison

life. Involvement in the inmate culture enables the inmate

to regain what the prison structure has taken from her.

This is not, however, a simple substitution process of one

culture for another. Rather, the substitution of the inmate

culture for that of free society involves a ". .. fundamental

modification of societal values and norms, involving views

of authority, concepts of interpersonal relations (particu-

larly in sexual and familial areas), recognition of certain

property rights, and generally accepted bases of role evalu-

ation" (Heffernan, 1972, p. 164). For this reason, if no

other, adaptation to prison is antithetical to rehabilitation.

Brodsky (1975b) indicates that this adaptation is desirable

only for those who never again must function outside the


The Process of Prisonization

Clemmer (1958) originated the term "prisonization" to

mean "the taking on in greater or less degree of the folkways,

mores, customs, and general culture of the penitentiary" (p.

299). It implies a high value on ingroup loyalty, opposition

to the official prison system, and increased criminal identi-

fication due to the basically criminal character of the

inmate culture (Thomas S Foster, 1972). Garrity (1966)

notes: "Prisonization can vary from simply learning compli-

ant role behavior to internalization of the role behavior

and a changed self-conception" (p. 374). It is a specific

example of the more general process of assimilation that

occurs whenever a person is introduced into an unfamiliar

culture (Wheeler, 1961).

The process of prisonization begins when new inmates

must learn about and comply with the formal prison organiza-

tion. In this stage, inmates retain most of their pre-

prison attitudes and behaviors, but adapt their personal

habits to fit the regimentation of prison life. Gradually,

they are affected by more pervasive influences. They become

accustomed to being known by a number rather than a name and

wearing the same clothing as the others around them. The

inmate becomes an anonymous figure in a subordinate group

and suffers the corresponding status degradation.

Eventually, new inmates find that it is the prisoners

who control the quality of prison life, not the administra-

tors. New inmates learn and begin to use the slang or argot

which has developed among prisoners as a distinguishing

symbol. They come to assign new meaning to the conditions

of life, and there is security in this realization that

nothing is owed to the environment for the supplying of

needs: food clothing, shelter, work, entertainment, recrea-

tion, and education. This slight change in attitude is

fundamental to the process of prisonization (Clemmer, 1958).

The final step in the process comes with the development

of new habits, behaviors, and attitudes. Prisoners learn to

gamble, engage in homosexual activities, and to hate and

distrust the prison staff. They accept the inmate code and

attempt to enforce it (Clemmer, 1958; Sutherland & Cressey,

1970). In summary, prisonization occurs when the inmate has

been stripped of symbols of personal identity and begins to

attach new meanings, supplied by the inmate culture, to the

conditions of life (Garrity, 1966).

Prisonization implies an assimilation into both the

social role continuum which constitutes the inmate social

system and the normative content of the inmate culture.

"Prisonization, the process of assimilation into this contra-

culture, is defined by both movements into one of a set of

inmate social roles and some degree of commitment to the

normative prescriptions and proscriptions of the contracul-

ture. Social role adaptations and normative assimilation

are in turn viewed as related to the development of attitudes

which oppose the prison organization, and placement of a

high priority on interpersonal relationships with other

inmates, and criminal identification (Thomas & Foster, 1972,

p. 234).

Two Models of Prisonization

Thomas and Foster (1972) present two models of prisoni-

zation: deprivation and importation. The models of the

process of prisonization occurring within the individual are

analogous to the models of the development of the inmate

social system within the entire prison population. The

deprivation model sees prisonization as an adaptive process

which attempts to mitigate the "pains of imprisonment." The

emphasis is on coping with the problems generated by the

immediate situation in which inmates find themselves, impris-

onment. The importation model emphasizes that assimilation

into inmate culture is influenced by factors external to the

immediate situation in which inmates find themselves. The

content of the inmate culture is based on the pre-prison

experiences of most inmates in the lower-class subculture,

the criminal subculture, and the subculture of violence

(Thomas S Foster, 1972). Assimilation into this culture is

influenced by external factors such as quality of contacts

with the outside world and expectations inmates have of

their life-chances after release (Thomas & Foster, 1972).

As with the development of the inmate social system, these

two models of prisonization are complementary. The depriva-

tion model defines the need for an adaptive process to

resolve the problems of incarceration while the importation

model defines the content of the adaptation in terms of

inmates' pre-prison experiences.

Clemmer's (1958) data indicate that the socialization

process occurring in prison is one of prisonization, the

progressive adherence to the inmate code and opposition to

staff expectations. Wheeler (1961) got somewhat different

results. He found that the predominant socialization process

operating was dependent upon institutional career phase.

Inmates' career phase is determined to be early, middle, or

late depending on how much time they have served compared

with the total amount of time they expect to serve, i.e.

incoming inmates are considered in early phase, inmates

close to release in late phase, and others somewhere in the

middle. By examining conformity to staff expectations,

Wheeler found a steady increase in the proportion of low

conformity responses, as would be expected from the prisoni-

zation model. But he also found a U-shaped distribution of

high conformity responses, indicating another process of

differential attachment to societal values based on career

phase. He hypothesized that the changes from early to

middle phase are a reaction to events within the prison,

while the changes from middle to late phase reflect antici-

pations of dealing with the outside world. Garabedian

(1963) termed this second process "adaptation," when inmates

in early and late phases conform to staff values and those

in middle phase deviate. Prison may be seen to impact

differently on different inmates, and the operative pattern

of socialization, prisonization or adaptation, seems to

depend on the inmate's social role within the prison

(Garabedian, 1963).

Factors Minimizing or Maximizing Prisonization

Clemmer (1958) states that every inmate is prisonized

to some extent, and that more inmates approach the complete

degree than the least degree of prisonization. There are

several factors which appear to maximize or minimize prisoni-

zation. Clemmer (1958) found that complete prisonization

depends on personality of the inmate, the type and quality

of relationships with people in the free world, affiliation

with prison primary or semi-primary groups, chance (through

placement in a certain cellblock or job assignment), and the

degree of acceptance of the inmate code. Faine (1973) found

that the self-concepts which inmates bring to the prison

determine both the likelihood and the direction of attitude

change which will occur. For those with deviant "social

anchorage," prisonization increased in linear fashion through

successive career phases. Those with low "social anchorage"

increased in prisonization during the middle phase and

decreased during the late phase. Those with legitimate

"social anchorage" showed no changes.

Clemmer (1958) stated that prisonization is directly

related to time served. Garrity (1966) agreed, stating that

a long sentence maximizes prisonization through a longer

subjection to the "universal factor of prisonization," to

be discussed later. Thomas and Foster (1972) found that

Prolonged interaction within the inmate society will result

in increased assimilation or prisonization" (p. 232).

Wheeler (1961) said that the degree of prisonization is

dependent on the degree of involvement in the inmate culture.

He found that initially there is no significant relationship

between involvement in the inmate culture and conformity to

staff values. But for inmates who become highly involved,

the percentage of high conformists drops off rapidly. The

process of prisonization is dependent on the socialization

of new inmates by old ones in the propagation of the inmate

code and social system (Reid, 1976). Wheeler (1961) found

that the speed and degree of prisonization are minimized for

those inmates who had positive pre-prison relationships,

those who have short sentences, those who do not affiliate

with prison primary groups, and those who are by chance

placed with inmates not integrated into the inmate culture.

Thomas and Foster (1972) stated that prisonization has

negative consequences both for the prison organization and

for the long-term life-chances for the inmate. Wheeler

(1961) found that prisonization affects inmates' self-

concepts as they come to adopt the inmate code, reject

society, and accept a conception of self as a criminal. The

degree of prisonization is the most important factor in

post-release adjustment. It is the central impact of the

prison on its inmates; the impact of an inmate society with

a view of the prison and the outside world which is dis-

tinctly harmful to rehabilitation (Wheeler, 1961).

The Universal Factors of Prisonization

Clemmer (1958) has cited several factors, applicable to

all prisoners, which cause, increase the degree of, and

hasten the process of prisonization. He has termed them the
"universal factors of prisonization." These factors include

acceptance of an inferior status; accumulation of facts

concerning the organization of the prison; the development

of somewhat new habits of eating, dressing, working, and

sleeping; the adoption of local language; the recognition

that nothing is owed to the environment for the supplying of

needs; and the eventual desire for a good job within the

prison. No inmate can remain completely unprisonized because

incarceration necessarily includes subjection to these

universal factors of imprisonment (Wheeler, 1961). The

longer this subjection continues, i.e. the longer the period

of incarceration, the greater the degree of prisonization

(Clemmer, 1958).

Referring to the universal factors of prisonization,

Clemmer (1958) said: "It is not these aspects, however,

which concern us most but they are important because of

their universality, especially among men who have served

many years. That is, even if no other factor of the prison

culture touches the personality of an inmate of many years'

residence, the influences of these universal factors are

sufficient to make a man characteristic of the penal commun-

ity and probably so disrupt his personality that a happy

adjustment in any community becomes next to impossible" (p.

300). Thomas and Foster (1972) cite three potential

consequences: 1) the development of attitudes which oppose

the formal organization of the prison, 2) the placement of a

high priority on interpersonal relationships with other

inmates, and 3) an increase in criminal identification.

"The phases of prisonization which concern us most are the

influences which breed or deepen criminality and antisocial-

ity and make the inmate characteristic of the criminalistic

ideology in the prison community" (Clemmer, 1958, p. 300).

The Effects of Incarceration

Thomas and Foster (1972) stated that the greater the

degree of assimilation into the normative culture of the

prison, the greater the negative effects of incarceration on

the inmate, in terms of personality disturbance and long-

term life-chances. Prosocial role adaptation is inversely

related to the negative consequences of prison. They also

found that the more negative the inmate's post-prison expec-

tations, the greater the negative effects of incarceration.

In 1780, prison reformer John Howard remarked that

incarceration in the British prisons of that day was the

most effective method of bringing about the destruction,

present and future, of their inmates. More recently, Gill's

(1952) data reveal that ". . confinement in a prison works

a profound change on the personality of the individual

offender" (p. 2). Garrity (1966) stated that a long exposure

to prison life leads to serious personality and social

difficulties. The results of research by Bauer and Clark

(1976) support their hypothesis that increased incarceration

has a harmful effect on personality.

Reid (1976) stated that prison destroys the inmate's

personal identity and assigns a new one of a lower order.

Bowman et al. (1974) found that incarceration depresses

positive concepts of self and strips the inmate of personal

identity. Sykes (1958) wrote that the deprivations and

frustrations of imprisonment "appear as a serious attack on

the personality" (p. 64), cause the "destruction of the

psyche" (p. 64), and "pose profound threats to the inmate's

personality or sense of personal worth" (p. 64). Garrity

(1966) stated that as time in prison increases, the person-

ality becomes less stable, and Gill (1952) adds that "person-

ality disturbances present on commitment are prone to exag-

geration under the stress conditions of prison life" (p.


While in general, it appears that prison does not

promote positive personality change (Bowman et al., 1974),

there are a couple of studies in the literature which report

mixed findings. Nieberding (1976) reported that incarcera-

tion alone does not produce changes in self-concept, but

rather it is the interaction between incarceration and

personality. The MMPI 4-8 type had more negative self-

concepts throughout incarceration than the 4-9 type, and had

poorer institutional and heterosexual adjustment. Osterhoff

(1974) studied personality change, as measured by the MMPI,

in youthful offenders during incarceration, and developed a

typology based on similarities in initial MMPI profiles. Of

the four types yielded, significantly different changes

occurred in different types. Incarceration had a positive

effect on the personalities of some inmates, a negative

effect on others, and no effect at all on others.

Garrity (1966) stated that "prison experiences, like

those of the child in family and peer group, may be suffi-

cient to shape attitudes, values, behavior patterns, etc."

(p. 362). Jacobs (1974) studied personality adjustment as a

function of time within the Colorado State Penitentiary to

determine whether psychopathology increased or decreased

during the first year of imprisonment. Using the Msikimins

Self-Goal-Other Discrepancy Scale-II (MSGO-II), it was

determined that inmates confined one year differed signifi-

cantly from those confined seven to eleven days, and from

those confined three months, on four of six factors: anxiety,

cultural rejection, interpersonal problems, and feelings of

paranoia. There was no significant difference in depression

or in the Grand Total Factor. The author concluded that

psychopathology, as measured by the MSGO-II, increased as a

function of time within the first year of incarceration.

Kozma (1972) compared short-term (six to eighteen months)

and long-term (over three years) prisoners using the Edwards

Personal Preference Schedule and the MMPI, and found that

while the prisoners showed an overall decrease in pathology

during incarceration, they retained the basic psychopathic

components of their personalities.

Banister et al. (1973) studied inmates sentenced to ten

years or more by a test-retest method on a general test

battery with an interval of 19.08 months. They found that

general intelligence was unchanged, perceptual-motor speed

declined somewhat, and hostility and introversion increased

significantly with the length of time served. Eysenck

(1964) found that incarceration increases emotionality which

potentiates antisocial habits, and Reid (1976) added that it

aggravates aggression, regression with dependency, resigna-

tion, and a fixation on, or obstinate clinging to, deviant

patterns. Gill (1952) found that "the prison environment

appears to foster, in the first offender, tendencies toward

sluggishness and apathy, rationalization and self-pity,

atypical and antisocial thinking, and increased indulgence

in fantasy as a substitute for active pursuits" (p. 53).

Wheeler (1961) found that increased length of incarceration

reduced the proportion of inmates who conform to staff


Zimbardo et al (1973) conducted an experiment in which

they simulated a prison environment. They found that the

dehumanizing procedures used, identical to those typical of

real prisons, had devastating effects on their "inmates"

(normal college students). Zimbardo (1972) reports that the

six days the experiment lasted undid a lifetime of learning,

suspended human values, challenged self-concepts, and evoked

pathology. In actual prisons, enough pathology is generated

to debase inmates' humanity, lower their feelings of self-

worth, and make it difficult for them to readjust to outside

society (Zimbardo, 1972).

Persons (1970) conducted a study to evaluate the psycho-

logical effects of a boys' reformatory on its inmates. He

compared first offenders (FOs) with recidivists (Rs), and

compared both with boys who had been institutionalized for a

long period of time (LIs). FOs and Rs were tested upon

admission (Time Period 1), and retested 20 weeks later (Time

Period 2). To examine the long-term effects of incarceration

he tested another group, the LIs, who had been incarcerated

at least eight months at Time Period 2 (X=9 1/2 months).

The instruments used were the Manifest Anxiety Scale (MAS)

and the Delinquency Scale (DS), which yields four scores:

PD (psychopathic delinquency), Ne (neurotic delinquency)

PD + Ne = DS, and PD Ne (a psychopathic measure).

On retesting, there were no significant differences

between FOs and Rs, and both were significantly more neurotic

and sociopathic than boys being admitted to the reformatory.

Persons' test-retest results on Rs showed that the additional

20 weeks of incarceration increased all three indicators of

sociopathy (PD, DS, and PD-Ne). This is consistent with

Wheeler's (1961) finding that a re-prisonization process

occurs among recidivists.

Persons' data indicate that FOs are very anxious and

afraid upon admission to the reformatory. This reaction

seems to subside as they adjust to the environment, but

thereafter, further incarceration leads to increased psycho-

pathology. The LI group was more anxious and neurotic than

the Rs on either testing and the FOs on retesting. He

concludes that length of incarceration increases neuroticism

and sociopathy. These factors should lead to a high recidi-

vism rate, which seems to be the case; at the time of the

study, this institution had a recidivism rate of 62%.

The Effects of Incarceration on Women

Most of the research cited above concerns the effect

prison has on men. Gibson (1976) states that ". . all

prisons are psychologically harmful, but the typical women's

institution inflicts graver damage, in spite of its more

attractive appearance" (p. 99), and that "imprisonment is,

if anything, less rational and more harmful for women than

for men" (p. 107). Prison presents a crisis for women.

Delinquent women are already characteristically weak, depen-

dent, and helpless. Incarceration severs the ties with

those on whom a woman depends, and she needs to learn to be

independent. But the prisons to which women are confined

demand dependence and discourage independence (Gibson,

1976). There seems to be no positive solution to this

crisis which attacks a woman's self-concept. Brodsky (1975b)

states that for women, the criminal justice system effects

the "process of incorporating the belief, 'I am a failure

and a criminal, so I might as well act like one'" (p. 101).

Criminal Identification

It is fairly commonly believed that prisons are crimin-

ogenic in nature (Garrity, 1966). This may be in part due

to the learning and development of criminal technique, but

the factors which seem most responsible are those discussed

previously which foster sociopathy. Prison robs its inmates

of self-identity and attacks self-concept. The self-concept

which is reconstructed in prison seems to be one which is

based on a concept of self as criminal. Self-concept has an

effect on future behavior. Reid (1976) reported a research

finding that favorable self-concepts direct individuals

toward law-abiding behavior while unfavorable self-concepts

direct them toward delinquent behavior. Maskin and Flescher

(1975) also found that lack of self-esteem is a primary

factor in the motivation of delinquent behavior, and that a

positive self-concept serves as an insulator against


Sutherland and Cressey (1970) have stated that "persons

become criminals principally because they have been rela-

tively isolated from the culture of law-abiding groups, by

reason of their residence, employment, codes, native capac-

ities, or something else, or else have been in relatively

frequent contact with a rival criminal culture. Consequently

they are lacking in the experiences, feelings, ideas, and

attitudes out of which to construct a life organization that

the law-abiding public will regard as desirable" (p. 359).

It follows that assimilation into the inmate culture, which

is in most respects similar to the criminal subculture,

would cause inmates to identify themselves as criminals.

Sykes (1958) described the development of a criminal

self-concept in the inmates he studied as follows: "Whatever

may be the personal traits possessed by these men which

helped bring them to the institution, it is certain that the

conditions of prison life itself create strong pressures

pointed toward behavior defined as criminal in the free

community. Subjected to prolonged material deprivation,

lacking heterosexual relationships, and rubbed raw by the

irritants of life under compression, the inmate population

is pushed in the direction of deviation from, rather than

adherence to, the legal norms" (p. 22). In fact, Bauer and

Clark (1976) found that long-term prisoners show signifi-

cantly higher scores than short-term prisoners on the K, D,

Pd, Sc, and Ma scales of the MMPI, determinants of habitual

criminalism, when the effects of age, race, and educational

level are partialled out statistically.

Thomas and Foster (1972) have described the process of

criminal identification as the willingness to accept the

label ascribed by society, the incorporation of that label

into self-definition, and the willingness to continue to

associate with criminals in free society. Wheeler (1961)

stated that the net result of prisonization is "the inter-

nalization of a criminal outlook, leaving the 'prisonized'

individual relatively immune to the influence of a conven-

tional value system" (p. 697).

Miller and Dinitz (1973) found that adherence to the

inmate code leads to recidivism. From the foregoing discus-

sion it would also seem that adherence to the code would

lead to stronger criminal identification. Thomas and Foster

(1972) found that the greater the degree of criminal identi-

fication, the greater the probability of criminal involvement

after release, and, consequently, a higher rate of recidivism

for those individual seems likely. Wheeler (1961) commented

that even inmates with no intention of pursuing a criminal

career return to associations with other criminals after

release because they provide a more supportive social setting.

Further crime and repeat incarcerations often result from

these associations.

Hassler (1972) admitted that prison does meet society's

demands to take criminals out of circulation for varying

periods of time, but "in most cases the criminal eventually

is released again, equipped with some new prison-acquired

skills and motivated by prison-enforced resentment" (p.

196). "By their reasoning, after an offender has been

subjected to unfair or excessive punishment and treatment

more degrading than that prescribed by law, he comes to

justify his act which he could not have justified when he

committed it. He decides to 'get even' for his unjust

treatment in prison and takes reprisals though further crime

at the first opportunity. With that decision he becomes a

criminal" (McCleery, 1953, p. 55).

It appears that the old conceptualization of prisons as

breeding grounds for crime may be fairly accurate. Wheeler

(1961) states that ". . if the (inmate) culture is viewed

as an outgrowth of the criminogenic character of inmates, it

is reasonable to expect a reinforcement process operating

throughout the duration of confinement. This is consistent

with the image of correctional institutions as 'crime schools'

(p. 708). Sutherland and Cressey (1970) noted this

phenomenon in the literature as far back as 1702, when the

Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge, Committee

on Prisons presented a report of its investigations titled

"Essays toward the reformation of Newgate and other prisons

in and about London." In addition to other conditions, the

report noted that "the old criminals corrupt the new"

(Sutherland Cressey, 1970, p. 315). Prolonged associations

within the inmate culture do indeed seem to effect change

within the individual, as well as in the inmate population.

Reduction of Variance in the Prison Population

The prison experience affects not only the individual

inmates, it affects the inmate population as a whole. The

main effect produced seems to be the reduction of variance

in the population. That is, not only do inmates change as a

result of imprisonment, but they change so as to become more

like one another.

Sutherland and Cressey (1970) noted the diversity among

newly admitted inmates as follows: "Among incoming inmates

there is a variation in the degree of resentment toward the

police, courts, county jail officials, or others; variation

in the extent of remorse; variation in the extent of fear,

bravado or defiance; and variation in other personal charac-

teristics acquired prior to imprisonment" (p. 537). Incoming

inmates are generally housed together for a certain period

of time for the purposes of orientation and initial medical

and psychological testing. After this period they are

released into the general population. A federal prisoner

remarked that after release into the general population "the

differences in manner, in speech and in apartness tend to

disappear. Prison is a very democratizing institution:

soon the psychopaths talk like the lawyers, and the lawyers

talk like the psychopaths (Anonymous, 1972, p. 144).

The official prison organization does much to reduce

the variance among inmates. This fact is noted by Ward and

Kassebaum in their study of a women's prison: "In prison,

the inmate is stripped of identifying and distinctive quali-

ties, capabilities, and symbols until she comes to resemble

all others around her" (1965, p. 75). The inmate culture

also functions to reduce variance in its requirement of

orthodoxy and uniform opposition to the staff. Most inmates

conform to the inmate culture, if not out of peer pressure,

then because if they do not conform, they will be faced with

the societal rejection and the pains of imprisonment miti-

gated by the inmate culture. In sociological terms, since

every culture permits only a limited number of types to

flourish, they are those that fit the culture's dominant

configuration. Most individuals will be sufficiently plastic

to the molding force of the culture to conform to its domi-

nant configuration; hence the reduction of variance and

development of the configurationall personality" (Benedict,


In 1946, George Bernard Shaw wrote of the propensity of

the prison environment to create the criminal type: "If you

keep one (man) in penal servitude and another in the House

of Lords for ten years, the one will show the stigmata of a

typical convict, and the other of a typical peer" (pp. 105-


The Personality of Prisoners

There have been several studies comparing prisoners'

personalities with those of the general population. There

seems to be general consensus that prisoners are signifi-

cantly different from normalss." Maskin and Flescher (1975)

found that delinquents report low self-esteem and a poor

self-image with little self-respect or sense of worth.

Eysenck and Eysenck (1973) developed a measure called the "P

scale" which differentiates prisoners from normals. They

found that prisoners score significantly higher than the

general population. High P scores indicate that the individ-

ual is solitary and does not care for people; is troublesome

and does not fit in; is cruel and inhumane; is insensitive

and lacks in feelings; is sensation-seeking; is hostile and

aggressive toward others; has a liking for odd, unusual

things; is foolhardy and disregards danger; and enjoys

making fools of others.

By far, the most commonly used instrument in the study

of prisoners' personalities has been the MMPI. Reid (1976)

summarized the literature comparing delinquents with nonde-

linquents and found that delinquents score especially high

on the psychopathic deviancy (Pd) scale. Gill (1952) found

the average order of MMPI scales in the studied sample of

prisoners to be: Pd (psychopathic deviate), Pa (paranoia),

Sc (Schizophrenia), Ma (hypomania), Hs (hypochondriasis), Hy

(hysteria), Pt (psychasthenia). Persons (1971) found the

most frequently occurring MMPI high points within the institu-

tion he studied to be (in order of frequency): Pd-D

(depression), Pd-Ma, Pd-Sc, and Pd-Hy. All studies indicate

the predominance of the Pd scale. In studying criminal

prisoners using the MMPI, Eysenck (1964) found that "it is

this Pd scale which, more than any other contained in this

inventory, discriminates this group from the normal control

groups or even from neurotic groups tested in hospitals" (p.


Male/Female Differences

The vast majority of research on incarcerated popula-

tions has been done on males. There has been little done on

the personalities of female prisoners (Eysenck & Eysenck,

1973; Panton, 1974). However, the literature does contain a

few studies of females, or studies comparing females with

males. Bowman et al. (1974) found that delinquent females

have more negative self-concepts than nondelinquent females.

Fry (1949) used the MMPI to compare male college students

with male prison inmates, female college students with

female prison inmates, and males with females. Female

prison inmates had higher scores than female college students

on all scales except Hysteria. Male prison inmates had

higher scores than female prison inmates on all scales

except Paranoia. Joestring et al. (1975) found that female

prison inmates had significantly higher IQs than male prison

inmates. They also found that male prisoners had signifi-

cantly higher scores than female prisoners on all MMPI

scales except L, K, and Ap, an empirically constructed

prison adjustment scale indicating an acting-out hostile

response to custodial stress and confinement marked by

deliberate violation of prison rules. Female prisoners

scored significantly higher than male prisoners on the Ap and

K scales.

The most extensive study comparing female prisoners

with males (Panton, 1974) found that females are more likely

to come from shattered homes, have greater difficulty in

their interpersonal relationships with family and peers, and

present a greater instance of marital incompatibility.

Twenty-four percent of the females had records of having

been treated for mental problems compared to twelve percent

of the males. Using the MMPI, Panton compared female prison-

ers who presented valid protocols with male prisoners,

matching them for other characteristics. He found that both

females and males had elevated Pd scales, which is charac-

teristic of prison groups. However, item analysis revealed

that males responded more frequently to items denoting

authority conflict characterized by resentment of social

demands and conventions, while females responded more fre-

quently to items implying feelings of isolation and lack of

gratification in social relationships. The males presented

a 428 (Pd, D, Sc) profile code, while the females presented

a 4628 (Pd, Pa, D, Sc) profile code. The relative importance

of the Paranoia scale (second in score magnitude for females,

ninth for males) is consistent with Fry's (1949) finding,

and indicates that female prisoners, much more than male

prisoners, are overly subjective, have greater sensitivity

of feeling, and have the feeling of being different and not

easily understood by others. Females scored significantly

higher than males on the Si (social introversion) scale

indicating that they are more deviant, more inclined to

withdraw from social intercourse, and feel less confident in

their ability to cope with the socioeconomic demands of

society. The significant elevation of the means for the

males on the Hs (hypochondriasis) and D (depression) scales

indicates that they are more prone to voice physical com-

plaints, more pessimistic in their outlook on life, and more

inclined toward irritability and emotional immaturity than


Racial Differences

In a study comparing the personalities of black and

white prisoners, Fry (1949) found no differences in MMPI

scale scores. However, in several other settings, several

other authors have found differences between blacks' and

whites' personalities using the MMPI. In an all-male popula-

tion of tuberculosis patients in a VA hospital, Hokanson and

Calden (1960) found that blacks scored significantly higher

on the Pd, Mf, Sc, Ma, L and F scales than whites. Miller

et al. (1961) compared black and white patients at a VA

mental hygiene clinic. They compared their results to those

of other similar studies and found that interaction effects

of race and the type of institution within which the research

was conducted accounted for most of the variance. On the

basis of race alone, Miller et al (1961) found that blacks

scored significantly higher than whites on the Sc and Ma

scales. McDonald and Gynther (1963) compared black and

white high school seniors from segregated schools to assess

differences based on race, sex, and socioeconomic factors.

Blacks scored significantly higher than whites on the L, F,

D, Mf, Sc, and Ma MMPI scales. An interaction effect revealed

that black females scored higher than white females on Mf.

There were no significant differences attributable to socio-

economic factors, indicating that racial differences found

are probably cultural, rather than economic. Gynther et al.

(1971) administered MMPIs to a southern, all-black community.

They found that the most frequent peak score for both sexes

was on Sc. The second most frequent was Ma for males and Pa

for females. For the most frequent two-point codes, Sc-Pa

and Sc-Ma were tied for males, and Pa-Sc, Sc-Pa, and Sc-Ma

were tied for females. Based on white norms, these codes

would be considered psychotic, yet they were the norm in the

community studied. Elion and Megargee (1975) studied the Pd

scale with male prisoners, and found that it validly differ-

entiates levels of deviance, but that the norms show racial

bias as blacks score significantly higher than whites. In

general, it appears that MMPI norms differ for the two

races, particularly with regard to the Sc and Ma scales.

Development of a Modal Personality

The literature suggests that increased accumulated time

in prison affects personality and increases psychopathology.

The greater the psychopathology of the personality, the

greater the criminal identification, and the more likely the

individual will return to crime after release and eventually

return to prison. After this return to prison, criminogenic

factors continue to operate to further increase psychopa-

thology, and a cyclical process ensues. For these reasons,

recidivists should be more deviant than first offenders.

Panton (1962) compared a habitual criminal group (inmates

serving their fourth felony prison sentence) with a nonha-

bitual group (inmates at least forty years old, serving

their first prison sentence, who spent at least twenty years

of their adult lives gainfully employed). He found the

habituals to have significantly higher scores on the Pd and

Ma scales of the MMPI than the nonhabituals. The habitual

group also had higher scores on the D, Sc, and Mf

(masculinity/femininity) scales although significance was

not obtained.

Bauer and Clark (1976) were also able to discriminate

recidivists from first offenders. They found that repeat

offenders scored significantly higher on the K, D, Pd, Sc,

and Ma scales of the MMPI than first offenders. They also

found that long-term offenders scored significantly higher

on these scales than short-term offenders. Because they

matched their subjects with respect to length of current

sentence, meaning that the observed differences were not due

to the sentences having been imposed on the basis of per-

ceived pathology, they were able to implicate length of

incarceration as a cause and not a result of the increased

pathology found. When they statistically partialled out the

confounding demographic variables of age, race, and educa-

tional level, the significance of the observed differences

increased, strengthening their conclusion that length of

incarceration is responsible for the increased pathology


Based on the concept of the configurational personality,

DuBois (1960) proposed the term "modal personality" to

designate central tendencies in the personalities of a group

of people which result when "potentialities are acted upon

by common cultural pressures" (p. 5). The study of the

relationship between personality and culture includes examina-

tion of certain psychological factors of individuals living

within that culture. The study of modal personality also

includes examination of the repeated and standardized experi-

ences, relationships, and values to which most individuals

in a given society are exposed. Statistically, modal per-

sonality is a profile of mean scores of a sample of members

of a given society on some instrument, measured upon a

common baseline (Zaccaria, 1967). Since prisoners constitute

a group of people subject to a common cultural milieu, it is

logical to assume the development of a modal personality.

In summary, the prison environment encourages the

development of a "modal personality" in inmates. This

personality is characterized by psychopathic deviance and

resembles the criminal or sociopathic personality.

The Sociopathic Personality

In 1952, the American Psychiatric Association defined

sociopathy or antisocial sociopathic personality (formerly

termed psychopathy or psychopathic personality) as "chroni-

cally antisocial individuals who are always in trouble,

profiting neither from experience nor punishment, and main-

taining no real loyalites to other person, group, or code.

They are frequently callous and hedonistic, showing marked

emotional immaturity, with lack of sense of responsibility,

lack of judgement (sic) and an ability to rationalize their

behavior so that it appears warranted, reasonable, and

justified (Reid, 1976, p. 162).

Eysenck (1964) defined the psychopath (or sociopath) as

one who has manifested considerable difficulty in social

adjustment over a period of many years or throughout life,

is not defective in intelligence nor suffering structural

disease of the brain or epilepsy, and has difficulties in

adjustment not characterized by behavioral syndromes known

as neuroses or psychoses.

Several authors have cited characteristics of sociopaths

(or psychopaths). Eysenck (1964) lists: defects of emo-

tional control, inability to profit from experience, impul-

siveness, lack of foresight, inability to modify infantile

standards of conduct, lack of self-reliance, unsatisfactory

adjustment to the group, inability to withstand tedium,

irresponsibility of character, and lack of understanding of

and refusal to obey social and moral rules. Reid (1976)

mentions: inability to form warm interpersonal relationships;

lack of a feeling of guilt; disregard for community or group

standards; lack of foresight; the virtual absence of moral

judgment; lack of superego; ego-centrism; lack of a life

plan; limited capacity for love and emotional involvement;

excessive dependency on others; sexual immaturity; and

emotional immaturity with an emphasis on immediate, not

deferred, pleasure. Gough (1948) includes: over-evaluation

of immediate goals as opposed to remote or deferred ones;

lack of concern over the rights and privileges of others

when recognizing that they could interfere with personal

satisfaction in any way; impulsive behavior, or apparent

incongruity between the strength of the stimulus and the

magnitude of the behavioral response; inability to form deep

or persistent attachments to other persons or to identify in

interpersonal relationships; poor judgment and planning in

attaining defined goals; apparent lack of anxiety and dis-

tress over social maladjustment, and unwillingness or inabil-

ity to consider maladjustment as such; a tendency to project

blame onto others and to take no responsibility for failures;

meaningless prevarication, often about trivial matters in

situations where detection is inevitable; almost complete

lack of dependability and of willingness to assume responsi-

bility; and finally, emotional poverty.

This, then, is the type manufactured by our prison



In the twentieth century, the field of corrections has

seen the advent of the concept of rehabilitation to replace

punishment of public offenders. Rehabilitation is not only

more humane, it is supposed to be more effective in solving

the problem of crime through the reformation of criminals.

But the ever-rising crime rate in our cities and the seventy

percent recidivism rate in our prisons indicate that it is

not. In fact, the literature reveals that our modern penal

system may have just the opposite effect.

The impact of incarceration on individual inmates is

great. Their self-concepts are damaged, self-esteem lowered,

and self-identity stripped by degrading and demeaning proce-

dures and a series of systematic deprivations and frustra-

tions. Attempting to mitigate these "pains of imprisonment,"

inmates develop an informal social system as a means of

acquiring status and a code of ethics to insure solidarity

in opposition to the prison staff.

Subjection to the prison environment, including both

the official organization and the unofficial inmate culture,

may have a harmful effect on prisoners' personalities. It

appears to elicit elements of sociopathy and pathology in

general, and increase criminal identification in individual

inmates. It seems to reduce the variance in the inmate

population through the creation of a "modal personality."

Our prisons appear to be criminogenic in nature.

Individuals incarcerated in them seem to develop personali-

ties which cause them to return to crime following release.

"Rehabilitation" appears not to be rehabilitating.


This study investigated changes in personality traits

of incarcerated women as a function of race and time served.

Both changes in MMPI mean scores and the variances within

the population were investigated. The subjects were female

inmates at the Women's Unit of the Florida Correctional

Institution at Lowell, Florida. Inmates having served a

previous state or federal prison sentence were excluded from

the sample. The personality traits studied were those as

measured by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory

(MMPI). All inmates are routinely given the MMPI upon

admission to the institution and these scores provided the

pretest data for this study. The data collected were ana-

lyzed statistically to ascertain changes among various

groups (based on race and time served) and within population

variance as a function of time served.


The following null hypotheses were tested:

H 1: No significant differences will exist in the mean

group MMPI scale scores of newly admitted inmates, inmates

who have served 3-6 months, and inmates who have served 9

months or more.

H 2: No significant differences will exist between the

mean group MMPI scale scores of black and white inmates.

H 3: No significant differences will exist between the

mean group MMPI scale scores of black and white inmates as a

function of time served.

Ho4: No significant differences will exist in the

variances of MMPI scale scores of newly admitted inmates,

inmates who have served 3-6 months, and inmates who have

served 9 months or more.

H 5: No significant differences will exist between the

variances of MMPI scale scores of black and white inmates as

a function of time served.

Subjects and Procedures

The subjects for this study were female prison inmates

incarcerated at the Florida Correctional Institution (F.C.I.),

Lowell, Florida. Only inmates housed in general population

at the Women's Unit were considered. Those inmates housed

at the honor facility and those in administrative or disci-

plinary confinement were excluded from the sample. From

this group, seventy-six (76) were excluded from the study

because their records indicated a previous state or federal

prison sentence.

The MMPI is routinely administered to all inmates

entering F.C.I. Any inmate who was not tested, or who

presented an invalid profile at the time of testing, was

excluded from the subject pool. Of the 348 first-time

offenders, 23 had not been tested upon admission: 16 because

of an inability to read at an advanced enough level (sixth

grade level), 4 were unable to be tested for medical reasons,

and 3 had refused testing. Of those inmates given the MMPI,

44 presented invalid profiles: 37 presumably for an inabil-

ity to read and/or comprehend the test items, and 7 for

unknown reasons.

These exclusions left the remaining sample pool at 281.

Every other inmate on this list was selected for inclusion

which yielded 141 subjects for this study.

Subjects for the "newly admitted" group were those

housed at "Reception and Orientation" at the time of the

study. The MMPI was administered to these subjects as part

of a regular battery of tests given by the staff psycholo-

gists. Of these 39 inmates, 6 had served previous state or

federal prison sentences and one presented an invalid MMPI

profile. Thus, 32 inmates (11 white and 21 black) made up

the "newly admitted" sample for this study. MMPI scores for

these subjects were obtained from the staff psychologists'


The remaining 141 inmates, selected in the manner

previously delineated, were given a brief verbal description

of the present study and advised of the confidentiality of

their responses. As dictated by the institution authorities,

they were also assured that participation was voluntary.

Forty-nine inmates chose to participate in the study and

were readministered the MMPI.

Previous research has reported few significant differ-

ences between research volunteers and nonvolunteers. Volun-

teers were found to be more moody, introverted, and possess

higher self-esteem than nonvolunteers, although not signifi-

cantly so (Riggs & Kaess, 1955; Maslow & Sakoda, 1952).

Lasagna and von Felsinger (1954) found volunteers in pharma-

cological research to be significantly more psychologically

maladjusted than nonvolunteers, yet it must be considered

that the primary motivation to volunteer for many of these

subjects was to obtain a drug which would provide relief

from their personality problems.

In studies specific to inmate populations, volunteers

were found to be loners and to have significantly higher IQs

than nonvolunteers (Arnold et al., 1970; Cudrin, 1969). In

comparing volunteers with nonvolunteers in both drug and

social-interest research, Wells et al. (1975) reported no

significant differences in demographic variables including

race, IQ, education, socioeconomic status, etc. Concerning

psychological characteristics, social-interest research

volunteers did not differ significantly from nonvolunteers

on the Adjective Checklist, the Lykken Anxiety Measure, the

Marlowe-Crowne Social Desirability Scale, the Rotter

Internality-Externality Measure, the Rigidity Measure, the

Buss-Durkee Hostility Inventory, the Garabedian Index of

Prison Socialization, or the Tittle 9 Tittle Conformity-to-

prison-code Measure. On the Feelings Self-Report Checklist,

social-interest research volunteers reported significantly

less intense feelings of hopelessness than the nonvolunteers.

The groups did not differ on the other seven scales.

Inmates decisions to volunteer for research are made

impulsively and are primarily motivated by the desire to do

something worthwhile or courageous, the desire to keep out

of trouble in the institution, and a moderate degree of

belief that volunteering will improve chances for parole

(McDonald, 1967; Weissman et al., 1972; Wells et al., 1975).

Factors encouraging inmate volunteerism include the lack of

other constructive activity, need for interesting and stimu-

lating experiences, and peer pressure (Arnold et al., 1970;

Cudrin, 1969; Wells et al., 1975). Factors discouraging

inmate volunteerism include suspicion of information from

"establishment" sources and problems in communication with

the research staff (Arnold et al., 1970; Weissman et al.,

1972; Wells et al., 1975).

In the present study, the subjects who volunteered to

participate were compared to the nonvolunteers on several

demographic variables. Volunteers were found not to differ

significantly from nonvolunteers with regard to race, age,

length of sentence or length of time served. In addition,

the MMPI scores of both groups upon admission to the institu-

tion (i.e. protests) were compared to determine initial

psychological differences. The volunteers did not differ

significantly from the nonvolunteers on any MMPI scale

including the K-scale which detects the tendency to give

socially desirable responses. Therefore, the volunteers for

this study appear to be representative of the general prison

population as far as state guidelines permit comparison.

The data collected in this manner were then arranged

into groups according to the length of time the subjects had

been incarcerated. The group of inmates who had served

between 3 and 6 months consisted of 27 subjects, 11 white

and 16 black. The group having served 9 months or more

consisted of 22 subjects, 6 white and 16 black. The fre-

quency distribution of the races in the three subgroups

(newly admitted inmates, inmates who had served between 3

and 6 months, and inmates who had served 9 months or more)

did not differ significantly, X2(2)=.98, p<.60. Any possible

effects of this nonorthogonal design were accounted for sta-

tistically in the analysis of the data.

Previous research has shown a significant increase in

psychopathology in inmates' personalities within the first

few months of incarceration (Gill, 1952; Garrity, 1966;

Persons, 1970). Gill's data indicate that this change has

already begun to occur at three months.


The instrument used in this study is the Minnesota

Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). It is a personal-

ity test designed to provide an objective measure of psycho-

pathology. It contains 566 items to be answered "true,"

"false," or "cannot say." The items yield fourteen scales.

The first ten scales, termed the clinical scales, refer to

specific personality characteristics. The final four scales

deal with the reliability and validity of the individual

administration of the test, but also give meaningful informa-

tion about personality. A description of each scale follows:

1-Hypochondriasis (Hs): excessive concern for health

or bodily functions which restricts one's range of activities

and interpersonal relationships. High scores on this scale

indicate egocentrism, immaturity, and a lack of insight.

2-Depression (D): High scores on this scale indicate

pessimism, feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness, slowing

of thought and action, and preoccupation with death or


3-Hysteria (Hy): the use of physical symptoms as a

means of solving conflicts or avoiding responsibilities.

4-Psychopathic deviate (Pd): High scores on this scale

indicate a repeated and flagrant disregard for social customs

and mores, conflict with authority, resentment of social

demands and conventions, lack of a sense of responsibility,

inability to profit from punishing experiences, feelings of

isolation, a lack of gratification in social relationships,

and emotional shallowness, particularly in sexual and affec-

tional display.

5-Masculinity/Femininity (Mf): male sexual inversion.

For males, high scores on this scale indicate feminism in

values, attitudes and interests, and styles of expression

and speech, as well as in sexual relationships. For females,

interpretation is ambiguous.

6-Paranoia (Pa): delusional beliefs of reference,

influence, and grandeur. High scores on this scale indicate

misperceptions or misinterpretations of one's life situation

markedly out of keeping with ability and intelligence.

7-Psychasthenia (Pt): obsessive-compulsive syndrome.

High scores on this scale indicate obsessive ruminations,

compulsive behavioral rituals, abnormal fears, worrying, a

difficulty in concentration, guilt, excessive vacillation in

making decisions, high standards of morality, self-criticism,

and aloofness from personal conflicts.

8-Schizophrenia (Sc): bizarre or unusual thinking and

behavior. High scores on this scale indicate constraint,

coldness, apathy, indifference, delusions, hallucinations,

disorientation, inactivity, withdrawal of interest from

other people or objects, social alienation, and feelings of


0-Social introversion (Si): withdrawal from social

contacts and responsibilities. High scores on this scale

indicate little real interest in people and a withdrawn


Cannot say (?): the number of items omitted or double-

marked. High scores on this scale indicate an inability to

comprehend the content of the item, lack of co-operation,

anger, alienation, hostility, or defensiveness.

Lie (L): identifies deliberate efforts to evade answer-

ing honestly. High scores on this scale indicate a denial

of aggression, bad thoughts, weakness, poor self-control,

prejudice, or dishonesty in an effort to make oneself look


Infrequency (F): unusual responses to items nearly

always answered in one direction by the standardization

group. High scores on this scale indicate an atypical or

deviant way of answering items.

Correction (K): identifies subtle score-enhancing or

score-diminishing factors and provides a means of statis-

tically correcting the scores on the clinical scales to

offset these effects (Dahlstrom et al., 1972; Panton, 1974;

Eysenck, 1964; Joestring et al., 1975).

Validity and Reliability

Ellis (1946) has described the MMPI as one of the most

valid instruments available for the assessment of personality.

Hathaway and McKinley (1951) found that a high score on any

particular scale correlated positively with clinicians'

final diagnosis in 60% of new psychiatric admissions.

Measurements of the MMPI's validity as a personality assess-

ment instrument are generally made on the individual scales.

Rotter (1949) reported satisfactory differentiation between

patients of a given nosology, unselected patients, and

normals based on MMPI scores. Endicott and Endicott (1963)

found a significant but minimal correlation between scale 1

(Hs) scores and clinicians' ratings of somatic preoccupation

of military personnel and their dependents manifested in

independent interviews (.31). Endicott and Jortner (1967)

found correlations of .23 and .37 between scale 1 scores and

manifested somatic preoccupation in two studies of psychi-

atric patients. In separate studies of psychiatric patients,

Endicott and Jortner (1966) and Zuckerman et al. (1967)

found correlations of .51 and .59 respectively between scale

2 (D) scores and clinicians' ratings of depression. Between

self-ratings of depression and scale 2 scores, correlations

of .69 to .72 have been found (Zung, 1967; Zung et al.,

1965; Morgan, 1968). McKinley and Hathaway (1944) express

the difficulty of validation of scale 3 (Hy) scores because

of the possibility of a covert physical basis for symptoms.

Little and Fisher (1958) found a strong negative correlation

between the somatic items and the social facility items of

scale 3 among normals and a significant positive correlation

among psychiatric patients, thereby distinguishing the two

groups. Items on scale 4 (Pd) were selected for their

ability to distinguish delinquents from normals. Several

studies have shown the ability of scale 4 to make this

discrimination (Hathaway & Monachesi, 1963; Capwell, 1945 a

and b; Wirt Briggs, 1959; Richardson & Roebuck, 1965).

Scale 5 (Mf) has been shown to identify sexual inversion in

males (Terman 9 Miles, 1936), but its meaning is ambiguous

for women and this scale appears to have little validity for

them (Dahlstrom et al., 1972). Endicott et al. (1969) found

correlations of .19 and .29 between scale 6 (Pa) scores and

clinicians' ratings in separate studies. Items on scale 7

(Pt) were selected to distinguish patients manifesting

obsessive-compulsive syndrome from normals. Many of the

items correlate highly with overall scale 7 score; items

whose content reflects aspects of this syndrome show corre-

lations of .67 to .73 with overall scale 7 scores, indicating

their validity (Little, 1949). Items on scale 8 (Sc) were

selected and revised to distinguish schizophrenic patients

from normals. Items whose content reflects obvious schizo-

phrenic symptoms correlate .64 to .71 with overall scale 8

scores (Little, 1949). Items on scale 9 (Ma) were selected

to distinguish hypomanics from normals, and McKinley and

Hathaway (1944) report that it is an effective differentiator.

Items selected for scale 0 (Si) were those which distin-

guished subjects scoring above the 65th percentile from

subjects scoring below the 35th percentile on the social

introversion-extroversion subscale of the Minnesota T-S-E

Inventory (Drake, 1946).

The MMPI also contains four scales (?, L, F, and K)

termed validity indicators which provide information on the

validity of the individual test administration, and identify

sources of invalidity.

Considerably more research data have been published on

the reliability of the MMPI than on its validity. The

results of some of the test-retest reliability studies are

reported in the Appendix.

Data Analysis

An analysis of variance was performed on the protests

of the three groups to assure their equivalence at the time

of their admission to the institution.

An analysis of variance was then performed on the

protests and posttests (for the subjects in the 3-6 months

and 9 months groups) to determine 1) changes in MMPI scale

scores as a function of time, 2) differences between blacks

and whites, and 3) differences between blacks and whites as

a function of time, i.e. interactional effects of time and

race. A Duncan's multiple range test was conducted to

further explore significant time differences. Simple effects


tests were conducted to further explore significant interac-

tion effects.

A test of homogeneity of within group variance-covariance

matrices was performed to assess significant differences in

variances as a function of time and/or race.

The results of these analyses are presented in Chapter



The present study examined two factors as they relate

to personality change in incarcerated women: race and

length of incarceration. The subjects were female inmates

at the Florida Correctional Institution at Lowell, Florida,

serving their first prison sentence. The aspects of person-

ality studied were those measured by the ten scales of the

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI). The

MMPI is routinely administered to prison inmates upon admis-

sion to a Florida correctional facility. This initial

testing provided the pretest data for this study. Subjects

were retested and their scores analyzed on the basis of race

and amount of time served between the pretest and posttest.

Personality changes were tested using an analysis of variance,

and changes in group variances were tested using a test of

homogeneity of within group variance-covariance matrices.

Results of these statistical analyses are presented in this


Analysis of Pretests

An analysis of variance was conducted on the protests

of all three groups to assure their equivalence. On the

basis of time served, the groups showed no significant

differences on any of the ten scales of the MMPI except

scale 5 (masculinity/femininity). Analysis of scale 5

revealed that scores for the "newly admitted" group differed

significantly from the scores of the 3-6 months and the 9+

months groups (see Table 1). Because of the relatively

short time intervals separating the groups, this difference

probably reflects sampling error rather than any meaningful

trend in masculinity/femininity characteristics.

On the basis of race without regard to time served,

several scales yielded significant differences as a result

of testing. On scales 1(Hypochondriasis), 6(Paranoia),

7(Psychasthenia), and 8(Schizophrenia), blacks scored signif-

icantly higher than whites, indicating that the black inmates

in this study exhibited significantly more excessive concern

for health or bodily functions; maintained delusional beliefs

of reference, influence, and grandeur; revealed obsessive-

compulsive patterns; and showed bizarre or unusual thinking

or behavior when compared to the whites. On scale

5(Masculinity/femininity), the white inmates in this study

scored significantly higher than the black inmates in this

study, indicating that they were more feminine in values,

attitudes, and interests (see Table 2).

These results are not unexpected. Previous research

has shown that while the MMPI is valid for use with black

subjects, black norms are different from white norms as


Table 1. Differences on Scale 5 Pretest Scores as a Function
of Time Served.

Time Served

Newly admitted

3-6 months

9 months

F (5, 75) 4.32

S< .02

Scale 5 Means





Table 2. Differences on Pretest Scale Scores as a Function
of Race.

Scale 1 Scale 5 Scale 6 Scale 7 Scale 8

Black means 19.02 33.21 13.96 32.17 33.47

White means 15.07 36.07 11.68 28.50 26.93

F (5, 75) 7.99 7.15 4.92 6.86 12.46

L < .01 .01 .03 .01 .001

blacks tend to score higher on most scales (Gynther, 1972;

Elion 6 Megargee, 1975). The relationship of these scores

to normative data was of no consequence to the present study

and was therefore not discussed here. These initial differ-

ences between the races, however, must be taken into consid-

eration when interpreting posttest results.

Hypothesis Testing

H 1: No significant differences will exist in the mean

group MMPI scale scores of newly admitted inmates, inmates

who have served 3-6 months, and inmates who have served 9

months or more.

An anaylsis of variance was performed on the protests

and posttests (for the subjects in the 3-6 months and 9

months groups) to test the preceding null hypothesis.

On the basis of time served, the analysis indicated a

significant difference somewhere among the groups on scale

5(Masculinity/femininity). A Duncan's multiple range test

indicated that the "newly admitted" group was significantly

different from the other two groups (3-6 months and 9

months), which were not significantly different from each

other (see Table 3). Since these differences appeared in

the comparison of the protests, probably as a result of

sampling error, the significance shown in the posttests

cannot be interpreted with any confidence. It seems likely

that whatever factor was responsible for the effects shown

Table 3. Differences on Scale 5
of Time Served.

Posttest Scores as a Function

Time Served Scale 5 Means

Newly admitted 32.34

3-6 months 35.74

9 months 34.73

F (5, 75) 3.41

E < .04

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