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A comparison of adaptive behavior of mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates of the Florida Department of Corrections

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Title:
A comparison of adaptive behavior of mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates of the Florida Department of Corrections
Creator:
Smith, Craig Douglas, 1948-
Copyright Date:
1986
Language:
English

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Craig Douglas Smith. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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15351645 ( OCLC )
AEK4279 ( LTUF )

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Full Text
A COMPARISON OF ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOR OF
MENTALLY RETARDED AND NONRETARDED INMATES OF THE
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
By
CRAIG DOUGLAS SMITH

A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE
SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

1986




A COMPARISON OF ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOR OF
1ENTALLY RETARDED AND NONRETARDED INMATES OF THE
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
By
CRAIG DOUGLAS SMITH
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE
SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1986


This work is dedicated to Maribeth Smith,
my wife and friend,
and to the memory of the late Robert Wrenn.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Early in my program of doctoral study, I had occasion to seek
refuge in a certain corner of the library near the referenced
dissertations. I often would attempt to postpone my scholarly
duties by reading acknowledgements from works of students who had
passed before me. None of these students were known to me but I
was often moved at the outpouring of sentiment expressed to
acknowledge support and help they had received in the arduous task
of completing the dissertation. That said, it is now my time.
I wish to extend my sincere thanks to my supervisory committee.
They have provided me with the highest level of support, guidance,
and understanding. My chairman and friend, Rex Schmid, will have
my enduring gratitude and respect for his patience, support, and
humor. Above all else, Dr. Schmid approaches life's trials with a
special sense of proportion understood by few others. Bob Algozzine
has been living proof that scholarly criticism can be relevant yet
light-hearted. I would like to extend many thanks to Dr. Cary
Reichard for support, practical guidance, and friendship extended
during my stay at the University of Florida. Dr. Larry O'Shea
has given of his expertise freely in the true spirit of academic
collegiality and will be always warmly remembered. Dr. Phil Clark
iii


has provided me with insight into my own leadership and motivation
skills so I will, hopefully, not reprise some of my past blunders.
I thank them all for supervising my studies in a professional and
scholarly manner.
The impact of my fellow students should not go unmentioned. I
was fortunate to be touched by people who have enriched me. They
are too numerous to mention but too special to forget. Dr. Lee
Clark, Greg Valcante, Kim Stoddard, Tom Gollery, P. J. Hudson, Jack
Scott, and Pam Campbell will always have a special place in my memory.
Several other people have been influential on my personal and
professional development. Bill and Sue Evans have provided friendship
and guidance through difficult and pleasant times. They have had the
wisdom to know when to remain silent and when to offer advice. My
former superior officers at the Escambia County School System have
provided me with constant motivation in ways they will never realize.
I thank them. I am very grateful to Leila Cantara for typing this
work. Her patient advice during two periods of graduate work has
saved me from many acts of ignorance. I hope the many friends I have
failed to mention will forgive me for I realize that none of us are
self-made.
Final thanks are saved for my family for they have been my
greatest joy and source of strength. My children, Craig and Robbie,
have given me much more than I will ever be able to return to them.
I owe a staggering debt to my wife, Maribeth, for enduring what surely
has been a long and difficult path to completion of my goal. She
IV


has been an unfailing source of strenth, love, and friendship
throughout our time together. I am better for having had their
company in my journey through life.
v


TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iii
LIST OF TABLES viii
ABSTRACT ix
CHAPTERS
I INTRODUCTION 1
The Problem 5
Rationale
Development of the Prison System in the United
States 7
Alternative Methods for Treatment of Criminal
Behavior 8
Rehabilitation in the American Criminal Justice
System 10
The Relationship Between Mental Retardation and
Criminal Behavior 12
Rehabilitation of the Mentally Retarded Offender ... 13
Delimitations 15
Limitations 16
Definition of Terms 16
Summary 17
II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 19
Selection of Relevant Literature 19
The Nature of the Literature 21
The Efficacy of Rehabilitation Philosophy in
Corrections 23
The Mentally Retarded Offender 29
Prevalence of the Mentally Retarded Offender .... 30
Characteristics of the Mentally Retarded Offender . 37
Characteristics of the Incarcerated Mentally
Retarded Offender 41
Summary 45
vi
O


IllMETHODS
47
Subjects 47
Procedures 49
Task 1 49
Task 2 51
Independent Variable 54
Dependent Variables 54
Data Analysis 55
Summary 56
IVRESULTS 57
Descriptive Statistics of Sample Groups 57
Demographic Characteristics of Sample Groups .... 58
Educational Characteristics of Sample Groups .... 61
Criminal History for Sample Groups 63
Analysis of Adaptive Behavior 65
Results of Task 1 66
Results of Task 2 69
Summary 71
VDISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS 73
Review of the Study 73
The Problem 73
Summary of the Method 74
Problems and Limitations 74
Discussion and Implications 75
Descriptive Statistics of Sample Groups 76
Results of Task 1 82
Results of Task 2 86
Significance of the Study 90
Suggestions for Further Research 93
REFERENCES 96
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 102
vii


LIST OF TABLES
Table Page
1 The Efficacy of Rehabilitation Philosophy in
Corrections 24
2 Characteristics of the Mentally Retarded Offender ... 31
3 Design Schema 52
4 Demographic Characteristics of Sample Groups 59
5 Educational Characteristics of Sample Groups 62
6 Criminal History of Sample Groups 64
7 Adaptive Behavior Cluster Skills 67
8 Results of Task 1 68
9 Mean Number of Disciplinary Reports 70
10 Demographic Characteristics Reported for the Mentally
Retarded Offender 78
11 Educational Characteristics Reported for the Mentally
Retarded Offender 81
12 Criminal History Reported for the Mentally Retarded
Offender 83
viii
O


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
A COMPARISON OF ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOR OF
MENTALLY RETARDED AND NONRETARDED INMATES OF THE
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
By
Craig Douglas Smith
August, 1986
Chairman: Rex E. Schmid
Cochairman: Robert F. Algozzine
Major Department: Special Education
The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of
programming for adaptive behavior deficits of mentally retarded
prison inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections. The problem
investigated in this study was, "does the Florida Department of
Corrections prison program compensate for postulated adaptive behavior
differences between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates?" Two
tasks were proposed to investigate this problem. The purpose of
task 1 was to identify the manner and frequency with which adaptive
behavior was provided for in the Florida Department of Corrections
rehabilitation plans for mentally retarded inmates. The purpose of
task 2 was to see if differences existed in adaptation to prison
regime between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates as measured
by disciplinary reports in prison.
IX


The sample for Group 1 (mentally retarded inmates) consisted of
439 cases selected to represent the "typical" or most frequently
occurring mentally retarded inmate in the Florida prison system based
on characteristics of sex, age, and commitment offense. Group 2
(matched nonretarded inmates) was comprised of 439 cases randomly
selected from the population of nonretarded inmates that had the
same selection criteria as Group 1. Group 3 (unmatched nonretarded
inmates) was comprised of 439 cases randomly selected from the population
of nonretarded inmates.
Characteristics of adaptive behavior that relate to prison
populations were compared with rehabilitation plans of selected mentally
retarded inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections to complete
task 1. Group means for number of disciplinary reports received by
mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates were calculated and compared
to complete task 2. One-way analysis of variance and Tukey's test
were used to determine statistical significance.
Results of this study suggested that mentally retarded and
nonretarded prison inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections
adjust to prison regime in a similar manner. The results of this
study suggested that behavior in prison was similar across certain
measures for mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates. Further
research was recommended.
x


CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
More than 350,000 persons were incarcerated in federal and state
prisons at any given time in the 1970s (United States Department of
Justice, 1980) with the majority undereducated, underskilled, and
from culturally or financially impoverished backgrounds (Reichard,
Spencer, § Spooner, 1982). The United States Department of Justice
noted in 1980 that median educational achievement level for the
general population was 10.6 years as opposed to only 8.6 years for the
nation's inmates. The incidence of current inmates with no vocational
skills was five times the national average with 90% earning less than
$5,000 per year prior to incarceration as compared with 56% of the
general population at the same income level. To generalize these
findings to the criminal population at large, however, is to assume
the incarcerated population is a representative sample of the criminal
population. This is not necessarily so. There were approximately
6.5 million arrests in the United States during 1980, yet state
correctional facilities only received about 75,000 convicted felons
in the same year (United States Department of Justice, 1980). While
it is recognized that some arrests involved apprehension of the same
individuals more than once, it would appear that no more than 1% of
arrested individuals were committed to state prison systems (Reichard
et al., 1982).
1


2
Mentally retarded inmates are a subpopulation within the
United States prison system (Reichard et al., 1982). Prevalence of
mental retardation in the general population has been estimated to
range from .2 to 2.4% (Tatjan, Wright, Eyman, § Keenan, 1973).
Several investigators since the late 1960s, however, have suggested
that prevalence of mental retardation in the prison population is
much higher (Reichard et al., 1982; Santamour § West, 1978). Using
national surveys, Haskins and Friel (1973) found a rate of 4.1% while
Brown and Courtless (1970) found the rate to be 9.5%. State surveys
have reported prevalence rates that varied from 7.9% (South Carolina
Department of Corrections, 1980) to 39.6% (Atlanta Association for
Retarded Citizens, 1975). Most investigators place the prevalence of
mental retardation in the prison population of approximately 10%
(Reichard et al., 1982). Brown and Courtless (1971) suggested that
subnormal intelligence may be a factor in determining the sentence of
criminal defendants. If this is the case, then disproportionate
numbers of mentally retarded offenders committed to prison should be
viewed as a sentencing alternative used by the courts rather than
evidence to imply that mental retardation leads to criminal behavior
(Reichard et al., 1982).
The prison systems that incarcerate these individuals often
emphasize rehabilitation of inmates (Cole, 1984). A consistent theme
in American corrections since the late 1800s has been that interests
of society are best served by rehabilitating criminal behavior. The
philosophy of rehabilitation suggests that criminal behavior can


3
best be reduced by addressing its causes. Rehabilitation programs
in prison systems often make use of educational and vocational
training designed to address interests and future needs of inmates.
Recreation, religious, and counseling programs are also used to
provide opportunities for inmates to affect changes in their behavior
while incarcerated.
The prison system in Florida is operated as part of the Florida
Department of Corrections. The Department of Corrections is
responsible for the custody, care, treatment, and supervision of
adult criminal offenders committed from the circuit court system of
the State of Florida. Rehabilitation programs operated by the
Department of Corrections include vocational training, academic
classes, counseling programs, recreational opportunities, and
employment in prison-sponsored industry and agriculture. The Florida
Department of Corrections has no legal control over the type of
individuals committed to its custody. It must accept any individual,
regardless of mental status, who is committed by the circuit court.
Mentally retarded prison inmates in Florida are not systematically
segregated for placement in specialized units. Inmates are classified
on the basis of age, sex, conviction offense, educational level, and
security classification or risk. Mentally retarded inmates are
identified by intelligence testing but not by adaptive behavior.
They are expected to comply with the same rules and regulations as
all other inmates in the department. The Florida Department of
Corrections believes this practice has a normalizing effect for


4
mentally retarded prisoners and considers it to be an advantage in
their treatment. This is not an atypical situation in prison systems
in the United States (Reichard et al., 1982; Santamour § West, 1982;
Smith, Reichard, & Nunnery, in press). There is evidence, however, to
suggest that this approach does not adequately address the needs of
the mentally retarded inmate.
Problems of overcrowding, criminal behavior, violence, and sexual
abuse exist in most prison systems. Several authors have suggested
that these problems are compounded by the behavior of the mentally
retarded inmate. Brown and Courtless (1971) reported that departments
of corrections often faced staffing problems and were not able to
provide the individual services and protection required by the mentally
retarded prisoner. When special attempts were made to provide
adequate staff to address adjustment problems and behavior of the
mentally retarded inmate, manpower was diverted from the rest of the
population. Other unique problems were posed to prison administrators
by mentally retarded inmates. The South Carolina Department of
Corrections (1980) reported that
the developmentally disabled offenders suffered from the
system and, conversely, the system suffered from the
presence of this group. In a survey of correctional
officers and inmates, the developmentally disabled
offenders were reported to be frequently abused,
exploited, and manipulated by the brighter inmates.
Developmentally disabled offenders were perceived to
be highly impressionable, and were said to learn
criminal behaviors of which they were previously naive.
The correctional system was reported to suffer from the
developmentally disabled offenders behavior. Deficiencies
in ability to function independently, to comprehend
regulations and procedures, and the continual need to
be protected from brighter inmates intensified problems
of an already overburdened security staff. (p. 4)


5
MacEachron (1978) noted that mentally retarded inmates were
often out of step with the dominant characteristics of the average
prisoner. The mentally retarded prisoner was victimized by more
sophisticated inmates and, because of their desire to be accepted,
the maladaptive consequences of their behavior frequently became
intensified as they assumed values of prison culture.
The Problem
Many prison systems, including Florida's, do not provide
specialized treatment for mentally retarded inmates. It is the
practice of the Florida Department of Corrections that deficits in
adaptive behavior caused by mental retardation are best addressed by
treating mentally retarded inmates in the same manner as inmates with
normal intelligence. The Florida Department of Corrections monitors
inmate behavior through a record of disciplinary infractions compiled
during incarceration. Disciplinary infractions provide a measure of
adaptive behavior in areas such as aggression, compliance with
authority, narcotics and alcohol abuse, and adherence to prison rules.
If this approach is effective in compensating for adaptive
behavior deficits of mentally retarded prisoners, there should be no
group differences in the behavior of retarded and nonretarded inmates.
Therefore, the problem under investigation in this study is, "does
the Florida Department of Corrections prison program compensate for
postulated adaptive behavior differences between mentally retarded
and nonretarded inmates?"


6
Specific questions to be answered in this investigation
include the following:
1. Which adaptive behaviors are addressed in rehabilitation
plans for mentally retarded inmates in the Florida Department of
Corrections?
2. What are the provisions made by the prison system to
compensate for these behaviors?
3. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for disobeying orders differ from the number of
disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
4. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for attempted escape differ from the number of
disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
5. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for assaulting a correctional officer differ from the
number of disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
6. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for assaulting an inmate differ from the number of
disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
7. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for possession of narcotics differ from the number
of disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
8. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for possession of alcohol differ from the number of
disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?


7
9. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for failure to maintain personal hygiene differ from
the number of disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
Rationale
Attempts to correct aberrant social behavior have taken several
forms during the course of western civilization with references to
vengeance and retribution against societal misfits and criminals
appearing throughout recorded history. Initially, acts of revenge
were carried out by relatives or, ultimately, by the tribe of the
injured party. Later the state took responsibility for penalizing
offenders. For many centuries corporal and capital punishment were
the methods used to correct deviant behavior. Imprisonment began in
Europe as part of the social-welfare system during the 1400s.
Indigents were sentenced to periods of confinement to provide labor
for agriculture and public works. Use of physical punishment and
execution to address criminality remained the norm in Europe and the
United States throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
(Newman, 1978). Imprisonment for criminal behavior, however, was not
widely used until the late 1700s.
Development of the Prison System in the United States
The American prison system began in the 1600s as a means for
addressing poverty rather than criminal behavior. The county work
house resembled a modern prison in terms of purpose if not structure
and was designed to correct behavior, rehabilitate the individual, and
make a productive community member. The religious values of the day


8
permitted understanding and acceptance of "deserving poor" while
the "undeserving poor"--the willfully idle, insane, and mentally
subnormal--were viewed as a threat to community stability and welfare.
These attempts by the community to correct threats to social order
became part of the formal legal codes by the late 1600s (Walker, 1980).
The first institutions used to incarcerate criminals were
established in New England during the early 1700s. The prevailing
Calvinist doctrines that stressed the natural depravity of man and
the power of the devil did not allow optimism about reforming the
criminal. The colonists believed that only severe punishments held
any hope for reducing criminal behavior (Rothman, 1971). These
prisons received their primary impetus from organized religion and
reflected punitive aspects associated with the religious dogma of
the period. The prevailing correctional practice at that time was
to place individuals whose lives were disordered into a highly
structured setting where they could learn self-control. Silence was
supposed to encourage the offender to become penitent, hence the name
penitentiary for the prison. By the 1820s prisons were the principle
American method for correcting criminal behavior and incarceration was
established as a method to prevent crime.
Alternative Methods for Treatment of Criminal Behavior
Society's increased use of incarceration to prevent crime and
correct undesirable social behavior resulted in the overcrowding
of prisons. Early release was first used to address this overcrowding.
Sentences to periods of labor for indigence were often shortened by


9
apprenticeship or indenture. Two methods for shortening sentences of
adult criminals were pardon and commutation which were liberally used
during the nineteenth century in the United States. Wines and
Dwight (1867) reported the incidence of pardon and commutation
increased in proportion to length of sentence. Of all prisoners in
Massachusetts, approximately 12% received pardons or commutations
between 1828 and 1866. The percentage increased from 20.5% for
inmates with sentences of 5 to 10 years, to 32% for those with
sentences longer than 10 years, and 50% for inmates sentenced to life
imprisonment.
Parole was the release of an inmate from prison upon evidence
of rehabilitation and originated in the English criminal justice
system. In 1837, the English Parliament authorized a system whereby
criminals were sent to penal colonies in Australia. Each prisoner's
behavior was systematically evaluated while in the penal colonies and
satisfactory compliance with prison rules resulted in release from
sentence after several years (Hibbert, 1968). In Ireland, parole was
a system of progression from solitary confinement through five
classifications ending in a period of time at a halfway house.
Successful adjustment at the halfway house resulted in release from
sentence (Lindsey, 1925).
Parole and indeterminate sentencing in the United States developed
in an ad hoc manner, often as an expedient solution to a unique case.
Laws creating the indeterminate sentence and parole in the late 1800s
formalized existing practices of many local courts and prisons. The
<9


10
first parole system in the United States was established in 1877 in
New York state. This set a precedent for control of the prisoner for
the maximum term of sentence or until evidence of rehabilitation was
displayed (McKelvey, 1977). New York was the first state to
systematically grade inmate behavior by mandating use of indeterminate
sentencing and parole.
The indeterminate sentence and parole often developed as
separate entities in the late 1800s. Some states adopted both
concepts while others used one without the other. Development was
further complicated by specific provisions in several states for
maximum and minimum sentences. By 1900, 11 states used the
indeterminate sentence and another 20 states had some form of parole
or conditional release (Lindsey, 1925). All states used indeterminate
sentences and parole by 1936 (Walker, 1980).
The Concept of Rehabilitation in the American Criminal
Justice System
American prison systems began to emphasize rehabilitation of
criminal behavior during the last two decades of the 1800s with the
concept of rehabilitation first expressed in writing by the National
Congress of Penitentiary and Reformatory Discipline in 1870 (McKelvey,
1977). The National Congress later became the American Correctional
Association which formulated 37 principles, many of which remain the
basis for rehabilitation philosophy, i.e., indeterminate sentences,
cultivation of the inmate's self-respect, classification of prisoners,
reformation rather than punishment, and development of programs to
make industrious free men rather than orderly and obedient prisoners
(McKelvey, 1977).


11
The sharpest current controversy in corrections focuses on the
efficacy of rehabilitation programs. Several authors have questioned
the value of its practice (Fogel, 1975; Kasselbaum, Ward, § Wilner,
1971; Martinson, 1975). Most current criticism of rehabilitation in
corrections is based on the work of Robert Martinson (1975).
Martinson reviewed over 200 research reports pertaining to rehabilitation
programs and concluded that rehabilitation efforts had no effect on
recidivism. Kasselbaum, Ward, and Wilner conducted an earlier survey
in 1971, and reported it was impossible to make a case for positive
effects of rehabilitation efforts. Proponents of eliminating
rehabilitation called for a more efficient court system to provide
faster trials with more uniform and predictable sentences. They
also recommended that rehabilitation programs be offered on a
voluntary basis (Fogel, 1975). Martinson further suggested that a
fixed penalty for each offense was the only equitable solution for
society and the offender noting the indeterminate sentence frustrated
both prison administrators and inmates. This view has come to be
called the "Justice Theory of Corrections" and relies on retribution
and deterrence for its justification (Bartollas, 1985).
The philosophy of rehabilitation was based on the belief that
criminal behavior could be reduced by treating its causes. Menninger
(1969) noted that society and the offender were best served by changing
the individual from a lawbreaker to a lawabiding citizen. Ellis
MacDougall (1976) reported that rehabilitation programs were never
adequately funded or given more than token support. It was, therefore,


12
unfair to conclude they did not work. MacDougall further argued that
retribution had not worked in the past, therefore, there was no
reason to believe it would work now or in the future. The American
Correctional Association also took a strong position in favor of
rehabilitation in corrections (Beto, Park, § Lejins, 1972). While
most state corrections systems today practice a combination of
rehabilitation and retribution, prison overcrowding, staff shortages,
and budget limitation mitigate exclusive use of either theory.
The Relationship Between Mental Retardation and Criminal Behavior
Several early twentieth century investigators proposed a
relationship between subnormal intelligence and criminal behavior.
Goddard (1914) investigated mental ability of prison inmates as part
of his attempt to develop intelligence tests. He found a majority of
prisoners he studied scored at the lower end of the intelligence scale.
Femald (1915) concluded that mentally retarded individuals would
inevitably become criminals if not properly supervised. Their findings
were based on studies of delinquent youth from which they concluded
25% of all criminals were mentally subnormal. In another study,
Goddard (1915) obtained data from 16 institutions for adult offenders.
He concluded the incidence of mental retardation ranged from 28% to
89%. Glueck and Glueck (1943) completed a survey of 500 women paroled
from a women's prison in Massachusetts in 1934, and found the sample
contained 245 mentally retarded individuals.
Zeleny (1933) reported results of a review of mental retardation
studies conducted between 1910 and 1930. He found much lack of


13
agreement among investigators regarding a relationship between mental
retardation and criminal conduct because of variability in standards
used for testing. He attempted to compare the prevalence estimates
of these studies with the population at large and concluded general
agreement with an average 3.2% male and 5.9% female retarded in the
criminal population.
Several investigators encouraged development of a theory that
mental retardation predisposed a person to criminal behavior (Fernald,
1915; Glueck & Glueck, 1943; Goddard, 1914, 1916; Zeleny, 1933). This
notion was based on large numbers of the prison population measured
as intellectually and socially subnormal. The general view was if
retardation precipitated criminal behavior and retardation was
irreversible, the retarded offender was, therefore, a poor risk for
rehabilitation. A negative stereotype about mentally retarded
offenders persisted as a result of these studies despite the lack of
empirical evidence that correlation between intelligence and criminal
behavior implied causation.
Rehabilitation of the Mentally Retarded Offender
Rehabilitation of the mentally retarded offender traditionally
involved three possible approaches: segregation and use of special
facilities, normalization and individualized treatment within prison
populations, no use of differential treatment (Santamour 5 West, 1982).
Segregation of mentally retarded prisoners has often taken the form
of isolation or housing with sexually deviant inmates. These methods
were reported as undesirable and ineffective (Reichard et al., 1982).


14
Segregation of the mentally retarded inmate in special facilities
has often taken the form of isolation or housing with mentally ill
or institutionalized mentally retarded. Segregation in special
facilities presented unique problems to those offenders and
administrators involved in programming and has generally accomplished
little but incorporation of the worst features of prisons and civil
institutions (Lottman, 1976).
The principle of normalization originated with Samuel Gridley
Howe (1874), was later titled as such by Nirje (1969), and then elaborated
upon by Wolfensberger (1972). Normalization referred to benefits
obtained from treating the retarded person like normal persons,
insofar as possible, while recognizing the individual deficits caused
by mental retardation. Therefore, the retarded person who committed
a crime would be treated in the same ways prescribed for the nonretarded
but with consideration given for mental retardation by individualized,
or differential, treatment.
Normalization requires individualized programming when used in
rehabilitation of criminal behavior. It does not mean treating the
mentally retarded prisoner as normal. It requires that retarded
prisoners have individualized opportunities based on consideration of
their handicap. Kapp (1973) questioned whether these opportunities
were available to retarded offenders in prison under most systems.
He stated that availability of individualized treatment based on
deficits caused by mental retardation was as important to success in
rehabilitation as in education. Overby (1982) noted that lack of


15
differential treatment led to poor adjustment and poor progress while
in prison. Santamour and West (1982) found the retarded inmate
benefited most when prison adjustment was accomplished through a
plan of normalization and differential treatment.
Santamour and West (1977) noted that any social welfare system
provides treatment to its dominant group. There is historic resistance
of corrections programs and social-welfare systems to accept
responsibility for mentally retarded criminals (Santamour § West,
1977). Mentally retarded offenders are misfits in both systems,
therefore, the level of differential treatment available to them is
minimal (Rowan, 1976).
Society's reaction to the mentally retarded has progressed from
ignorance to isolation to treatment. Differential treatment of the
mentally retarded has been used in education and vocational programs
successfully (Chinn, Drew, § Logan, 1979). Rehabilitation theory in
corrections recognizes individualized treatment to correct characteristics
that may cause, or influence, criminal behavior. Treatment is
operationalized in prison systems as harsh punishment, psychiatric
care, counseling, and mixtures in between. It remains important to
distinguish between mentally retarded and nonretarded offenders when
designing and implementing individualized treatment (Overby, 1982).
Delimitations
This study was delimited to the Florida Department of Corrections.
The data analyzed were stored in the Florida Department of Corrections
computer management information system for 26,493 inmates incarcerated
from 1976 through 1985.


16
Limitations
Results obtained in this study are limited with regard to
generalizability to state departments of corrections that classify
prison inmates as to intelligence. A centralized computer management
system was used to secure necessary data. Therefore, human error
with regard to entering data could be a limitation.
Definition of Terms
The following definitions of terms important to this investigation
were developed to insure greater consistency in interpreting results.
Adaptive behavior. Adaptive behavior is the effectiveness or
degree with which an individual meets standards of personal independence
and social responsibility expected for age and cultural group (Chinn
et al., 1979, p. 24).
Criminal justice system. The criminal justice system is comprised
of the activities of police, lawyers, courts, and corrections workers
(Schlitt, 1979, p. 238).
Disciplinary report. A disciplinary report is a written citation
against an inmate for a violation of Florida Department of Corrections
rules or Florida criminal statutes (Florida Department of Corrections,
1984, p. 145).
Felony. A felony is a criminal offense punishable by a term
of at least one year in the custody of the Florida State Department
of Corrections (Bartollas, 1985, p. 28).
Mental retardation. Mental retardation refers to significantly
subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with


17
deficits in adaptive behavior, and manifested during the developmental
period (Grossman, 1983, p. 11). Florida Department of Corrections
practice, however, operationalizes mental retardation as intellectual
functioning of at least two standard deviations below the mean of the
Otis-Lennon Mental Ability Test.
Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense punishable by
a term of imprisonment of less than one year in a county jail or
correctional facility (Bartollas, 1985, p. 28).
Parole. Parole is the supervision of offenders who have served
a portion of their sentence in a correctional institution and who are
under the continued custody of the state (Bartollas, 1985, p. 196).
Summary
Fiscal and social accountability are important to those concerned
with administration of corrections as society allocates an increasing
amount of financial resources to offender rehabilitation. Efficacy
of rehabilitation practice, however, has come under scrutiny due to
increased crime rates (Clear, 1984). Several authors have suggested
differential treatment based on deficits of adaptive behavior as
important to success in programming for the mentally retarded in
academics, employment, and career education (Cegelka § Prehm, 1982;
Chinn et al., 1979; Haring, 1979). Differential handling of the
mentally retarded offender has also been cited as effective in
rehabilitation of criminal behavior (Reichard et al., 1982; Santamour
$ West, 1982).


18
Differential treatment of the mentally retarded prisoner, as
in education, should be based on adaptive behavior deficits unique
in severity to the mentally retarded. Most prison systems in the
United States, however, do not provide differential treatment for
mentally retarded inmates. This approach is based on the belief that
integration with nonretarded inmates helps in adjustment to prison
routine and, ultimately, rehabilitation. If this approach is effective
in compensating for behavior deficits of the mentally retarded, no
differences should exist between this group and nonretarded inmates
on measures of behavior.


CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Results of a review of literature concerning the mentally
retarded offender will be presented in this chapter. Procedures
used for obtaining and selecting literature are detailed, the nature
of the literature is provided, analysis and conclusions are presented.
Selection of Relevant Literature
This review contains relevant literature that met preestablished
criteria. This literature was located using the following sources:
the Criminal Justice Abstracts, the Criminal Justice Periodical Index,
the Criminology and Penology Abstracts, the Dissertation Abstracts
International, and the Cumulative Index to Journals in Education.
Descriptors used in the search included mental retardation, mentally
retarded, rehabilitation, developmental disabilities, criminals,
corrections, correctional treatment, handicapped offender, prison,
and mentally retarded offender.
The initial search consisted of locating those studies published
from 1975 through 1985. A period of 10 years was used for two reasons.
First, due to enactment of Public Law 94-142, the Education For All
Handicapped Children Act, and Section 504 of Public Law 93-112, the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, it was theorized that special services for
19


20
certain adult mentally retarded offenders would be improved due to
mandates of this law requiring formalized education and treatment
plans for handicapped individuals. Public Law 94-142 was enacted in
1975. Second, there appeared to be a paucity of research in criminal
justice and corrections after 1980 due to a lack of funding by the
Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (Diegelman, 1982). The
Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) was established by
congress in 1968 to provide money for research and administration in
criminal justice. The LEAA still exists although congress has not
appropriated funds for operation since 1979.
The bibliography of each study was examined for additional
references. From the bibliographies of articles published during
the identified years, a number of related articles dating as early as
1966 were also identified. The bibliographies also provided information
about which journals most frequently published articles related to
the topic. Among the journals identified were the American Journal
of Corrections, the Canadian Journal of Criminology, Corrections
Magazine, Corrections Today, Federal Probation, and the International
Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. The indices
of these journals were examined from 1975 to 1984.
A survey of the card catalog at the University of Florida's main
library revealed several books about corrections, rehabilitation, and
the mentally retarded offender. Among the books reviewed was Popular
Justice (Walker, 1980). This book provided a history of corrections
and its relationship to the criminal justice system. The Retarded


21
Offender (Santamour § Watson, 1982) and Correctional Treatment:
Theory and Practice (Bartollas, 1985) provided a framework for
development of rehabilitation and correctional treatment in the
criminal justice system.
Criteria for initial selection of reports to be included in the
critical review were established. The article had to address some
aspect of corrections or rehabilitation theory and be published
subsequent to 1975. Several studies from 1966 to 1975 were included
in the final analysis of literature. The article had to address the
mentally retarded offender at some point in the criminal justice
system (prevalence, characteristics, crime, arrest, sentencing, or
treatment).
Thirty-two articles met the initial selection criteria. Of that
number, seven were rejected. The remaining 25 studies were evaluated
as positive (+), negative (-), or neutral (0), based on use of data-
based research, use of descriptive statistics provided by state
agencies, reviews of literature, opinion pieces based on reviews of
literature, and opinion pieces without literature reviews.
The Nature of the Literature
The problem addressed in this study, adaptive behavior of the
incarcerated mentally retarded offender, has not appeared in recent
literature. Studies regarding certain characteristics of the mentally
retarded offender were reported prior to 1975. None, however, included
the characteristic of inmate behavior during incarceration. None of
the reports compared behavior characteristics of this population with


22
nonretarded prison inmates. Several reports most closely related
to the topic were chosen with analysis done in subsections concerning
efficacy of rehabilitation in corrections and characteristics of the
mentally retarded offender at various stages of the criminal justice
system. Analysis of literature was done in these subsections for the
following reasons. Concern about the nature and efficacy of
rehabilitation theory is important as a basis for understanding
attempts to differentially treat the mentally retarded offender
(Santamour § West, 1978). It is also important to consider what is
known about characteristics of the mentally retarded offender at
various stages of the criminal justice system. If a case is to be
made for differential treatment in prison based on deficits caused by
mental retardation, an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses in
this literature is required.
An important characteristic of mental retardation concerns deficits
of adaptive behavior (Grossman, 1983). Adaptive behavior or related
concepts have been involved in definition and classification for a major
portion of the history of effort in mental retardation (Chinn et al.,
1979). Only in about the past two decades, however, have
conceptualization and measurement progressed to a point that adaptive
behavior is viewed as a functional parameter of classification of
mental retardation. Primary impetus for this movement came from the
work of Sloan and Birch (1955), which was adapted for the American
Association on Mental Deficiency Manual on Terminology and Classification
(Heber, 1961), and further developed by later revisions of this manual
(Grossman, 1983).


23
Although IQ scores were widely used as the primary determinant
of mental retardation, not all agreed with this practice. The
American Association on Mental Deficiency (AAMD), in its 1961 definition
of mental retardation, noted the importance of social adaptation,
as well as general intelligence (Heber, 1961). The AAMD guidelines
operationalized mental retardation to include significant difficulties
in adapting to the demands of the environment. Subsequent definition
of mental retardation has included this component of adaptive behavior
deficits (Grossman, 1983).
The assumption that unique characteristics of the mentally
retarded offender generalize to behavior while incarcerated requires
closer scrutiny since behavior is often the main indication of
adjustment to prison and rehabilitation (Clear, 1984). Further
information on literature selected for analysis is presented in two
tables, as follows: efficacy of rehabilitation in corrections and
characteristics of the mentally retarded offender.
The Efficacy of Rehabilitation Philosophy in Corrections
Selected research on the efficacy of rehabilitation philosophy in
corrections is reported in Table 1. Presented in the table are author(s)
and dates of publication, subjects, independent and dependent variables,
and conclusions. Six studies are reported, five of which attempted
to measure the efficacy of rehabilitation treatment in prison by
using recidivism rates. One study attempted to judge the effectiveness
of rehabilitation by measuring inmate participation in prison programs.


Table 1
The Efficacy of Rehabilitation Philosophy in Corrections
Author/ Type of Dependent Independent
Year Study Subjects Variable Variable Conclusions
Bailey, 1966
Survey
n=100 treatment
programs
Recidivism
rates
Rehabilitation
programming
Rehabilitation
philosophy not effective
Robison ^
Smith, 1971
Review of
literature
n=75 treatment
programs
Recidivism
rates
Presence of
rehabilitative
treatment
program
No evidence to indicate
reduction in recidivism
based on presnece of
treatment program
Martinson,
1975
Review of
literature
n=200 treatment
studies
Recidivism
rates
Presence of
treatment
program
Rehabilitative treatment
partially effective in
48% of studies;
rehabilitative treatment
not effective in 49% of
studies
Serrill,
1976
Survey
n=1000 prison
inmates
Recidivism
and parole
violations
Presnece of
rehabilitative
treatment in
prison
Presence of treatment
while in prison had no
effect on recidivism or
parole violations
Gendreau §
Ross, 1979
Review of
literature
n=95 interven
tion or
treatment
studies
Recidivism
rates
Treatment or
rehabilitation
programming
Recidivism lowered in
86% of studies
reviewed
ro
4^


Table l--Continued
Author/ Type of Dependent Independent
Year Study Subjects Variable Variable Conclusions
Petersilia, Survey
1980
n=50 state
prison systems
Participation
in prison
rehabilitation
program
Availability of
treatment in
prison
Participation of 40% of
prison inamtes at any
given time in any
program


26
It had been theorized that the goal of rehabilitation philosophy
was to change an offender's character, attitudes, or behavior
patterns to diminish criminal propensities (von Hirsh, 1976).
Advocates of rehabilitation philosophy used several arguments to
defend correctional treatment. These authors attempted to refute the
idea proposed by Martinson (1975) that nothing really worked in
rehabilitation of offenders. The idea that rehabilitation had never
been given adequate funding in the American correctional system was
often raised to defend treatment in corrections. Treatment has also
been justified as a necessary part of any humane correctional system
as well as an idea too compelling to abandon (Bartollas, 1985). Most
criticism of rehabilitation philosophy was based on Robert Martinson's
review of over 200 treatment programs from which he concluded
correctional treatment did not work (1975).
An analysis of Martinson's study and conclusions, however,
indicates the following positive aspects of rehabilitation theory:
1. Martinson cites individual counseling as an effective
therapeutic technique that reduced recidivism in several studies.
Martinson noted there was some hope in treating properly selected
subjects if individual therapy was conducted by trained social workers,
2. Martinson stated in his original conclusions that group
counseling was effective if subjects were amenable to treatment and
when counselors were trained in counseling techniques.
3. Martinson found intensive probation or parole supervision
provided encouraging reports of rehabilitation and further indicated
that specially supervised cases appeared to function well in the
community.


27
At least 39 individual studies (48% of those evaluated by
Martinson) were associated with positive or partly positive
recidivism rates. Of the remaining studies, 4% had ambiguous results
and 49% showed negative or no reduction in recidivism. When viewed
in terms of treatment approaches and settings, a greater number of
favorable results are mentioned by Martinson in relation to use of
probation with intensive supervision rather than prison. The results
were about equal in the case of group counseling within residential
settings and psychotherapy within the community. The setting in
which treatment occurred was related to results; lower security of
imprisonment resulted in lower recidivism upon release. Caseworker
characteristics were also associated with a reduction in recidivism.
Inmate characteristics, however, were not linked to success in program.
The notion that lower security classification related to lower rates
of recidivism was not, however, evidence to suggest efficacy of
rehabilitation treatment. Low security classification possibly
reflected demonstrated adjustment to prison not attributable to any
treatment effect. Prior criminal behavior may have been evidence to
suggest a more lawabiding life-style and, therefore, positively
influenced security classification and criminal recidivism.
The efficacy of correctional treatment was questioned by authors
other than Martinson. As early as 1966, Walter Bailey reported
results of 100 evaluations of treatment programs and concluded there
was little evidence to suggest effectiveness of correctional
treatment. He suggested that one or more of the following reasons


28
explained this ineffectiveness: the treatment in and of itself was
not effective, the treatment was not effective in a prison, and
treatment was based on incorrect assumptions regarding causes of
criminality. Bailey's conclusions appeared highly speculative with
no mention made of specific characteristics of treatment programs or
their populations.
Robison and Smith (1971) reviewed 75 treatment programs and
concluded there was no evidence to indicate a reduction in recidivism
rates. As was the case with Bailey (1966), conclusions were not based
on empirical data but were subjective opinions based on reports from
surveyed programs. In both studies, follow-up data concerning the
nature of recidivism were not gathered. No indication of any pattern
of criminal behavior was used to evaluate program efficacy. For
example, revocation of parole may have been due to failure to secure
employment rather than criminal behavior. However, a six-year study
of treatment in California prisons which included a three-year,
postrelease follow-up of 1,000 inmates concluded that treatment had
a negative impact on participatns because (a) they were more hostile
to staff than those in the control group, (b) committed more serious
prison rule infractions, (c) violated parole more frequently, (d)
stayed out of prison a shorter time before violating parole, and
(e) committed more serious crimes than their commitment offenses
while on parole (Serrill, 1976).
Gendreau and Ross (1979) reviewed literature published between
1973 and 1978 regarding treatment programs and found 86% of the 95


29
intervention studies reported success. In these programs more
stringent research methods were used to evaluate correctional
treatment. Of the studies, 33% were random sample experiments, 23%
employed baseline comparisons, and 23% used matched comparison groups.
Most of the successful programs emphasized modifying inappropriate
behavior. According to Gendreau and Ross, this 86% success rate is
convincing evidence that some rehabilitation programs work when
properly designed and staffed.
Advocates of correctional treatment have asserted that rehabilitation
had not been given adequate support to determine effectiveness.
Halleck and Witte noted, in 1977, that correctional rehabilitation
programs have generally been underfunded, understaffed, and carried out
in settings far from ideal. Programs of limited duration and quality
were expected to produce similar effects on the lives of those under
treatment. Supporters of rehabilitation noted that programs were so
few they could only serve a small minority of inmates. Petersilia
(1980) reported findings of a national survey revealing no more than
40% of inmates in state prisons participated in any treatment program
while incarcerated and only 10% of inmates with identified needs in
prison received treatment related to those needs.
The Mentally Retarded Offender
Results of the review of research about the mentally retarded
offender are presented in Table 2. Nineteen studies met the final
selection criteria and were included in the analysis. Twelve of the
reports were based on data-based research with the majority using


30
ex post facto analysis and descriptions of existing records. Seven
of the works were opinion pieces and were included in the analysis
based on their wide acceptance in the field of corrections and the
mentally retarded offender.
Prevalence of the Mentally Retarded Offender
Estimates of prevalence of mental retardation for adults over
19 in the general population range from .2 to 2.4% (Tarjan, Wright,
Eyman, § Keenan, 1973). There is considerable disagreement about
prevalence of mental retardation in the nation's prison population.
Several investigators since the late 1960s have suggested that
prevalence of retarded offenders in the total offender population
is much higher (Brown § Courtless, 1970; Reichard, Spencer, $ Spooner,
1982). Using national surveys, Haskins and Friel (1973) found a
rate of 4.1% while Brown and Courtless (1971) found the rate to be
9.5%. The higher rate of 9.5% resulted from an average of rates
ranging from 2.6% in western states to 24.3% in the southeastern
states. State surveys have reported prevalence rates that varied
from a low of 7.9% (South Carolina Department of Corrections, 1980)
to a high of 39.6% (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens, 1975).
There are several possible explanations for confusion in this
area. A major dimension of mental retardation is subaverage general
intellectual functioning (Grossman, 1983). A number of psychometric
explanations for variability in prevalence rates have been suggested.
These included group as opposed to individual testing, circumstances
and time under which the tests were given, and the type of professional


Table 2
Characteristics of the Mentally Retarded Offender
Author (s)/
Year
Type of
Study
Subj ects
Dependent
Variable
Independent
Variable
Major Conclusions
Brown 8
Courtless,
1968
Ex post facto
n=430
inmates
Criminal
history
Mental
retardation
Mentally retarded criminals
committed crimes against
people most frequently
Brown $
Courtless,
1970
Ex post facto
description
n=l,209
inmates
Age, race,
employment
status
Mental
retardation
Typical retarded inmate
29-34 years old, black,
unemployed prior to prison
Brown 5
Courtless,
1971
Survey
n=50 state
prison systems
Prevalence
of mental
retardation,
criminality
Mental
retardation
Prevalence of retardation in
inmate population was 9.5%,
retarded most often committed
crimes of theft and burglary
Giagiari,
1971
Opinion
none
none
none
Conditions associated with
mental retardation resulted
in disproportionate numbers
of mentally retarded
criminals being convicted and
imprisoned
Manne §
Rosenthal,
1971
Ex post facto
description
n=792
inmates
IQ, age
Mental
retardation
Mentally retarded inmates
were older than nonretarded
inmates in Kentucky prisons


Table 2--Continued
Author(s)/
Date
Type of
Study
Subj ects
Dependent
Variable
Independent
Variable
Major Conclusions
Haggerty,
Kane, §
Udall, 1972
Opinion
none
none
none
Characteristics of mental
retardation caused higher
conviction rates than for
nonretarded criminals
Haskins §
Friel, 1973
Ex post facto
description
n=981
inmates
in Texas
Age, race,
employment,
income level,
prevalence
Mental
retardation
Typical retarded inmate
27-34 years old, nonwhite,
unemployed prior to prison,
income less than 5,000/year,
prevalence was 4.1%
Menolascino,
1974
Opinion
none
none
none
Characteristics of mental
retardation cause poor
adjustment to prison
Atlanta,
1975
Ex post facto
description
n=14,382
inmates in
Georgia
prison
system
Age, race,
employment
status,
prevalence,
criminality
Mental
retardation
Typical retarded inmate 28-31
years old, nonwhite, unemployed
prior to prison, prevalence for
retardation was 39.6%,
retarded most often had record
of crime against people
Kentucky
Legislative
Research
Commission,
1975
Ex post facto
description
n=l,642
inmates in
Kentucky
prison
system
Age, race,
employment,
number of
escape tries,
criminality,
length of
sentence
Mental
Retardation
Typical retarded inmate 26 to
32 years old, nonwhite,
unemployed prior to prison,
less likely to attempt escape
than nonretarded, were most
often committed for crimes
against people, served more of
sentence than nonretarded
prisoner


Table 2--Continued
Author(s)/ Type of
Date Study
Dependent Independent
Subjects Variable Variable
Major Conclusions
McGovern,
1976
Opinion
none
none
none
Characteristics of mental
retardation cause poor
adjustment to prison
Rowan,
1976
Opinion
none
none
none
Characteristics of mental
retardation cause poor
adjustment to prison
Santamour $
West, 1977
Survey
n=960
mentally
retarded
offenders
Disposition
of criminal
cases in
court
Mental
retardation
59% pleaded guilty, 8% had
no attorney, 84% made no
appeals
MacEachron,
1978
Literature
review
n=17 studies
of mentally
retarded
offenders
Sex, age,
race,
employment
prevalence
Mental
retardation
Typical retarded inmate
was male, 28-31 years old,
unemployed prior to prison,
income less than 4,000/year,
prevalence higher when more
complete testing done
Santamour
§ West,
1978
Opinion
none
none
none
Characteristics of mental
retardation result in poor
adaptation to prison
South
Carolina
Ex post facto
description
n=12,971
inmates
Sex, age,
race,
Mental
retardation
Typical retarded inmate was
male, 27-34 years old, non-white,
Department prevalence prevalence was 7.9% for mental
of Corrections, retardation
1980


Table 2--Continued
Author (s)/
Date
Type of
Study
Subjects
Dependent
Variable
Independent
Variable
Major Conclusions
Overby,
1982
Ex post facto
description
n=469
inmates
Age
Mental
retardation
Mentally retarded inmates were
incarcerated at an earlier
age than onretarded inmates
for similar crimes
Soskin,
1982
Ex post facto
description
n=l,211
inmates
Length of
sentence
Mental
retardation
Mentally retarded inmates
served longer in prison than
nonretarded inmates
Reichard,
Spencer, §
Spooner,
1982
Review of
literature/
opinion
none
none
none
Retarded were incarcerated
for property offenses
4^


35
who administered the test (Haskins $ Friel, 1973; Santamour $
West, 1977). Santamour and West (1977) noted circumstances
surrounding intelligence testing of new prisoners involved
significant emotional stress as testing was often conducted within
two weeks of commitment to prison. They suggested that more
realistic testing situations resulted in a lower prevalence of
mentally retarded prisoners. Haskins and Friel (1973) reported that
intelligence testing was frequently administered by poorly trained
personnel who lacked skills and experience interpreting and scoring
these instruments.
The variability of prevalence rates in these studies may be a
function of the population base used to estimate prevalence and the way
mental retardation is defined and operationalized. It appears that
differences in population bases affect prevalence estimates. Rates
tended to be higher when based on total offender populations than when
based only on new admissions to prison. Investigators of the Atlanta
Association for Retarded Citizens (1975) examined this possibility and
concluded that rates based on new admissions in the Georgia
Department of Corrections were consistently lower by 4 to 7% than were
those based on total population of inmates. Prevalence rates also
tended to be higher when all offenders had taken an intelligence
test (39.6% from the Georgia Department of Offender Rehabilitation)
than when only some proportion of all offenders was tested (7.9%
from the South Carolina Department of Corrections, 1980). MacEachron
(1978) compared prevalence rates from a state that gave intelligence


36
tests to all offenders and those from a state that did not and found
the rate higher in the state administering to all prisoners. In
this study uniform testing of all prisoners appeared to more
completely identify those with mental retardation and, therefore,
increased the observed proportion in the population. This finding
supported the suggestion that a source of variability in prevalence
rates may be the method used to determine which inmates are labeled
retarded.
Since institutional records of offenders are the primary source
of information for survey research, the general lack of data on
adaptive behavior skills prior to incarceration or age when the
developmental disability occurred necessitated reliance on
intelligence tests to assess mental retardation. This limitation
must be given careful consideration in selection of tests and in
interpretation of test scores. Since the means and standard
deviations of most intelligence tests differ, comparison of scores
from different sources requires use of standard z scores, i.e., scores
expressed in standard deviations from the mean. Use of standard z
scores is also in agreement with the American Association on Mental
Deficiency's recommended method of operationalizing intellectual
functioning in terms of units of standard deviation (Grossman, 1983).
The large variability of prevalence rates may be explained,
therefore, either by variety of tests used or by use of unadjusted
test scores rather than z scores. The impact of using different tests
has been reported in two studies. The Atlanta Association for


37
Retarded Citizens reported in 1975 that Georgia's prevalence rate
dropped by eight percentage points the first year after changing
diagnostic intelligence tests. Haskins and Friel (1973) found that
when four intelligence tests were given to the same group of
offenders in the Texas Department of Corrections, prevalence rates
varied from 7 to 23.4%. Since recognized intelligence tests were used
in both studies the results suggested that use of unadjusted scores
rather than z scores to identify mental retardation accounted for
the variability of prevalence rates. MacEachron (1978) investigated
this by comparing prevalence rates based on test scores and on standard
z scores and found rates were substantially lower in both the state
that administered intelligence tests to all inmates and the state
that did not. It was further found that prevalence rates based on z
scores were only slightly higher than the estimated range of retarded
adults in the general population (Tarjan et al., 1973).
Characteristics of the Mentally Retarded Offender
Brown and Courtless (1970) noted three phases in the development
of theories concerning characteristics of the mentally retarded
offender. From 1890 to 1920, theorists felt that mental retardation
predisposed an individual to commit criminal acts and attempted to
link mental retardation and criminality with poverty, insanity, and
moral and physical degeneration (Haskins § Friel, 1973). Close to the
onset of World War I, intelligence testing was begun. This represented
an attempt to discriminate between mental retardation and criminal
behavior. Investigators concluded in the early 1900s that the number
of criminals falling in the retarded range was high (Menolascino, 1974).


38
The second period of time to which Brown and Courtless referred
was 1921 to 1960. Theorists during this period questioned whether,
in fact, mental retardation predisposed an individual to criminal
behavior. The view was adopted that levels of intelligence must be
considered within their environmental context (Lane 5 Witty, 1935).
For the first time an attempt was made to relate social factors to
intelligence levels, a move away from constitutional explanations
offered by investigators such as Lomastro (1976).
Current research findings regarding characteristics of the
mentally retarded offender are mixed although there appears to be
less reluctance to associate retardation with criminality than was
the case in the 1940s and 1950s. Reichard et al. (1982) noted that
a growing awareness of disproportionate numbers of mentally retarded
offenders involved with the criminal justice system may represent an
administrative function of the system rather than evidence for a
causal relationship between mental retardation and criminal behavior.
Social characteristics. Although reported prevalence rates
varied considerably, characteristics of mentally retarded offenders
appeared consistent across several studies. Typical mentally
retarded offenders were reported to be in their late 20s to early
30s, nonwhite, left school between sixth and ninth grade, achieved
a second to third grade equivalency, held low-skill employment, and
lived on welfare or below the poverty level (Atlanta Association for
Retarded Citizens, 1975; Brown 5 Courtless, 1970; Haskins § Friel,
1973; Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, 1975).


39
MacEachron (1978) reviewed studies of mentally retarded offender
characteristics which included parolees, probationers, prisoners,
and those incarcerated awaiting trial. The author concluded the
typical mentally retarded offender was most likely a male in his
late 20s or early 30s, a sixth grade dropout, unemployed with few
marketable vocational skills, and living below poverty level.
Legal characteristics. A disproportionate number of mentally
retarded offenders appeared to be arrested, convicted, and sentenced.
Brown and Courtless surveyed incarcerated mentally retarded offenders
in 1970. They found the mentally retarded defendant was not represented
by legal counsel in 7.7% of cases. Of mentally retarded offenders,
59% entered pleas of guilty to their charges. Of those entering
guilty pleas, the plea was to the original charge in 80% of cases.
Confessions were obtained from mentally retarded offenders in 63% of
cases. No pretrial psychological examination as to competency was
conducted in 78% of cases. No appeals were made in 88% of cases as
opposed to 47% in cases involving offenders with normal intelligence.
Santamour and West reported similar results in a 1977 survey:
1. 59% of mentally retarded defendants pleaded guilty to
original charges,
2. 80% of mentally retarded offenders did not attempt plea
bargaining,
8% of all mentally retarded offenders were not represented
by counsel at any time,
3.


40
4. 66% of mentally retarded offenders confessed to original
crimes,
5. issues of competency were not raised in 92% of
cases, and
6. no appeals were made in 84% of cases.
Similarly, Giagiari (1971) noted that mentally retarded suspects
confessed more easily, reacted more readily to friendly suggestions,
were more easily intimidated, and pleaded guilty more often than
offenders with normal intelligence. Haggerty, Kane, and Udall (1972)
reported characteristics of retardation often did not allow them to
adequately help in their own defense. The mentally retarded offenders
lacked ability to remember details, locate witnesses, and testify
credibly. The conclusions of Haggerty et al. (1972) supported
conclusions of Haskins and Friel (1973) that characteristics and
behavior of the mentally retarded assured a disproportionate number
being arrested, convicted, and incarcerated. Mentally retarded
offenders committed crimes similar to others brought into the criminal
justice system. They were, however, more likely to be arrested and
convicted.
Criminal history. Glueck and Glueck theorized as early as 1943
that types of crimes committed by the mentally retarded were different
from those of nonretarded criminals. Several authors noted that
mentally retarded offenders committed crimes against persons more
frequently than against property (Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless, 1968; Kentucky Legislative Research


41
Commission, 1975). Offenses for narcotics, escape, or parole
violation were infrequent (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens,
1975). No studies investigated severity of offenses committed by
mentally retarded offenders despite the fact that type of offense is
often a critical issue in consideration for parole (Talarico, 1982).
Brown and Courtless (1971) found mentally retarded offenders
committed crimes of burglary and theft most frequently. It was
suggested the mentally retarded offender often had a history of
non-violent offenses resulting in incaraceration deemed necessary
to halt further criminal activity rather than protect society from
violence (Reichard et al., 1982).
Contradictions were also apparent regarding length of sentence.
The Georgia Department of Offender Rehabilitation and the Kentucky
Legislative Research Commission concluded that mentally retarded
offenders received sentences from two to eight years longer than
nonretarded offenders. Haskins and Friel (1973), however, noted no
difference between sentences of retarded and nonretarded inmates in
the Texas Department of Corrections.
The Mentally Retarded Offender in Prison
Problems of overcrowding, increased criminal behavior, violence,
and sexual abuse exist in most prison systems. They are frequently
compounded by the presence of the mentally retarded offender. Brown
and Courtless (1970) reported that departments of corrections often
faced staffing problems and were not able to provide the individual
services and protections required by the mentally retarded offender.
O


42
When special attempts were made to provide adequate staff to address
needs of the mentally retarded offender, manpower was diverted
from the rest of the population.
Other unique problems were posed to prison administrators by
mentally retarded offenders. The South Carolina Department of
Corrections (1980) reported mentally retarded offenders and the
prison system suffered from the presence of this group. In a survey
of correctional officers and inmates, mentally retarded offenders were
reported to be frequently abused, exploited, and manipulated by more
intelligent inmates. Mentally retarded prisoners were perceived to
be highly impressionable and learned criminal behaviors of which they
were previously naive. The correctional system was reported to suffer
from the retarded offender's presence due to their deficiencies in
ability to function independently, comprehend regulations and
procedures, and the continual need to be protected from brighter
inmates. The presence of the mentally retarded prisoner intensified
problems of an already overburdened prison system. The conclusions
drawn by the investigators in this study, however, are problematic.
The perceptions measured did not necessarily reflect adaptive behavior
of mentally retarded prisoners. Attitudes and preferences were not
based on empirical data or limited to those having direct contact
with mentally retarded prisoners.
Several authors suggested that mentally retarded inmates differ
in some characteristics from the normal inmate population. Haskins
and Friel (1973) indicated that because retarded offenders remained


43
longer in institutions, they were older than their nonretarded
peers by two years. Manne and Rosenthal (1971) noted 55.4% of
mentally retarded inmates in the Kentucky Department of Corrections
were 28 years or older, whereas 43.0% of the nonretarded population
fit this category. Furthermore, a significant relationship between
age at first incarceration and IQ was found. Mentally retarded
offenders were incarcerated at an earlier age than nonretarded
counterparts (Overby, 1982). Mentally retarded offenders were found
to be disproportionately members of minority groups. Haskins and
Friel (1973) concluded that two-thirds of mentally retarded prison
inmates were black, while only one-third of the nonretarded group
was black. Brown and Courtless (1971) reported that 58% of prison
inmates with IQs below 55 were nonwhite.
Length of sentence. The mentally retarded offender differed
from nonretarded prisoners in length of incarceration (Reichard et al.,
1982; Soskin, 1982). Of mentally retarded inmates in the Kentucky
Department of Corrections, 42% had served more than three years of
their present sentence as opposed to 23.5% of nonretarded. Several
reasons were proposed for this disparity. They were (a) inability
of the retarded offender to finish programs that were required for
consideration for parole, (b) nature of offenses for which the
retarded offender is incarcerated, and (c) higher incidence of rule
infractions (Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, 1975).
Haskins and Friel (1973) agreed with these conclusions. They stated
the mentally retarded were often unable to present defined employment


44
and residential plans in consideration for parole. Inability to
establish employment has been reported as a major obstacle to the
mentally retarded offender gaining parole (Talarico, 1982).
Behavior while incarcerated. Behavior of inmates is often
cited as indicative of adjustment to incarceration (Bartollas, 1985).
Adjustment to incarceration is an important prerequisite to
consideration for parole (Sacks § Logan, 1984). Disciplinary
infractions while incarcerated are the most frequent reason to deny
parole (Talarico, 1982). Prison behavior and obtaining parole,
therefore, are the main indicators of successful adjustment to prison.
Several authors have proposed that rehabilitation of mentally retarded
offenders may be enhanced by increased use of parole (Friel, 1976;
Smith, Reichard, § Nunnery, in press; Soskin, 1982). MacEachron (1978)
postulated that the inmate's disciplinary record influenced success
or failure to gain parole. McGovern (1976) found the mentally retarded
prisoner often was hampered in adjustment to prison by inability to
tolerate frustration or delay gratification, poor impulse control,
and cyclical motivation. Further complications for prison adjustment
resulted from the retarded offender's propensity to be easily
manipulated by more intelligent inmates (Menolascino, 1974; Rowan,
1976; Santamour § West, 1978).
The mentally retarded offender was found slower to adjust to
prison routine than the nonretarded inmate and often had difficulty
comprehending what was expected of him resulting in more frequent rule
infractions (Santamour $ West, 1978). They were frequently the brunt


45
of practical jokes and often used as scapegoats or sexual objects
by more intelligent peers (Reichard et al., 1982). Haskins and
Friel (1973) postulated these factors accounted for a higher level
of disciplinary reports for mentally retarded inmates. This notion
was not supported, however, by data on inmate behavior in prison.
Summary
The idea that mentally retarded individuals benefit from
educational and vocational programs designed to account for
intellectual and behavioral deficits caused by retardation is well
documented in the literature (Blackhurst § Berdine, 1981; Chinn et al.,
1979; Haring, 1979). The benefit of differential treatment in education
has been based on demonstrated differences in the characteristics of
mentally retarded and nonretarded individuals (Chinn et al., 1979).
Unique characteristics of the mentally retarded offender often led
investigators to assume that differential treatment in prison also
is beneficial (Haskins § Friel, 1973; Santamour f) West, 1978). These
characteristics include the following:
1. The mentally retarded offender is arrested, convicted, and
incarcerated in disproportionate numbers (Brown $ Courtless, 1981;
Reichard et al., 1982).
2. The mentally retarded offender is more often male, underemployed,
and less educated than the nonretarded offender (Brown & Courtless,
1971; Reichard et al., 1982).
3. The mentally retarded offender committed crimes against
people more often than crimes against property (Brown & Courtless, 1968).


46
4. The mentally retarded offender served more time in prison
than did the nonretarded offender (Reichard et al., 1982; Soskin,
1982).
5. The mentally retarded offender was often unable to adapt
to prison routine, rules, and expectations resulting in more
adjustment and discipline problems (Brown § Courtless, 1971;
Haskins § Friel, 1973).
It was frequently proposed that differential treatment of the
mentally retarded offender was needed to facilitate rehabilitation
(Brown & Courtless, 1971; Haskins 5 Friel, 1973; Reichard et al., 1982;
Soskin, 1982). The criminal justice system, however, has been slow
to recognize the need for differential treatment of the mentally
retarded offender (Santamour § West, 1982). The theory that
differential treatment is required to rehabilitate mentally retarded
offenders has been based largely on assumptions that characteristics
of mental retardation, including adaptive behavior deficits, affect
inmate behavior. Studies that reported characteristics of mentally
retarded offenders and included adaptive behavior in prison are not
present in the literature. If resources are to be used to support
differential treatment of the mentally retarded inmate, it is important
to determine if their adaptive behavior differs from the nonretarded
inmate.


CHAPTER III
METHODS
Methods of the study are presented in this chapter. The
chapter is divided into six sections, i.e., subjects, procedures,
independent variable, dependent variables, data analysis, and summary.
This study was an ex post facto description and comparison of the
adaptive behavior of mentally retarded and nonretarded prison inmates
in the Florida Department of Corrections prison system. An ex post
facto design was used because the independent variable of mental
retardation was present prior to this study and, therefore, not
subject to experimental manipulation.
Data on inmate characteristics and behavior were supplied by the
Florida Department of Corrections computerized management information
system. Records were supplied by the Department of Corrections for
inmates incarcerated from 1976 through 1985. Inmates were divided into
three groups for this investigation and selected as mentally retarded
or nonretarded based on results of intelligence testing conducted by
the Department of Corrections.
Subjects
Assignment as mentally retarded or nonretarded was based on IQ
score using the following criteria. The Otis-Lennon Mental Ability
47


48
Test has a mean score of 100, standard deviation of 16, and standard
error of measurement of 4. It is the practice of the Florida
Department of Corrections to operationalize mental retardation
as intellectual functioning of at least two standard deviations
below the mean of the Otis-Lennon Mental Ability Test.
Group 1 (mentally retarded; was drawn from the population of
2,651 cases with IQ scores of 68 or below. Variables of age, sex,
and commitment offense were used to sample what was the "typical"
or most frequently occurring mentally retarded inmate. The mean
age of inmates with IQs below 68 was determined to be 28 years with
a standard deviation of 6.8. Inmates whose age was within plus or
minus one standard deviation of the mean were used. The most
frequently occurring sex in the population of inmates with IQ scores
below 68 was male (91%) and the commitment offense most frequently
found in this population was burglary (41%). A computer generated
cross tabulation of these variables resulted in a sample size for
Group 1 of 439 cases. Group 2 (matched nonretarded) consisted of
439 cases from the population of 23,842 inmates with IQ scores of
84 or above that met the same criteria as Group 1, i.e., age between
21 and 35 years, male, and committed to prison for burglary. Group 3
(unmatched nonretarded) included inmates from the population with
scores above 84. Group 3, however, was not matched with Group 1 as
to commitment offense, sex, or age. Group 3 was comprised of the
"typical" or most frequently occurring inmate in the population of
23,842 with IQ scores above 84 regardless of age, sex, or commitment


49
offense. Group 3 consisted of 439 cases randomly selected from
this population. Descriptive data are reported for all groups
regarding prior criminal history, race, average tested grade level,
tested reading level, employment status, and family history at time
of commitment (see Chapter IV).
Procedures
The efficacy of programming for adaptive behavior deficits of
mentally retarded prison inmates in the Florida Department of
Corrections was investigated in this study. The Florida Department
of Corrections maintains that adaptive behavior deficits of the
retarded prisoner are best addressed by treating them in the same
manner prescribed for normal inmates. If programming based on this
practice works to compensate for adaptive behavior deficits, no
differences would be expected between behavior of mentally retarded
and nonretarded inmates.
Two tasks were proposed to investigate this problem. The purpose
of task 1 was to identify the manner and frequency with which adaptive
behavior was provided for in the Florida Department of Corrections
rehabilitation plans for mentally retarded inmates. The purpose of
task 2 was to see if differences existed in adaptation to prison
regime between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates as measured
by disciplinary reports in prison.
Task 1. Adaptive behavior has been defined as the effectiveness
or degree with which an individual meets standards of personal
independence and social responsibility expected for age and cultural


50
group (Chinn et al., 1979). The definition of mental retardation
includes deficits in adaptive behavior. Adaptive behavior deficits
are often quantified by use of rating scales for adaptive behavior.
The Vineland Social Maturity Scale (VSMS) (Coll, 1953) is
perhaps the most widely known and widely used device for assessment
of social competence and adaptive behavior. The VSMS assesses 117
behaviors clustered into eight aspects of social competence.
The American Association on Mental Deficiency (AAMD) developed
an instrument specifically for the evaluation of adaptive and
maladaptive behavior, the AAMD Adaptive Behavior Scale (ABS). The
ABS is described as also being appropriate for individuals who are
mentally retarded or emotionally disturbed. This instrument assesses
the individual's effectiveness in adapting to natural and social
demands of the environment. Several factors are evaluated, such as
self-abusive behavior, destructive behavior, sexually aberrant behavior,
and independent functioning.
A list of areas of adaptive behavior common to The Vineland
Social Maturity Scale and the AAMD Adaptive Behavior Scale was
formulated by examining each instrument and subjectively grouping
common areas. These areas of adaptive behavior were limited to those
relevant to, or observable in, prison systems.
The Florida Department of Corrections formulates an individual
rehabilitation plan for each inmate committed to prison. This plan
addresses areas specific to the needs of each inmate. Educational
programs, vocational training, counseling referrals, recreation plans,


51
and behavior, among others, are addressed for each inmate as deemed
appropriate by classification specialists within the prison.
Task 1 addressed the frequency and manner with which adaptive
behavior of mentally retarded inmates was accounted for by the
Florida Department of Corrections. The sample size of Group 1
(mentally retarded) was 439. A random sample of 44, or 10%, from
Group 1 was selected. The rehabilitation plans for this sample were
reviewed and analyzed to determine which, if any, provisions for
adaptive behavior were made to account for adaptive behavior areas
common to the AAMD and Vineland scales. In cases where adaptive
behavior was addressed in the rehabilitation plan, specific programs
used to compensate for adaptive behavior deficits were noted.
Task 2. The Florida Department of Corrections monitors inmate
adjustment to prison through a record of disciplinary infractions
compiled during incarceration. Disciplinary infractions provide a
measure of behavior in areas such as aggression, compliance with
authority, narcotics and alcohol abuse, and adherence to prison rules.
Mentally retarded inmates are not treated in special programs.
They are expected to comply with the same rules and regulations as
all other inmates in the department. The Florida Department of
Corrections believes this philosophy has a normalizing effect for
mentally retarded prisoners and considers it to be an advantage in
their treatment. If this philosophy works in the desired manner,
there should be no differences in group behavior between mentally
retarded and nonretarded inmates. The design schema is presented in
Table 3.
a


52
Table 3
Design Schema
Group Independent Variable
Dependent Variable
Group 1 (X) mentally retarded Yi(number DRs: disobeying orders)
Y2(number DRs: attempted escape)
Y3(number DRs: assaulting
correctional officer)
Y4(number DRs: assaulting an
inmate)
Y5(number DRs: possession of
narcotics)
Y6(number DRs: possession of
alcohol)
Y7(number DRs: failure to
maintain personal hygiene)
Group 2 (X^) matched nonretarded Y^(number DRs: disobeying orders)
Y2(number DRs: attempted escape)
Y3(number DRs: assaulting a
correctional officer)
Y4(number DRs: assaulting an
inmate)
Y5(number DRs: possession of
narcotics)
Yg(number DRs: possession of
alcohol)
Y-j (number DRs: failure to
maintain personal hygiene)
Group 3 (X2) unmatched nonretarded Yi(number DRs: disobeying orders)
Y2(number DRs: attempted escape)
Y3(number DRs: assaulting a
correctional officer)
Y4(number DRs: assaulting an
inmate)
Yg(number DRs: possession of
narcotics)
Yg(number DRs: possession of
alcohol)
Y7(number DRs: failure to
maintain personal hygiene)


53
The following null hypotheses were derived as a measure of
inmate behavior:
Ho 1: There is no significant difference in the number of
disciplinary reports received for disobeying orders
between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates.
Ho 2: There is no significant difference in the number of
disciplinary reports received for attempted escape
between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates,
Ho 3: There is no significant difference in the number of
disciplinary reports for assaulting a correctional
officer between mentally retarded and nonretarded
inmates.
Ho 4: There is no significant difference in the number of
disciplinary reports received for assaulting an inmate
between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates.
Ho 5: There is no significant difference in the number of
disciplinary reports received for possession of
narcotics between mentally retarded and nonretarded
inmates.
Ho 6: There is no significant difference in number of
disciplinary reports for possession of alcohol between
mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates.
Ho 7: There is no significant difference in number of
disciplinary reports for failure to maintain personal
hygiene between mentally retarded and nonretarded
inmates.


54
Independent Variable
The independent variable in this study was mental retardation.
The Florida Department of Corrections administers a battery of
standardized tests to each inmate shortly after incarceration at
the Lake Butler Reception and Diagnostic Center. The inmate
records contained within the computerized management information
system of the Florida Department of Corrections include 26,493 cases
who have been given intelligence testing using the Otis-Lennon
Mental Ability Test.
The various levels comprising the Otis-Lennon Mental Ability Test
were designed to provide comprehensive assessment of the general
mental ability of the tested subjects. The Otis-Lennon IQ score is a
normalized standard score with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation
of 16 points. The IQ score is an index of the subjects relative
mental ability when compared with others having taken the same test.
Dependent Variables
Inmates may be cited for violations of Department of Corrections
rules or violations of Florida statutes. The Department of Corrections
keeps computerized records as to the number of disciplinary infractions
compiled for each inmate. This number is reported for each inmate
in this study in seven areas.
Disobeying orders. Disciplinary reports for disobeying orders
result from disobeying any verbal or written order given by a staff
member or from disobeying institutional regulations.
Attempted escape. Disciplinary reports for attempted escape are
issued if an inmate is out of an assigned area or off prison grounds
without permission.


55
Assaulting a correctional officer. Disciplinary reports for
assaulting a correctional officer are issued if an inmate strikes
or threatens physical harm to a correctional officer.
Assaulting an inmate. Disciplinary reports for assaulting an
inmate are issued if an inmate strikes or threatens physical harm
to another inmate.
Possession of narcotics. Disciplinary reports for possession
of narcotics are issued if an inmate is found to be in possession of
any controlled substance other than prescription drugs.
Possession of alcohol. Disciplinary reports for possession of
alcohol are issued if an inmate is found to be in possession of any
alcoholic beverage.
Failure to maintain personal hygiene. Disciplinary reports for
failure to maintain personal hygiene are issued if an inmate fails
to maintain acceptable hygiene or appearance of housing area.
Data Analysis
Computerized data supplied by the Office of Planning, Research,
and Statistics of the Florida Department of Corrections were used in
this investigation. Meetins were held with representatives of the
Department of Corrections and permission to secure and analyze these
data for purposes of the study was granted. The Department of
Corrections supplied data, on computer tape, for 26,493 prisoners.
The data were transferred and analyzed using the Statistical Package
for the Social Sciences (SPSS).


56
Group means for number of disciplinary reports received by
mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates were calculated and compared
to test each hypothesis. One-way analysis of variance was used to
determine significance among groups. Tukey's test was used to
determine pairwise significance between groups. The .05 level of
probability was used in all hypothesis testing.
Summary
Adaptive behavior of mentally retarded prison inmates was
investigated in this study. Characteristics of adaptive behavior
that relate to prison populations were compared with rehabilitation
plans of selected mentally retarded inmates in the Florida Department
of Corrections. Disciplinary records of mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates were compared to determine if differences exist
in adjustment to prison.


CHAPTER IV
RESULTS
Results of the study are presented in Chapter IV. Adaptive
behavior of mentally retarded prison inmates incarcerated in the
Florida Department of Corrections was investigated in this study.
Two tasks were completed to investigate this problem. The purpose
of task 1 was to identify the manner and frequency that adaptive
behavior was provided for in the Florida Department of Corrections
rehabilitation plans for mentally retarded inmates. The purpose of
task 2 was to see if differences existed in adaptation to prison
regime between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates as measured
by disciplinary reports in prison. The chapter includes descriptive
statistics on the samples used for each group, results of task 1
regarding the frequency and manner that the Florida Department of
Corrections addresses adaptive behavior of mentally retarded inmates,
and results of task 2 regarding the number of disciplinary reports
for each group.
Descriptive Statistics
Group 1 (mentally retarded inmates) was drawn from the population
of 2,651 cases with IQ scores of 68 or below. In an attempt to sample
what was the "typical" or most frequently occurring mentally retarded
57


58
inmate in this population, the variables of age, sex, and commitment
offense were used. The mean age of inmates with IQs below 68 was
determined to be 28 years with a standard deviation of 6.8. Inmates
whose age was within plus or minus one standard deviation of the
mean were used. The most frequently occurring sex in the population
of inmates with IQ scores below 68 was male (91%) and the commitment
offense most frequently found in this population was burglary (41%).
A computer generated cross tabulation of these variables resulted
in a sample size for Group 1 of 439 cases.
Group 2 (matched nonretarded) consisted of 439 cases from the
population of 23,842 inmates with IQ scores of 84 or above that met
the same criteria as Group 1, i.e., age between 21 and 35 years,
male, and committed to prison for burglary. Group 3 (unmatched
nonretarded) included inmates from the population with scores above
84. Group 3, however, was not matched with Group 1 as to commitment
offense, sex, or age. Group 3 was comprised of the "typical" or most
frequently occurring inmate in the population of 23,842 with IQ scores
above 84 regardless of age, sex, or commitment offense. Group 3
consisted of 439 cases randomly selected from this population.
Demographic Characteristics
Characteristics of race, prior narcotics use, prior alcohol use,
employment status at arrest, and marital status at arrest were examined
for each group. An independent samples chi-square test was used to
determine possible effects of each variable and group assignment.
Frequencies for demographic characteristics and results of chi-square
tests are presented in Table 4.


59
Table 4
Demographic Characteristics of Sample Groups
Group Ia Group 2a Group 3a
Variable Frequency Frequency Frequency df
Race
White
217
49%
222
50%
214
49%
8.008
6
Black
201
46%
187
42%
209
48%
Other
8
1%
12
2%
10
2%
Hispanic
13
3%
18
4%
6
1%
Prior narcotics use
Light use
189
43%
177
40%
171
39%
3.852
4
Heavy use
79
18%
68
15%
72
16%
No use
171
39%
194
44%
196
45%
Prior alcohol use
Light use
302
69%
318
72%
309
70%
4.219
4
Heavy use
84
19%
62
14%
71
16%
No use
53
12%
59
13%
59
13%
Employment status
at arrest
Full-time
172
39%
238
54%
230
52%
61.271*
4
Part-time
101
23%
128
29%
121
28%
Unemployed
165
39%
73
17%
88
20%
Marital status
at arrest
Married
188
43%
203
46%
215
49%
3.352
2
Single
251
57%
236
54%
224
51%
an=439 for each group.
*significant at the .05 level.


60
Race. Racial makeup for each group included white, black,
Hispanic, and other. The Florida Department of Corrections
categorizes Oriental and American Indian inmates as "other.
Examination of the raw data suggested that each sample group was
comprised of approximately equal numbers from each racial category.
Each group contained approximately equal proportions of white, black,
and Hispanic inmates. The obtained X=8.832, df=6, was not significant
at the .05 level.
Prior narcotics use. The Florida Department of Corrections
records data on prior narcotics use for each inmate. The accuracy
of these data is suspect in that this figure is self-reported by the
inmate during routine classification and testing. Narcotics use is
categorized as light, heavy, or none. No attempt is made to record
types of narcotics used prior to incarceration. There are no
guidelines as to what constitutes light or heavy narcotics use other
than subjective judgment of the examiner.
Proportions between groups appeared to suggest that self-admitted
narcotic use was approximately the same for each sample group. The
obtained X =3.852, df=4, was not significant at the .05 level for
prior narcotics use.
Prior alcohol use. Use of alcohol prior to incarceration is also
a self-admitted statistic. Prior alcohol use is categorized as light,
heavy, or none, by inmate admission. Type of alcohol used is not
recorded. Examination of the raw data suggested approximately the
same levels of alcohol use for each group. The obtained X^=4.219,
df=4, was not significant at the .05 level.


61
Employment status at arrest. Data regarding employment status
at time of arrest are recorded for each inmate at the time of
incarceration. Employment status at the time of arrest is noted
since those inmates who are employed often lose their jobs as a
result of time spent incarcerated waiting disposition of charges.
Categories used by the Department of Corrections include full-time,
part-time, and unemployed.
Examination of the raw data indicated that a much greater number
of mentally retarded inmates (38%) were unemployed at the time of
arrest than nonretarded inmates. The obtained X^=61.271, df=4, was
significant at the .05 level.
Marital status at arrest. Inmate marital status is recorded
during the evaluation procedure conducted by the Department of
Corrections shortly after incaraceration. Marital status is recorded
as married or single. Frequencies for each category in each group
appear similar. The obtained X=3.356, df=2, was not significant at
the .05 level.
Educational Characteristics of Sample Groups
The Florida Department of Corrections maintains educational data
on all inmates regarding age in years, IQ test score, educational
attainment prior to incarceration, tested grade level, and literacy
reading level. One-way analysis of variance was used to test for
significant differences between group means and Tukey's tests were
used to determine pairwise differences where appropriate. Group means
and standard deviations are presented in Table 5.


62
Table 5
Educational Characteristics of Sample Groups
Variable
Group
Mean
Ia
SD
Group
Mean
2a
SD
Group
Mean
3a
SD
Age (years)
28.2
6.2
28.2
6.2
26.4
5.1
IQ score
61.3
5.2
91.3
9.3
92.7
9.8
Educational
attainment (years)
6.0
0.7
9.3
3. 1
9.1
3.3
Average tested
grade level (years)
6.1
3.7
8.4
3.5
9.1
3.2
Literacy reading
level (years)
3.1
1.9
6.2
2.1
6.4
2.3
an=439 for each group.
Age. Age is reported for each sample group. There was no
difference between mean age of Group 1 and Group 2 since they were
matched for sampling. Mean age between Group 2 and Group 3 differed
by 1.8 years. There was no significant difference between mean age
for Group 2 and Group 3.
IQ test score. The mean IQ test score between groups differed
significantly. This was expected since IQ test score reflected mental
retardation and was, therefore, used to select for each group.
Differences were significant at the .05 level between Group 1 and
Group 2 as well as between Group 1 and Group 3.


63
Educational attainment. Educational attainment reflects the
highest grade completed by each inmate prior to incarceration. The
mean attainment for Group 1 (6-0) was significantly different from
the mean level of Group 2 (9.3) and Group 3 (9.1). However, no
difference was noted between Group 2 and Group 3 at the .05 level
of significance.
Average tested grade level. The average tested grade level
reflects results of testing conducted by the Florida Department of
Corrections upon incarceration. Significant differences were reported
between groups at the .05 level. Group 1 (4.1) was found to be
significantly different from both Group 2 (8.4) and Group 3 (9.1) at
the .05 level. There was no significant difference between Group 2
and Group 3 for average tested grade level.
Literacy reading level. The literacy reading level represents
results, in years, of testing to determine reading level at time of
incarceration. The mean reading level for Group 1 (3.1) was found to
be significantly different from that of Group 2 (6.2) and Groun 3
(6.4). Levels for Group 2 and Group 3 were not significantly different
at the .05 level, however.
Criminal History for Sample Groups
Criminal history is recorded by the Department of Corrections
for each inmate as to felony convictions, felony probation sentences,
prior felony paroles, prison commitments, misdemeanor convictions, and
misdemeanor probations. Means and standard deviations are presented
in Table 6.


64
Table 6
Criminal History of Sample Groups
Group Ia Group 2a Group 3a
Variable
Mean
SD
Mean
SD
Mean
SD
Felony
convictions
1.10
1.200
1.27
1.300
1.20
1.010
Felony
probations
0.80
.876
0.60
0.720
0.68
0.800
Felony
paroles
0.46
0.520
0.50
0.610
0.48
0.511
Prior prison
commitments
0.91
0.961
0.84
0.911
0.84
0.820
Misdemeanor
convictions
4.26
2.320
4.19
2.670
4.20
2.810
Misdemeanor
probations
1.20
1.060
2.17
2.230
2.30
2.810
an=439 for each group.
Felony convictions. The mean number of prior felony convictions
for all groups was low. Group 1 had the lowest mean (1.1).
Differences between groups were not significant at the .05 level.
Felony probations. The mean rate of prior felony sentences to
probation was low for all groups ranging from .68 (Group 3) to .80
(Group 1). Probation sentences for felony offenses is recorded only
for cases in the State of Florida. Differences between groups were
not significant at the .05 level.
O


65
Felony paroles. Parole is the conditional release from prison
after completion of a portion of the original sentence. The low
mean rates of prior parole tend to result from the low mean rate
for prior felony convictions. Both groups of nonretarded inmates
had slightly higher rates for prior paroles. Differences between
groups, however, were not significant.
Prior prison commitments. The Department of Corrections records
prior prison commitments for sentences served in Florida prisons only.
The mean rate for both groups of nonretarded inmates was the same
(0.8) but did not differ significantly from the rate for the mentally
retarded group (1.01).
Misdemeanor convictions. Misdemeanor offenses may range from
minor traffic violations to more serious crimes of theft and assault.
The Florida Department of Corrections does not differentiate between
severity of misdemeanors. The number of prior misdemeanor offenses
for Group 1 was slightly higher (4.2) than Group 2 (4.1) or Group 3
(4.2). No significant differences were found between groups.
Misdemeanor probations. The mean number of prior misdemeanor
probation sentences was somewhat higher for the mentally retarded
inmates. Significant differences were found between groups at the .05
level. Group 1 was found to differ from Group 2 and Group 3 when
pairwise comparisons were tested. There were no differences between
Group 2 and Group 3.
Analysis of Adaptive Behavior
Adaptive behavior deficits of mentally retarded prison inmates
in the Florida Department of Corrections was investigated in this


66
study. The Florida Department of Corrections maintains that adaptive
behavior deficits of the retarded prisoner are best addressed by
treating them in the same manner prescribed for normal inmates.
If programming based on this practice works to compensate for
adaptive behavior deficits, no differences would be expected between
behavior of mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates.
Two tasks were proposed to investigate this problem. The purpose
of task 1 was to identify the manner and frequency that adaptive
behavior was provided for in the Florida Department of Corrections
rehabilitation plans for mentally retarded inmates. The purpose of
task 2 was to see if differences existed in adaptation to prison
regime between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates as measured
by disciplinary reports in prison.
Results of Task 1
Task 1 addressed the frequency and manner with which adaptive
behavior of mentally retarded inmates was accounted for by the Florida
Department of Corrections. Common areas observable and feasible in a
prison setting were matched from major cluster behaviors of the
Vineland Social Maturity Scale and the American Association on Mental
Deficiency Adaptive Behavior Scale to form a checklist for use in this
task. The cluster areas were subjectively drawn from each instrument
and grouped into physical appearance and hygiene, communication and
socialization skills, vocational skills, independent functioning, and
aggression. Cluster areas from each test used to form the checklist
used in task 1 are presented in Table 7.


67
Table 7
Adaptive Behavior Cluster Skills
Common behavior area
for use in task 1 review
Vineland behavior
cluster
.AAMD behavior
domain
Physical appearance and
hygiene
Self-help dressing
Responsibility
Independent functioning
Communication and
socialization skills
Communication
Socialization
Self-direction
Language development
Vocational skills
Occupation
Vocational activity
Independent functioning
Self-help eating
Self-direction
Self-help dressing
Independent functioning
Responsibility
Aggression
Violent and destructive
behavior
The sample size of Group 1 (mentally retarded inmates) was 439.
A random sample of 44, or 10%, from Group 1 was selected. The
rehabilitation plans of this sample were reviewed and analyzed to
determine which, if any, provisions for adaptive behavior were made
to account for adaptive behavior areas common to the AAMD and Vineland
scales. Specific programs used to compensate for adaptive behavior
deficits were noted in cases where adaptive behavior was addressed in
the rehabilitation plan. The results of task 1 are presented in
Table 8.


68
Table 8
Results of Task 1
Area of adaptive
behavior deficit
Frequency noted in
rehabilitation plans
Number
referred
Program referral
and adaptation
Physical appearance
and hygiene
31 (72%)
31
Counseling
Communication and
socialization skills
11 (25%)
8
Counseling
Vocational skills
18 (42%)
0
No referral-skill
level noted only
Independent
functioning
9 (21%)
9
Counseling
Aggression
7 (16%)
3
Counseling
Physical appearance and hygiene. Skill
deficits
involving physical
appearance and personal hygiene were noted in 31 cases (72%). Referral
for counseling within the prison was the only adaptation used in these
plans.
Communication and socialization skills. Deficits in communication
and socialization skills were noted in 11 (25%) of cases. Lack of
communication or socialization skills were generally seen to mean
that the inmate had difficulty expressing himself or complying with
appropriate instructions from prison staff. Eight cases were
referred for counseling based on a perceived lack of communication
and socialization skills.


69
Vocational skills. Deficits in vocational skills were noted
relative to job complexity, ability to perform various types of
work, or the type of vocational preference noted. Vocational
deficits were accounted for in 18 of cases (42%).
Independent functioning. Independent functioning was accounted
for by the inmates ability to initiate activities rather than displaying
an overdependence on others for direction. An inability to function
independently was noted in 9 cases (21%). No special consideration
was made to account for lack of ability to function independently.
Aggression. Aggressive behavior was mentioned in 7 rehabilitation
plans (16%). Referral was made to prison counseling in 3 of the cases
noting aggressive behavior.
Results of Task 2
The purpose of task 2 was to see if differences existed in
adaptation to prison regime between mentally retarded and nonretarded
inmates as measured by disciplinary reports in prison. Inferential
statistics were used to analyze the data for disciplinary reports
in seven categories, the dependent variables. One-way analysis of
variance was used to test the significance of each null hypothesis.
Tukey's test was used to determine significance between pairs for
each group. Results of task 2 are presented in Table 9.
Disobeying orders. The mean number of disciplinary reports
received per year for Group 1 inmates was 8.40. Group 2 inmates
received an average of 7.90 and Group 3 received 7.86. The F-ratio
was 2.62. There were no significant differences between groups for
this category. Null hypothesis 1 was accepted.


Table 9
Mean Number of Disciplinary Reports
Disciplinary Category
Group
Mean
Ia
SD
Group
Mean
2a
SD
Group
Mean
3a
SD
Summary
Anova
Statistics
Disobeying orders
8.400
4.028
7.910
3.830
7.860
3.720
F(2,1314)=2.620
Attempted escape
0.270
0.560
0.333
0.720
0.328
0.740
F(2,1314)=1.714
Assaulting a correctional
officer
0.426
0.810
0.508
0.886
0.558
0.904
F(2,1314)=2.578
Assaulting an inmate
1.190
1.037
1.353
1.145
1.342
1.102
F(2,1314)=2.507
Possession of narcotics
0.426
0.818
1.238b
1.037
1.2 61b
1.105
F(2,1314)=96.362
Possession of alcohol
0.381
0.830
1.048b
1.072
1.039b
1.074
F(2,1314)=61.902
Failure to maintain
personal hygiene
2.190
2.361
0.905b
0.958
0.884b
0.951
F (2,1314)=99.62*
an=439 in each group
bmeans that share a common superscript are not significantly different.
*significant at .05 level.
o


71
Attempted escape. Group 1 inmates attempted escape at a lower
rate (0.273) than Group 2 (0.333) or Group 3 (0.328). Attempted
escape is a low incidence infraction which accounts for a small
percentage of all disciplinary problems in prison. The between group
differences for this category of disciplinary report were not
significant at the .05 level. Null hypothesis 2 was accepted.
Assaulting a correctional officer. The average rate for Group 1
inmates (0.4) was less than Group 2 (0.508) or Group 3 (0.558) in this
category. Differences between group means for assaulting a
correctional officer, however, were not significant at the .05 level.
Null hypothesis 3 was accepted.
Assaulting an inmate. The mean number of disciplinary reports
received by Group 1 (1.190) was slightly less than the number
received by group 2 (1.353) or Group 3 (1.342) for assaulting an
inmate. The differences were not significant between groups for
this offense. Null hypothesis 4 was accepted.
Possession of narcotics. Group 1 inmates (0.476) received
disciplinary reports at a much lower rate for possession of narcotics
than Group 2 (1.238) or Group 3 (1.231) inmates. The calculated
F-value was significant at the .05 level. Pairwise comparisons
indicated that the difference between Group 1 and Group 2 was
significant as well as the difference between Group 1 and Group 3.
Null hypothesis 5, therefore, was rejected.
Possession of alcohol. Inmates in Group 1 (0.381) also received
disciplinary reports for possession of alcohol at a much lower rate
than inmates in Group 2 (1.048) and Group 3 (1.039). Differences


72
between groups were significant at the .05 level. Null hypothesis 6,
therefore, was rejected. Significant differences were found between
Group 1 and Group 2 as well as Group 1 and Group 3.
Failure to maintain personal hygiene. Mentally retarded inmates
were cited for failure to maintain personal hygiene at a much higher
rate than nonretarded inmates in Group 2 or Group 3. The null hypothesis
was rejected at the .05 level. Group 1 was significantly different
from Group 2 (0.905) and Group 3 (0.884) in pairwise comparisons for
this variable.
Summary
Adaptive behavior of mentally retarded prison inmates was analyzed
in two tasks. Task 1 investigated the manner and frequency that the
Florida Department of Corrections recognized and programmed for adaptive
behavior deficits of mentally retarded inmates. A review of records was
made to determine accommodations and specialized programs to account
for deficits. The method used to program for adaptive behavior
deficits was referral to counseling within the prison. Vocational
deficits were not addressed with remediative programs. Deficits in
vocational areas were handled by assignment to lower skilled jobs within
the prison.
Differences in adaptive behavior between mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates were measured by disciplinary reports received in
seven categories. Mentally retarded inmates received significantly more
disciplinary reports for failure to maintain personal hygiene than did
nonretarded inmates. The inmates in the mentally retarded group received
significantly fewer numbers of disciplinary reports for possession of
narcotics and possession of alcohol than nonretarded inmates.


CHAPTER V
DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS
The fifth chapter begins with a summary review of the study.
Discussion and implications are presented along with the significance
of the study and suggestions for further research.
Review of the Study
The Problem
Florida's prison system does not provide specialized treatment
for mentally retarded inmates. It is the practice of the Florida
Department of Corrections that deficits in adaptive behavior caused
by mental retardation are best addressed by treating mentally
retarded inmates in the same manner as inmates with normal
intelligence. The Florida Department of Corrections monitors inmate
behavior through a record of disciplinary infractions compiled
during incarceration. Disciplinary infractions provide a measure of
adaptive behavior in areas such as aggression, compliance with
authority, narcotics and alcohol abuse, and adherence to prison
rules.
If this approach is effective in compensating for adaptive
behavior deficits of mentally retarded prisoners, there should be
no group differences in the behavior of retarded and nonretarded
73


74
inmates. Therefore, the problem under investigation in this study
was, "does the Florida Department of Corrections prison program
compensate for postulated adaptive behavior differences between
mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates?"
Summary of Method
Two tasks were proposed to investigate this problem. The purpose
of task 1 was to identify the manner and frequency that adaptive
behavior was provided for in rehabilitation plans of mentally
retarded inmates. The purpose of task 2 was to see if differences
existed in adaptation to prison regime between mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates.
A random sample from Group 1 (mentally retarded inmates) was
selected to complete task 1. The rehabilitation plans of this sample
were reviewed and analyzed to determine which, if any, provisions
for adaptive behavior were made to account for adaptive behavior
areas common to the AAMD and Vineland scales. In cases where
adaptive behavior was addressed in the rehabilitation plan, specific
programs used to compensate for adaptive behavior deficits were noted.
Group means for the number of disciplinary reports received by
mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates in seven categories were
calculated and compared to complete task 2. One-way analysis of
variance was used to determine significance among groups. Tukey's
test was used to determine pairwise significance between groups.
Problems and Limitations
There were several problems and limitations that were encountered
in this study which should be considered when interpreting these


75
data. First, the record of disciplinary infractions compiled for
each inmate is a subjective measure peculiar to the judgment of
individual correctional officers. The lower number received by
mentally retarded inmates for disobeying orders may represent a
subjective adjustment by correctional officers for the low ability
of mentally retarded inmates to comply with prison rules. In fact,
the lower rate may represent lowered expectations on the part of
officers assigned to enforce prison rules.
Another problem relates to the measure of inmate behavior.
The issuance of disciplinary infractions does nothing to measure the
behavior of nonretarded inmates toward the mentally retarded inmate.
Several authors have suggested that problems of overcrowding, criminal
behavior, and sexual abuse are compounded by the presence of the
mentally retarded inmate. Brown and Courtless (1971) reported that
departments of corrections often faced severe staffing problems and
were not able to provide the individual protection required by the
mentally retarded inmate. MacEachron (1978) noted that mentally
retarded inmates were often out of step with the dominant characteristics
of the average prisoner. The mentally retarded prisoner, therefore,
was victimized by more sophisticated inmates and was often the
object of physical and sexual aggression. These situations were not
measured in this study.
Discussion and Implications
It is widely noted that differential treatment based on adaptive
behavior deficits is important to success for the mentally retarded


76
in academics, employment, and career education (Cegelka § Prehm,
1982; Chinn et al., 1979; Haring, 1979). The notion that
differential treatment of mentally retarded prison inmates effects
their adjustment to prison and subsequent rehabilitation is also
widely noted (Reichard et al., 1982; Santamour § West, 1982). It
is not, however, well documented.
Descriptive Statistics of Sample Groups
The belief that mentally retarded offenders require differential
treatment has been based largely on assumptions about adaptive
behavior. These assumptions have often resulted from theories that
demographic, education, and criminal characteristics of mentally
retarded and nonretarded prisoners were different. The results of
this study are mixed regarding differences between mentally retarded
and nonretarded inmates.
Demographic characteristics. Similar conclusions about
characteristics of mentally retarded offenders have been reported
in several studies. However, demographic data for mentally retarded
and nonretarded prisoners were not compared in previous studies
(Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins § Friel, 1973; Manne 5 Rosenthal, 1971; South Carolina
Department of Corrections, 1980). Typical mentally retarded offenders
were reported to be in their late 20s to early 30s, nonwhite, male,
left school between sixth and ninth grade, achieved a second to third
grade equivalency, held low-skilled employment, and lived below the
poverty level.


77
Demographic characteristics identified in the current research
are similar to those reported in previous studies. The typical
mentally retarded prisoner incarcerated in the Florida Department
of Corrections was 28 years old and not married at the time of
arrest. Racial composition was mixed. The large number of nonwhite
inmates reported in several previous studies was not evident.
Proportions of white and nonwhite inmates in this study were
approximately the same. Characteristics of age, race, and marital
status for nonretarded inmates in this study were similar to the
mentally retarded sample and did not differ significantly for any
group. A comparison of demographic characteristics reported in the
literature and results of this study are presented in Table 10.
Characteristics regarding employment for mentally retarded
inmates appear similar to those reported in other studies. Employment
status was recorded by the Florida Department of Corrections as
full-time, part-time, or unemployed. Data for employment suggested
that the mentally retarded group was unemployed at a higher rate than
either nonretarded group. The mentally retarded inmates were also
employed full or part-time at a lower rate than the nonretarded groups.
These differences were significant at the .05 level.
The incidence of prison inmates with no vocational skills has
been estimated to be five times the national average with 90% earning
less than $5,000 per year (United States Department of Justice, 1980).
Vocational programming and training are an integral part of most
prison systems. Vocational training is used as part of inmate


78
Table 10
Demographic Characteristics Reported for the Mentally
Retarded Offender
Conclusion Reported in the Literature Conclusion in This Study
Age of typical mentally retarded
inmate is 26 to 34 years.
(Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins & Friel, 1973;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1975; MacEachron,
1978; South Carolina Department
of Corrections, 1980)
Typical inmate is nonwhite.
(Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins § Friel, 1973;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1975; MacEachron,
1978; South Carolina Department
of Corrections, 1980)
Typical mentally retarded inmate is
male.
(Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins § Friel, 1973;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1975; MacEachron,
1978; South Carolina Department
of Corrections, 1980)
Low rates of employment prior to
incarceration.
(Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins § Friel, 1973;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1975; MacEachron,
1978; South Carolina Department
of Corrections, 1980)
Age of typical mentally
retarded inmate is 28 years.
Number of white and nonwhite
inmates is approximately the
same. No significant
difference between groups.
Typical mentally retarded
inmate is male.
Mentally retarded inmates
were employed full and
part-time at lower rate
than nonretarded.
Differences were
statistically significant.


79
rehabilitation and provides for a more orderly existence within
prisons. The low employment rates for mentally retarded inmates
across several studies suggest a need for specialized training
within the institutions to compensate for low employment.
Data for alcohol and narcotic use by the mentally retarded
offender have not appeared in the literature. The Florida
Department of Corrections records self-reported alcohol and
narcotic use prior to incarceration for each inmate. Prior use
of alcohol and narcotics is noted as heavy, light, or none. These
data are suspect in that they are self-reported and, therefore, may
vary widely. They are also not specific as to types of narcotics
or alcohol used nor are they corroborated by any outside source.
Educational characteristics. Low educational attainment for
mentally retarded offenders was noted in several works reviewed for
this study. The mean IQ for mentally retarded inmates in the Florida
Department of Corrections was 61.3 as opposed to 92.7 for nonretarded
inmates. Educational attainment prior to incarceration was
significantly different between mentally retarded and nonretarded
groups. The mean attainment for mentally retarded inmates was 6.0
years as opposed to 9.1 years for nonretarded prisoners. The results
of grade-level and reading literacy testing displayed similar
differences between mentally retarded and nonretarded groups.
While these differences were to be expected based on the presence
of mental retardation, implications for treatment within the prison
system are obvious. Several investigators have demonstrated the


80
efficacy of differential treatment in academic programming for the
mentally retarded (Cegelka & Prehm, 1982; Chinn et al., 1979;
Haring, 1979). None of the studies reviewed indicated any attempts
were made to provide systematic academic programming based on
techniques used to educate the mentally retarded in public school
systems. The Florida Department of Corrections does not provide
special academic programming designed to account for deficits
caused by mental retardation. Similarities and differences between
results reported in the literature and this study are presented in
Table 11.
Criminal history. Current findings about criminality of the
mentally retarded offender are mixed although there appears to be
less reluctance to associate retardation with criminality than was
the case in the 1940s and 1950s. Reichard et al. (1982) noted that
a growing awareness of disproportionate numbers of mentally retarded
offenders involved with the criminal justice system may represent
an administrative function of the system rather than evidence for
a causal relationship between mental retardation and criminal
behavior. It was often reported that types of crimes committed by
the mentally retarded were different from those of the nonretarded
criminal. Several authors noted that mentally retarded offenders
committed crimes against persons more frequently than against
property (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens, 1975; Brown
fj Courtless, 1968; Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, 1975).
Prior criminal rate for mentally retarded offenders was not reported


81
Table 11
Educational Characteristics Reported for the Mentally
Retarded Offender
Conclusion Reported in the Literature Conclusion in This Study
Low educational attainment
(Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins § Friel, 1973;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1976; MacEachron, 1976;
South Carolina Department of
Corrections, 1980)
IQ scores
No study reviewed mean IQ for
nonretarded or mentally retarded
inmates.
Tested grade levels and/or reading
ability
No study included data for
tested grade level or reading
ability.
Average educational attainment
for mentally retarded inmate
was 6.0 years. Difference
between nonretarded groups
and mentally retarded group
was statistically significant.
Mean IQ score for mentally
retarded inmates was 61.3
Mean IQ score for nonretarded
inmates was 92.7. Differences
were statistically significant.
Grade level testing and reading
literacy levels were
significantly different
between mentally retarded and
nonretarded groups.


82
in any studies despite the fact that this was often a critical
issue in consideration for parole (Talarico, 1982).
Differences in criminal behavior for mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates in the present study were not significant.
Prior prison commitments and prior probation sentences were also not
significantly different. These results suggest that the criminal
history for mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates may not differ
as reported in other studies. These results also tend to contradict
the notion that mentally retarded offenders are more disposed toward
criminal behavior than nonretarded prisoners. Conclusions from the
literature and results of this study about criminal history are
presented in Table 12.
Results of Task 1
Various authors have recommended differential treatment of the
mentally retarded offender (Brown § Courtless, 1971; Haskins § Friel,
1973; Santamour § West, 1982). It was often suggested that
differential treatment of the mentally retarded inmate, as in education,
should be based on adaptive behavior deficits unique to the mentally
retarded. Most prison systems in the United States, however, do not
attempt to identify these differences or address them in programming
for inmates (Santamour § West, 1982). This practice is based on the
belief that integration with nonretarded inmates helps in adjustment
to prison routine and, ultimately, rehabilitation. The purpose of
task 1, therefore, was to determine which, if any, adaptive behavior
deficits of mentally retarded inmates were identified by prison


83
Table 12
Criminal History Reported for the Mentally Retarded Offender
Conclusion Reported in the Literature Conclusion in This Study
Mentally retarded inmates committed
most often for crimes against
property.
(Brown § Courtless, 1968;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1975; Reichard,
Spencer, § Spooner, 1982)
Mentally retarded inmates committed
most often for crimes against
people.
(Atlanta Association for
Retarded Citizens, 1975; Brown
§ Courtless, 1971)
Extent and type of prior criminal
record not indicated in any other
study.
Typical mentally retarded
inmate committed for crime
of burglary.
Prior criminal histories for
retarded and nonretarded
inmates did not differ
significantly. Prior number
of prison commitments and
probation sentences did not
differ.


84
officials as requiring specific intervention. Specific program
assignments used to compensate for postulated adaptive behavior
deficits were noted in cases where they had been identified.
Deficits of adaptive behavior were seldom noted in rehabilitation
plans of the mentally retarded inmates. Referral for specialized
treatment to account for identified deficits was often not present.
In cases where some attempts were made to account for adaptive
behavior deficits, referral was often general and not apparently
designed to actually address the deficit area. No special treatment
was indicated but rather provisions were made for programs available
to any inmate within the prison system. The notion that each inmate
requires individualized programming appears based on the belief that
differential treatment is effective in rehabilitation of any inmate
rather than those selected only by low intelligence.
Physical appearance and hygiene. The rehabilitation plans of 31
(72%) mentally retarded inmates contained references to poor physical
appearance or hygiene. This problem was compensated for with
referral to counseling services in the prison in all instances. The
type or frequency of counseling was not noted. No discernable attempt
was made to provide for specialized instruction in this area and it
must be assumed that each case was handled on an individual or
informal basis by prison staff.
Two factors should be considered regarding this category. First,
the level of referrals in this category for nonretarded inmates is
not known. Therefore, it was impossible to determine if referral


85
rates were different from that for nonretarded inmates. Second,
it is possible that aspects of physical appearance and personal
hygiene were not perceived as deficient until after a period of
incarceration had been served. It is reasonable to conclude that
the mentally retarded inmates did, in fact, have deficits in this
area since their rate for disciplinary reports in this area were
almost twice that of the nonretarded sample.
Communication and socialization skills. Poor communication or
socialization skills were noted in the rehabilitation plans of 11
inmates from the mentally retarded group. Eight inmates were
referred to counseling by prison staff. No special programs were
used to aid in remediation of communication or socialization deficits.
The level of deficit was not noted but was apparently a subjective
judgment made by the classification officer.
Independent functioning. Independent functioning was accounted
for by the inmate's ability to initiate activities rather than
displaying an overdependence on others for directions. Deficits
in the ability to function independently were noted in only nine
(21%) cases. No special consideration was noted in any of the cases.
Deficits in the ability to function independently may not be a
serious limitation in the prison environment. The need to follow
orders and comply with rules in such structure takes practical
importance over the ability to function in an independent manner. The
ability to follow prison rules, however, might require some degree of
independence while not under the direct supervision of correctional


86
officers. The possibility exists, therefore, that independent
functioning may not be a skill of practical importance to prison
administrators.
Aggression. Aggressive behavior of mentally retarded inmates
was not mentioned in literature reviewed for this study. Mentally
retarded inmates are thought to be victims (rather than aggressors)
in the prison subculture. Aggressive behavior was noted in only
seven rehabilitation plans. Type of aggressive behavior was not
noted nor were any special provisions made other than referral for
counseling. It was not clear whether judgments about aggressive
behavior were based on criminal history, commitment offense, or
behavior while incarcerated. Increased security classification was
not used to address aggressive behavior in these cases, no apparent
restrictions were placed on these inmates, nor were any attempts made
to provide a higher measure of supervision by the institution.
Task 2
The literature regarding the mentally retarded offender is repleat
with studies that suggest the mentally retarded offender is at a
distinct disadvantage in prison due to adaptive behavior deficits
(Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1971; Haskins & Friel, 1973; Menolascino, 1974). However, these
deficits have been largely postulated based on adaptive behavior
deficits of the mentally retarded observed in educational and vocational
settings.


87
The purpose of task 2 was to determine if differences existed
in adaptation to prison regime between mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates. This was measured by comparing the mean
number of disciplinary infractions received across seven categories
for each group. Results of hypothesis testing across four of the
seven comparisons were not significant at the .05 level. The
finding of no difference in four categories appears to contradict
conclusions of theories proposed in some studies reviewed for this
work.
Assault. Conclusions about criminal characteristics reported
in the literature are mixed as to whether mentally retarded offenders
commit violent crimes (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens,
1970; Brown § Courtless, 1968, 1971; Reichard et al., 1982). Results
of this study, however, suggested that mentally retarded inmates were
incarcerated for crimes against property rather than for violent
offenses against people.
Literature reviewed for this study did not indicate that mentally
retarded inmates were aggressive in prison settings (MacEachron,
1978; Santamour 8 West, 1982; South Carolina Department of Corrections,
1980). The results of task 1 also suggested that prison administrators
did not observe or program for aggressive behavior of mentally retarded
inmates.
Several authors noted that mentally retarded inmates are victims
of aggression rather than aggressors (Brown § Courtless, 1971;
Menolascino, 1974; Reichard et al., 1982; Santamour 8 West, 1978).


88
The findings of this study tend to agree with those found in the
literature that the mentally retarded inmate does not display
aggressive behavior in the prison. Differences were not significant
between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates for assault of a
correctional officer or other inmates.
Disobeying orders. Several authors have noted that mentally retarded
offenders display an inability to adjust to prison regime and comply
with rules or orders (MacEachron, 1974; Menolascino, 1974; Reichard
et al., 1982; South Carolina Department of Corrections, 1980). The
notion that adjustment to prison is different for mentally retarded
offenders has presupposed that the cause is poor adaptive behavior.
The results of this study suggest this may not be the case.
Mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates received disciplinary
reports for disobeying orders at similar rates. It would be reasonable
to assume that mentally retarded inmates would receive more infractions
for disobedience if there was difficulty complying with prison rules
and authority. The lack of difference suggests that mentally retarded
inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections prisons do not display
adaptive behavior deficits in this area.
Escape attempts. Attempted escape is a low incidence infraction
that accounts for a small percentage of all disciplinary problems in
prison. Escape attempts, however, are often viewed as a measure of
adjustment to prison (Talarico, 1984). Several authors have suggested
that mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates attempt escape at
similar rates (Haskins § Friel, 1973; Kentucky Legislative Research
3


89
Commission, 1975). Similar rates for attempted escape have been used
to suggest that mentally retarded inmates have difficulty adapting
to prison (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens, 1975;
Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, 1975).
Mentally retarded inmates in this study attempted escape at a
slightly lower rate than nonretarded inmates. The between group
differences for this category of disciplinary report were not
significant. Use of attempted escape rates to indicate adjustment
to prison is problematic in this study. The rates are so low as to
lose practical value. They do indicate, however, that mentally retarded
and nonretarded inmates attempt escape at similar rates. Adjustment
to prison based on attempted escape, therefore, appears to be similar
for both groups.
Possession of alcohol and narcotics. The mean number of
disciplinary reports for these offenses was significantly lower for
mentally retarded inmates than for nonretarded inmates. It would
appear the level of alcohol and narcotic use admitted prior to
incarceration did not remain constant since the number reported for
mentally retarded inmates is substantially lower than for nonretarded
inmates. It is not clear, however, that differences between mentally
retarded and nonretarded inmates for these offenses can be linked to
alcohol and narcotic use prior to incarceration.
It is doubtful that the lower number reported for mentally
retarded inmates reflects a better ability at concealing controlled
substances than for nonretarded inmates. The lower rate of infractions


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A COMPARISON OF ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOR OF
MENTALLY RETARDED AND NONRETARDED INMATES OF THE
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
By
CRAIG DOUGLAS SMITH
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE
SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN
PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA

This work is dedicated to Maribeth Smith,
my wife and friend,
and to the memory of the late Robert Wrenn.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Early in my program of doctoral study, I had occasion to seek
refuge in a certain corner of the library near the referenced
dissertations. I often would attempt to postpone my scholarly
duties by reading acknowledgements from works of students who had
passed before me. None of these students were known to me but I
was often moved at the outpouring of sentiment expressed to
acknowledge support and help they had received in the arduous task
of completing the dissertation. That said, it is now my time.
I wish to extend my sincere thanks to my supervisory committee.
They have provided me with the highest level of support, guidance,
and understanding. My chairman and friend, Rex Schmid, will have
my enduring gratitude and respect for his patience, support, and
humor. Above all else, Dr. Schmid approaches life's trials with a
special sense of proportion understood by few others. Bob Algozzine
has been living proof that scholarly criticism can be relevant yet
light-hearted. I would like to extend many thanks to Dr. Cary
Reichard for support, practical guidance, and friendship extended
during my stay at the University of Florida. Dr. Larry O'Shea
has given of his expertise freely in the true spirit of academic
collegiality and will be always warmly remembered. Dr. Phil Clark
iii

has provided me with insight into my own leadership and motivation
skills so I will, hopefully, not reprise some of my past blunders.
I thank them all for supervising my studies in a professional and
scholarly manner.
The impact of my fellow students should not go unmentioned. I
was fortunate to be touched by people who have enriched me. They
are too numerous to mention but too special to forget. Dr. Lee
Clark, Greg Valcante, Kim Stoddard, Tom Gollery, P. J. Hudson, Jack
Scott, and Pam Campbell will always have a special place in my memory.
Several other people have been influential on my personal and
professional development. Bill and Sue Evans have provided friendship
and guidance through difficult and pleasant times. They have had the
wisdom to know when to remain silent and when to offer advice. My
former superior officers at the Escambia County School System have
provided me with constant motivation in ways they will never realize.
I thank them. I am very grateful to Leila Cantara for typing this
work. Her patient advice during two periods of graduate work has
saved me from many acts of ignorance. I hope the many friends I have
failed to mention will forgive me for I realize that none of us are
self-made.
Final thanks are saved for my family for they have been my
greatest joy and source of strength. My children, Craig and Robbie,
have given me much more than I will ever be able to return to them.
I owe a staggering debt to my wife, Maribeth, for enduring what surely
has been a long and difficult path to completion of my goal. She
IV

has been an unfailing source of strenth, love, and friendship
throughout our time together. I am better for having had their
company in my journey through life.
v

TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS iii
LIST OF TABLES viii
ABSTRACT ix
CHAPTERS
I INTRODUCTION 1
The Problem 5
Rationale
Development of the Prison System in the United
States 7
Alternative Methods for Treatment of Criminal
Behavior 8
Rehabilitation in the American Criminal Justice
System 10
The Relationship Between Mental Retardation and
Criminal Behavior 12
Rehabilitation of the Mentally Retarded Offender ... 13
Delimitations 15
Limitations 16
Definition of Terms 16
Summary 17
II REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE 19
Selection of Relevant Literature 19
The Nature of the Literature 21
The Efficacy of Rehabilitation Philosophy in
Corrections 23
The Mentally Retarded Offender 29
Prevalence of the Mentally Retarded Offender .... 30
Characteristics of the Mentally Retarded Offender . . 37
Characteristics of the Incarcerated Mentally
Retarded Offender 41
Summary 45
vi
O

111METHODS
47
Subjects 47
Procedures 49
Task 1 49
Task 2 51
Independent Variable 54
Dependent Variables 54
Data Analysis 55
Summary 56
IVRESULTS 57
Descriptive Statistics of Sample Groups 57
Demographic Characteristics of Sample Groups .... 58
Educational Characteristics of Sample Groups .... 61
Criminal History for Sample Groups 63
Analysis of Adaptive Behavior 65
Results of Task 1 66
Results of Task 2 69
Summary 71
VDISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS 73
Review of the Study 73
The Problem 73
Summary of the Method 74
Problems and Limitations 74
Discussion and Implications 75
Descriptive Statistics of Sample Groups 76
Results of Task 1 82
Results of Task 2 86
Significance of the Study 90
Suggestions for Further Research 93
REFERENCES 96
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 102
vii

LIST OF TABLES
Table Page
1 The Efficacy of Rehabilitation Philosophy in
Corrections 24
2 Characteristics of the Mentally Retarded Offender ... 31
3 Design Schema 52
4 Demographic Characteristics of Sample Groups 59
5 Educational Characteristics of Sample Groups 62
6 Criminal History of Sample Groups 64
7 Adaptive Behavior Cluster Skills 67
8 Results of Task 1 68
9 Mean Number of Disciplinary Reports 70
10 Demographic Characteristics Reported for the Mentally
Retarded Offender 78
11 Educational Characteristics Reported for the Mentally
Retarded Offender 81
12 Criminal History Reported for the Mentally Retarded
Offender 83
viii
O

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
A COMPARISON OF ADAPTIVE BEHAVIOR OF
MENTALLY RETARDED AND NONRETARDED INMATES OF THE
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
By
Craig Douglas Smith
August, 1986
Chairman: Rex E. Schmid
Cochairman: Robert F. Algozzine
Major Department: Special Education
The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of
programming for adaptive behavior deficits of mentally retarded
prison inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections. The problem
investigated in this study was, "does the Florida Department of
Corrections prison program compensate for postulated adaptive behavior
differences between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates?" Two
tasks were proposed to investigate this problem. The purpose of
task 1 was to identify the manner and frequency with which adaptive
behavior was provided for in the Florida Department of Corrections
rehabilitation plans for mentally retarded inmates. The purpose of
task 2 was to see if differences existed in adaptation to prison
regime between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates as measured
by disciplinary reports in prison.
IX

The sample for Group 1 (mentally retarded inmates) consisted of
439 cases selected to represent the "typical" or most frequently
occurring mentally retarded inmate in the Florida prison system based
on characteristics of sex, age, and commitment offense. Group 2
(matched nonretarded inmates) was comprised of 439 cases randomly
selected from the population of nonretarded inmates that had the
same selection criteria as Group 1. Group 3 (unmatched nonretarded
inmates) was comprised of 439 cases randomly selected from the population
of nonretarded inmates.
Characteristics of adaptive behavior that relate to prison
populations were compared with rehabilitation plans of selected mentally
retarded inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections to complete
task 1. Group means for number of disciplinary reports received by
mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates were calculated and compared
to complete task 2. One-way analysis of variance and Tukey's test
were used to determine statistical significance.
Results of this study suggested that mentally retarded and
nonretarded prison inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections
adjust to prison regime in a similar manner. The results of this
study suggested that behavior in prison was similar across certain
measures for mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates. Further
research was recommended.
x

CHAPTER I
INTRODUCTION
More than 350,000 persons were incarcerated in federal and state
prisons at any given time in the 1970s (United States Department of
Justice, 1980) with the majority undereducated, underskilled, and
from culturally or financially impoverished backgrounds (Reichard,
Spencer, § Spooner, 1982). The United States Department of Justice
noted in 1980 that median educational achievement level for the
general population was 10.6 years as opposed to only 8.6 years for the
nation's inmates. The incidence of current inmates with no vocational
skills was five times the national average with 90% earning less than
$5,000 per year prior to incarceration as compared with 56% of the
general population at the same income level. To generalize these
findings to the criminal population at large, however, is to assume
the incarcerated population is a representative sample of the criminal
population. This is not necessarily so. There were approximately
6.5 million arrests in the United States during 1980, yet state
correctional facilities only received about 75,000 convicted felons
in the same year (United States Department of Justice, 1980). While
it is recognized that some arrests involved apprehension of the same
individuals more than once, it would appear that no more than 1% of
arrested individuals were committed to state prison systems (Reichard
et al., 1982).
1

2
Mentally retarded inmates are a subpopulation within the
United States prison system (Reichard et al., 1982). Prevalence of
mental retardation in the general population has been estimated to
range from .2 to 2.4% (Tatjan, Wright, Eyman, § Keenan, 1973).
Several investigators since the late 1960s, however, have suggested
that prevalence of mental retardation in the prison population is
much higher (Reichard et al., 1982; Santamour § West, 1978). Using
national surveys, Haskins and Friel (1973) found a rate of 4.1% while
Brown and Courtless (1970) found the rate to be 9.5%. State surveys
have reported prevalence rates that varied from 7.9% (South Carolina
Department of Corrections, 1980) to 39.6% (Atlanta Association for
Retarded Citizens, 1975). Most investigators place the prevalence of
mental retardation in the prison population of approximately 10%
(Reichard et al., 1982). Brown and Courtless (1971) suggested that
subnormal intelligence may be a factor in determining the sentence of
criminal defendants. If this is the case, then disproportionate
numbers of mentally retarded offenders committed to prison should be
viewed as a sentencing alternative used by the courts rather than
evidence to imply that mental retardation leads to criminal behavior
(Reichard et al., 1982).
The prison systems that incarcerate these individuals often
emphasize rehabilitation of inmates (Cole, 1984). A consistent theme
in American corrections since the late 1800s has been that interests
of society are best served by rehabilitating criminal behavior. The
philosophy of rehabilitation suggests that criminal behavior can

3
best be reduced by addressing its causes. Rehabilitation programs
in prison systems often make use of educational and vocational
training designed to address interests and future needs of inmates.
Recreation, religious, and counseling programs are also used to
provide opportunities for inmates to affect changes in their behavior
while incarcerated.
The prison system in Florida is operated as part of the Florida
Department of Corrections. The Department of Corrections is
responsible for the custody, care, treatment, and supervision of
adult criminal offenders committed from the circuit court system of
the State of Florida. Rehabilitation programs operated by the
Department of Corrections include vocational training, academic
classes, counseling programs, recreational opportunities, and
employment in prison-sponsored industry and agriculture. The Florida
Department of Corrections has no legal control over the type of
individuals committed to its custody. It must accept any individual,
regardless of mental status, who is committed by the circuit court.
Mentally retarded prison inmates in Florida are not systematically
segregated for placement in specialized units. Inmates are classified
on the basis of age, sex, conviction offense, educational level, and
security classification or risk. Mentally retarded inmates are
identified by intelligence testing but not by adaptive behavior.
They are expected to comply with the same rules and regulations as
all other inmates in the department. The Florida Department of
Corrections believes this practice has a normalizing effect for

4
mentally retarded prisoners and considers it to be an advantage in
their treatment. This is not an atypical situation in prison systems
in the United States (Reichard et al., 1982; Santamour § West, 1982;
Smith, Reichard, & Nunnery, in press). There is evidence, however, to
suggest that this approach does not adequately address the needs of
the mentally retarded inmate.
Problems of overcrowding, criminal behavior, violence, and sexual
abuse exist in most prison systems. Several authors have suggested
that these problems are compounded by the behavior of the mentally
retarded inmate. Brown and Courtless (1971) reported that departments
of corrections often faced staffing problems and were not able to
provide the individual services and protection required by the mentally
retarded prisoner. When special attempts were made to provide
adequate staff to address adjustment problems and behavior of the
mentally retarded inmate, manpower was diverted from the rest of the
population. Other unique problems were posed to prison administrators
by mentally retarded inmates. The South Carolina Department of
Corrections (1980) reported that
the developmentally disabled offenders suffered from the
system and, conversely, the system suffered from the
presence of this group. In a survey of correctional
officers and inmates, the developmentally disabled
offenders were reported to be frequently abused,
exploited, and manipulated by the brighter inmates.
Developmentally disabled offenders were perceived to
be highly impressionable, and were said to learn
criminal behaviors of which they were previously naive.
The correctional system was reported to suffer from the
developmentally disabled offenders behavior. Deficiencies
in ability to function independently, to comprehend
regulations and procedures, and the continual need to
be protected from brighter inmates intensified problems
of an already overburdened security staff. (p. 4)

5
MacEachron (1978) noted that mentally retarded inmates were
often out of step with the dominant characteristics of the average
prisoner. The mentally retarded prisoner was victimized by more
sophisticated inmates and, because of their desire to be accepted,
the maladaptive consequences of their behavior frequently became
intensified as they assumed values of prison culture.
The Problem
Many prison systems, including Florida's, do not provide
specialized treatment for mentally retarded inmates. It is the
practice of the Florida Department of Corrections that deficits in
adaptive behavior caused by mental retardation are best addressed by
treating mentally retarded inmates in the same manner as inmates with
normal intelligence. The Florida Department of Corrections monitors
inmate behavior through a record of disciplinary infractions compiled
during incarceration. Disciplinary infractions provide a measure of
adaptive behavior in areas such as aggression, compliance with
authority, narcotics and alcohol abuse, and adherence to prison rules.
If this approach is effective in compensating for adaptive
behavior deficits of mentally retarded prisoners, there should be no
group differences in the behavior of retarded and nonretarded inmates.
Therefore, the problem under investigation in this study is, "does
the Florida Department of Corrections prison program compensate for
postulated adaptive behavior differences between mentally retarded
and nonretarded inmates?"

6
Specific questions to be answered in this investigation
include the following:
1. Which adaptive behaviors are addressed in rehabilitation
plans for mentally retarded inmates in the Florida Department of
Corrections?
2. What are the provisions made by the prison system to
compensate for these behaviors?
3. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for disobeying orders differ from the number of
disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
4. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for attempted escape differ from the number of
disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
5. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for assaulting a correctional officer differ from the
number of disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
6. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for assaulting an inmate differ from the number of
disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
7. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for possession of narcotics differ from the number
of disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
8. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for possession of alcohol differ from the number of
disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?

7
9. Does the number of disciplinary reports received by mentally
retarded inmates for failure to maintain personal hygiene differ from
the number of disciplinary reports received by nonretarded inmates?
Rationale
Attempts to correct aberrant social behavior have taken several
forms during the course of western civilization with references to
vengeance and retribution against societal misfits and criminals
appearing throughout recorded history. Initially, acts of revenge
were carried out by relatives or, ultimately, by the tribe of the
injured party. Later the state took responsibility for penalizing
offenders. For many centuries corporal and capital punishment were
the methods used to correct deviant behavior. Imprisonment began in
Europe as part of the social-welfare system during the 1400s.
Indigents were sentenced to periods of confinement to provide labor
for agriculture and public works. Use of physical punishment and
execution to address criminality remained the norm in Europe and the
United States throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries
(Newman, 1978). Imprisonment for criminal behavior, however, was not
widely used until the late 1700s.
Development of the Prison System in the United States
The American prison system began in the 1600s as a means for
addressing poverty rather than criminal behavior. The county work
house resembled a modern prison in terms of purpose if not structure
and was designed to correct behavior, rehabilitate the individual, and
make a productive community member. The religious values of the day

8
permitted understanding and acceptance of "deserving poor" while
the "undeserving poor"--the willfully idle, insane, and mentally
subnormal--were viewed as a threat to community stability and welfare.
These attempts by the community to correct threats to social order
became part of the formal legal codes by the late 1600s (Walker, 1980).
The first institutions used to incarcerate criminals were
established in New England during the early 1700s. The prevailing
Calvinist doctrines that stressed the natural depravity of man and
the power of the devil did not allow optimism about reforming the
criminal. The colonists believed that only severe punishments held
any hope for reducing criminal behavior (Rothman, 1971). These
prisons received their primary impetus from organized religion and
reflected punitive aspects associated with the religious dogma of
the period. The prevailing correctional practice at that time was
to place individuals whose lives were disordered into a highly
structured setting where they could learn self-control. Silence was
supposed to encourage the offender to become penitent, hence the name
penitentiary for the prison. By the 1820s prisons were the principle
American method for correcting criminal behavior and incarceration was
established as a method to prevent crime.
Alternative Methods for Treatment of Criminal Behavior
Society's increased use of incarceration to prevent crime and
correct undesirable social behavior resulted in the overcrowding
of prisons. Early release was first used to address this overcrowding.
Sentences to periods of labor for indigence were often shortened by

9
apprenticeship or indenture. Two methods for shortening sentences of
adult criminals were pardon and commutation which were liberally used
during the nineteenth century in the United States. Wines and
Dwight (1867) reported the incidence of pardon and commutation
increased in proportion to length of sentence. Of all prisoners in
Massachusetts, approximately 12% received pardons or commutations
between 1828 and 1866. The percentage increased from 20.5% for
inmates with sentences of 5 to 10 years, to 32% for those with
sentences longer than 10 years, and 50% for inmates sentenced to life
imprisonment.
Parole was the release of an inmate from prison upon evidence
of rehabilitation and originated in the English criminal justice
system. In 1837, the English Parliament authorized a system whereby
criminals were sent to penal colonies in Australia. Each prisoner's
behavior was systematically evaluated while in the penal colonies and
satisfactory compliance with prison rules resulted in release from
sentence after several years (Hibbert, 1968). In Ireland, parole was
a system of progression from solitary confinement through five
classifications ending in a period of time at a halfway house.
Successful adjustment at the halfway house resulted in release from
sentence (Lindsey, 1925).
Parole and indeterminate sentencing in the United States developed
in an ad hoc manner, often as an expedient solution to a unique case.
Laws creating the indeterminate sentence and parole in the late 1800s
formalized existing practices of many local courts and prisons. The
<9

10
first parole system in the United States was established in 1877 in
New York state. This set a precedent for control of the prisoner for
the maximum term of sentence or until evidence of rehabilitation was
displayed (McKelvey, 1977). New York was the first state to
systematically grade inmate behavior by mandating use of indeterminate
sentencing and parole.
The indeterminate sentence and parole often developed as
separate entities in the late 1800s. Some states adopted both
concepts while others used one without the other. Development was
further complicated by specific provisions in several states for
maximum and minimum sentences. By 1900, 11 states used the
indeterminate sentence and another 20 states had some form of parole
or conditional release (Lindsey, 1925). All states used indeterminate
sentences and parole by 1936 (Walker, 1980).
The Concept of Rehabilitation in the American Criminal
Justice System
American prison systems began to emphasize rehabilitation of
criminal behavior during the last two decades of the 1800s with the
concept of rehabilitation first expressed in writing by the National
Congress of Penitentiary and Reformatory Discipline in 1870 (McKelvey,
1977). The National Congress later became the American Correctional
Association which formulated 37 principles, many of which remain the
basis for rehabilitation philosophy, i.e., indeterminate sentences,
cultivation of the inmate's self-respect, classification of prisoners,
reformation rather than punishment, and development of programs to
make industrious free men rather than orderly and obedient prisoners
(McKelvey, 1977).

11
The sharpest current controversy in corrections focuses on the
efficacy of rehabilitation programs. Several authors have questioned
the value of its practice (Fogel, 1975; Kasselbaum, Ward, § Wilner,
1971; Martinson, 1975). Most current criticism of rehabilitation in
corrections is based on the work of Robert Martinson (1975).
Martinson reviewed over 200 research reports pertaining to rehabilitation
programs and concluded that rehabilitation efforts had no effect on
recidivism. Kasselbaum, Ward, and Wilner conducted an earlier survey
in 1971, and reported it was impossible to make a case for positive
effects of rehabilitation efforts. Proponents of eliminating
rehabilitation called for a more efficient court system to provide
faster trials with more uniform and predictable sentences. They
also recommended that rehabilitation programs be offered on a
voluntary basis (Fogel, 1975). Martinson further suggested that a
fixed penalty for each offense was the only equitable solution for
society and the offender noting the indeterminate sentence frustrated
both prison administrators and inmates. This view has come to be
called the "Justice Theory of Corrections" and relies on retribution
and deterrence for its justification (Bartollas, 1985).
The philosophy of rehabilitation was based on the belief that
criminal behavior could be reduced by treating its causes. Menninger
(1969) noted that society and the offender were best served by changing
the individual from a lawbreaker to a lawabiding citizen. Ellis
MacDougall (1976) reported that rehabilitation programs were never
adequately funded or given more than token support. It was, therefore,

12
unfair to conclude they did not work. MacDougall further argued that
retribution had not worked in the past, therefore, there was no
reason to believe it would work now or in the future. The American
Correctional Association also took a strong position in favor of
rehabilitation in corrections (Beto, Park, § Lejins, 1972). While
most state corrections systems today practice a combination of
rehabilitation and retribution, prison overcrowding, staff shortages,
and budget limitation mitigate exclusive use of either theory.
The Relationship Between Mental Retardation and Criminal Behavior
Several early twentieth century investigators proposed a
relationship between subnormal intelligence and criminal behavior.
Goddard (1914) investigated mental ability of prison inmates as part
of his attempt to develop intelligence tests. He found a majority of
prisoners he studied scored at the lower end of the intelligence scale.
Femald (1915) concluded that mentally retarded individuals would
inevitably become criminals if not properly supervised. Their findings
were based on studies of delinquent youth from which they concluded
25% of all criminals were mentally subnormal. In another study,
Goddard (1915) obtained data from 16 institutions for adult offenders.
He concluded the incidence of mental retardation ranged from 28% to
89%. Glueck and Glueck (1943) completed a survey of 500 women paroled
from a women's prison in Massachusetts in 1934, and found the sample
contained 245 mentally retarded individuals.
Zeleny (1933) reported results of a review of mental retardation
studies conducted between 1910 and 1930. He found much lack of

13
agreement among investigators regarding a relationship between mental
retardation and criminal conduct because of variability in standards
used for testing. He attempted to compare the prevalence estimates
of these studies with the population at large and concluded general
agreement with an average 3.2% male and 5.9% female retarded in the
criminal population.
Several investigators encouraged development of a theory that
mental retardation predisposed a person to criminal behavior (Fernald,
1915; Glueck & Glueck, 1943; Goddard, 1914, 1916; Zeleny, 1933). This
notion was based on large numbers of the prison population measured
as intellectually and socially subnormal. The general view was if
retardation precipitated criminal behavior and retardation was
irreversible, the retarded offender was, therefore, a poor risk for
rehabilitation. A negative stereotype about mentally retarded
offenders persisted as a result of these studies despite the lack of
empirical evidence that correlation between intelligence and criminal
behavior implied causation.
Rehabilitation of the Mentally Retarded Offender
Rehabilitation of the mentally retarded offender traditionally
involved three possible approaches: segregation and use of special
facilities, normalization and individualized treatment within prison
populations, no use of differential treatment (Santamour 5 West, 1982).
Segregation of mentally retarded prisoners has often taken the form
of isolation or housing with sexually deviant inmates. These methods
were reported as undesirable and ineffective (Reichard et al., 1982).

14
Segregation of the mentally retarded inmate in special facilities
has often taken the form of isolation or housing with mentally ill
or institutionalized mentally retarded. Segregation in special
facilities presented unique problems to those offenders and
administrators involved in programming and has generally accomplished
little but incorporation of the worst features of prisons and civil
institutions (Lottman, 1976).
The principle of normalization originated with Samuel Gridley
Howe (1874), was later titled as such by Nirje (1969), and then elaborated
upon by Wolfensberger (1972). Normalization referred to benefits
obtained from treating the retarded person like normal persons,
insofar as possible, while recognizing the individual deficits caused
by mental retardation. Therefore, the retarded person who committed
a crime would be treated in the same ways prescribed for the nonretarded
but with consideration given for mental retardation by individualized,
or differential, treatment.
Normalization requires individualized programming when used in
rehabilitation of criminal behavior. It does not mean treating the
mentally retarded prisoner as normal. It requires that retarded
prisoners have individualized opportunities based on consideration of
their handicap. Kapp (1973) questioned whether these opportunities
were available to retarded offenders in prison under most systems.
He stated that availability of individualized treatment based on
deficits caused by mental retardation was as important to success in
rehabilitation as in education. Overby (1982) noted that lack of

15
differential treatment led to poor adjustment and poor progress while
in prison. Santamour and West (1982) found the retarded inmate
benefited most when prison adjustment was accomplished through a
plan of normalization and differential treatment.
Santamour and West (1977) noted that any social welfare system
provides treatment to its dominant group. There is historic resistance
of corrections programs and social-welfare systems to accept
responsibility for mentally retarded criminals (Santamour § West,
1977). Mentally retarded offenders are misfits in both systems,
therefore, the level of differential treatment available to them is
minimal (Rowan, 1976).
Society's reaction to the mentally retarded has progressed from
ignorance to isolation to treatment. Differential treatment of the
mentally retarded has been used in education and vocational programs
successfully (Chinn, Drew, § Logan, 1979). Rehabilitation theory in
corrections recognizes individualized treatment to correct characteristics
that may cause, or influence, criminal behavior. Treatment is
operationalized in prison systems as harsh punishment, psychiatric
care, counseling, and mixtures in between. It remains important to
distinguish between mentally retarded and nonretarded offenders when
designing and implementing individualized treatment (Overby, 1982).
Delimitations
This study was delimited to the Florida Department of Corrections.
The data analyzed were stored in the Florida Department of Corrections
computer management information system for 26,493 inmates incarcerated
from 1976 through 1985.

16
Limitations
Results obtained in this study are limited with regard to
generalizability to state departments of corrections that classify
prison inmates as to intelligence. A centralized computer management
system was used to secure necessary data. Therefore, human error
with regard to entering data could be a limitation.
Definition of Terms
The following definitions of terms important to this investigation
were developed to insure greater consistency in interpreting results.
Adaptive behavior. Adaptive behavior is the effectiveness or
degree with which an individual meets standards of personal independence
and social responsibility expected for age and cultural group (Chinn
et al., 1979, p. 24).
Criminal justice system. The criminal justice system is comprised
of the activities of police, lawyers, courts, and corrections workers
(Schlitt, 1979, p. 238).
Disciplinary report. A disciplinary report is a written citation
against an inmate for a violation of Florida Department of Corrections
rules or Florida criminal statutes (Florida Department of Corrections,
1984, p. 145).
Felony. A felony is a criminal offense punishable by a term
of at least one year in the custody of the Florida State Department
of Corrections (Bartollas, 1985, p. 28).
Mental retardation. Mental retardation refers to significantly
subaverage general intellectual functioning existing concurrently with

17
deficits in adaptive behavior, and manifested during the developmental
period (Grossman, 1983, p. 11). Florida Department of Corrections
practice, however, operationalizes mental retardation as intellectual
functioning of at least two standard deviations below the mean of the
Otis-Lennon Mental Ability Test.
Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense punishable by
a term of imprisonment of less than one year in a county jail or
correctional facility (Bartollas, 1985, p. 28).
Parole. Parole is the supervision of offenders who have served
a portion of their sentence in a correctional institution and who are
under the continued custody of the state (Bartollas, 1985, p. 196).
Summary
Fiscal and social accountability are important to those concerned
with administration of corrections as society allocates an increasing
amount of financial resources to offender rehabilitation. Efficacy
of rehabilitation practice, however, has come under scrutiny due to
increased crime rates (Clear, 1984). Several authors have suggested
differential treatment based on deficits of adaptive behavior as
important to success in programming for the mentally retarded in
academics, employment, and career education (Cegelka § Prehm, 1982;
Chinn et al., 1979; Haring, 1979). Differential handling of the
mentally retarded offender has also been cited as effective in
rehabilitation of criminal behavior (Reichard et al., 1982; Santamour
$ West, 1982).

18
Differential treatment of the mentally retarded prisoner, as
in education, should be based on adaptive behavior deficits unique
in severity to the mentally retarded. Most prison systems in the
United States, however, do not provide differential treatment for
mentally retarded inmates. This approach is based on the belief that
integration with nonretarded inmates helps in adjustment to prison
routine and, ultimately, rehabilitation. If this approach is effective
in compensating for behavior deficits of the mentally retarded, no
differences should exist between this group and nonretarded inmates
on measures of behavior.

CHAPTER II
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
Results of a review of literature concerning the mentally
retarded offender will be presented in this chapter. Procedures
used for obtaining and selecting literature are detailed, the nature
of the literature is provided, analysis and conclusions are presented.
Selection of Relevant Literature
This review contains relevant literature that met preestablished
criteria. This literature was located using the following sources:
the Criminal Justice Abstracts, the Criminal Justice Periodical Index,
the Criminology and Penology Abstracts, the Dissertation Abstracts
International, and the Cumulative Index to Journals in Education.
Descriptors used in the search included mental retardation, mentally
retarded, rehabilitation, developmental disabilities, criminals,
corrections, correctional treatment, handicapped offender, prison,
and mentally retarded offender.
The initial search consisted of locating those studies published
from 1975 through 1985. A period of 10 years was used for two reasons.
First, due to enactment of Public Law 94-142, the Education For All
Handicapped Children Act, and Section 504 of Public Law 93-112, the
Rehabilitation Act of 1973, it was theorized that special services for
19

20
certain adult mentally retarded offenders would be improved due to
mandates of this law requiring formalized education and treatment
plans for handicapped individuals. Public Law 94-142 was enacted in
1975. Second, there appeared to be a paucity of research in criminal
justice and corrections after 1980 due to a lack of funding by the
Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (Diegelman, 1982). The
Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) was established by
congress in 1968 to provide money for research and administration in
criminal justice. The LEAA still exists although congress has not
appropriated funds for operation since 1979.
The bibliography of each study was examined for additional
references. From the bibliographies of articles published during
the identified years, a number of related articles dating as early as
1966 were also identified. The bibliographies also provided information
about which journals most frequently published articles related to
the topic. Among the journals identified were the American Journal
of Corrections, the Canadian Journal of Criminology, Corrections
Magazine, Corrections Today, Federal Probation, and the International
Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology. The indices
of these journals were examined from 1975 to 1984.
A survey of the card catalog at the University of Florida's main
library revealed several books about corrections, rehabilitation, and
the mentally retarded offender. Among the books reviewed was Popular
Justice (Walker, 1980). This book provided a history of corrections
and its relationship to the criminal justice system. The Retarded

21
Offender (Santamour § Watson, 1982) and Correctional Treatment:
Theory and Practice (Bartollas, 1985) provided a framework for
development of rehabilitation and correctional treatment in the
criminal justice system.
Criteria for initial selection of reports to be included in the
critical review were established. The article had to address some
aspect of corrections or rehabilitation theory and be published
subsequent to 1975. Several studies from 1966 to 1975 were included
in the final analysis of literature. The article had to address the
mentally retarded offender at some point in the criminal justice
system (prevalence, characteristics, crime, arrest, sentencing, or
treatment).
Thirty-two articles met the initial selection criteria. Of that
number, seven were rejected. The remaining 25 studies were evaluated
as positive (+), negative (-), or neutral (0), based on use of data-
based research, use of descriptive statistics provided by state
agencies, reviews of literature, opinion pieces based on reviews of
literature, and opinion pieces without literature reviews.
The Nature of the Literature
The problem addressed in this study, adaptive behavior of the
incarcerated mentally retarded offender, has not appeared in recent
literature. Studies regarding certain characteristics of the mentally
retarded offender were reported prior to 1975. None, however, included
the characteristic of inmate behavior during incarceration. None of
the reports compared behavior characteristics of this population with

22
nonretarded prison inmates. Several reports most closely related
to the topic were chosen with analysis done in subsections concerning
efficacy of rehabilitation in corrections and characteristics of the
mentally retarded offender at various stages of the criminal justice
system. Analysis of literature was done in these subsections for the
following reasons. Concern about the nature and efficacy of
rehabilitation theory is important as a basis for understanding
attempts to differentially treat the mentally retarded offender
(Santamour § West, 1978). It is also important to consider what is
known about characteristics of the mentally retarded offender at
various stages of the criminal justice system. If a case is to be
made for differential treatment in prison based on deficits caused by
mental retardation, an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses in
this literature is required.
An important characteristic of mental retardation concerns deficits
of adaptive behavior (Grossman, 1983). Adaptive behavior or related
concepts have been involved in definition and classification for a major
portion of the history of effort in mental retardation (Chinn et al.,
1979). Only in about the past two decades, however, have
conceptualization and measurement progressed to a point that adaptive
behavior is viewed as a functional parameter of classification of
mental retardation. Primary impetus for this movement came from the
work of Sloan and Birch (1955), which was adapted for the American
Association on Mental Deficiency Manual on Terminology and Classification
(Heber, 1961), and further developed by later revisions of this manual
(Grossman, 1983).

23
Although IQ scores were widely used as the primary determinant
of mental retardation, not all agreed with this practice. The
American Association on Mental Deficiency (AAMD), in its 1961 definition
of mental retardation, noted the importance of social adaptation,
as well as general intelligence (Heber, 1961). The AAMD guidelines
operationalized mental retardation to include significant difficulties
in adapting to the demands of the environment. Subsequent definition
of mental retardation has included this component of adaptive behavior
deficits (Grossman, 1983).
The assumption that unique characteristics of the mentally
retarded offender generalize to behavior while incarcerated requires
closer scrutiny since behavior is often the main indication of
adjustment to prison and rehabilitation (Clear, 1984). Further
information on literature selected for analysis is presented in two
tables, as follows: efficacy of rehabilitation in corrections and
characteristics of the mentally retarded offender.
The Efficacy of Rehabilitation Philosophy in Corrections
Selected research on the efficacy of rehabilitation philosophy in
corrections is reported in Table 1. Presented in the table are author(s)
and dates of publication, subjects, independent and dependent variables,
and conclusions. Six studies are reported, five of which attempted
to measure the efficacy of rehabilitation treatment in prison by
using recidivism rates. One study attempted to judge the effectiveness
of rehabilitation by measuring inmate participation in prison programs.

Table 1
The Efficacy of Rehabilitation Philosophy in Corrections
Author/ Type of Dependent Independent
Year Study Subjects Variable Variable Conclusions
Bailey, 1966
Survey
n=100 treatment
programs
Recidivism
rates
Rehabilitation
programming
Rehabilitation
philosophy not effective
Robison ^
Smith, 1971
Review of
literature
n=75 treatment
programs
Recidivism
rates
Presence of
rehabilitative
treatment
program
No evidence to indicate
reduction in recidivism
based on presnece of
treatment program
Martinson,
1975
Review of
literature
n=200 treatment
studies
Recidivism
rates
Presence of
treatment
program
Rehabilitative treatment
partially effective in
48% of studies;
rehabilitative treatment
not effective in 49% of
studies
Serrill,
1976
Survey
n=1000 prison
inmates
Recidivism
and parole
violations
Presnece of
rehabilitative
treatment in
prison
Presence of treatment
while in prison had no
effect on recidivism or
parole violations
Gendreau §
Ross, 1979
Review of
literature
n=95 interven¬
tion or
treatment
studies
Recidivism
rates
Treatment or
rehabilitation
programming
Recidivism lowered in
86% of studies
reviewed
ro
4^

Table l--Continued
Author/ Type of Dependent Independent
Year Study Subjects Variable Variable Conclusions
Petersilia, Survey
1980
n=50 state
prison systems
Participation
in prison
rehabilitation
program
Availability of
treatment in
prison
Participation of 40% of
prison inamtes at any
given time in any
program

26
It had been theorized that the goal of rehabilitation philosophy
was to change an offender's character, attitudes, or behavior
patterns to diminish criminal propensities (von Hirsh, 1976).
Advocates of rehabilitation philosophy used several arguments to
defend correctional treatment. These authors attempted to refute the
idea proposed by Martinson (1975) that nothing really worked in
rehabilitation of offenders. The idea that rehabilitation had never
been given adequate funding in the American correctional system was
often raised to defend treatment in corrections. Treatment has also
been justified as a necessary part of any humane correctional system
as well as an idea too compelling to abandon (Bartollas, 1985). Most
criticism of rehabilitation philosophy was based on Robert Martinson's
review of over 200 treatment programs from which he concluded
correctional treatment did not work (1975).
An analysis of Martinson's study and conclusions, however,
indicates the following positive aspects of rehabilitation theory:
1. Martinson cites individual counseling as an effective
therapeutic technique that reduced recidivism in several studies.
Martinson noted there was some hope in treating properly selected
subjects if individual therapy was conducted by trained social workers,
2. Martinson stated in his original conclusions that group
counseling was effective if subjects were amenable to treatment and
when counselors were trained in counseling techniques.
3. Martinson found intensive probation or parole supervision
provided encouraging reports of rehabilitation and further indicated
that specially supervised cases appeared to function well in the
community.

27
At least 39 individual studies (48% of those evaluated by
Martinson) were associated with positive or partly positive
recidivism rates. Of the remaining studies, 4% had ambiguous results
and 49% showed negative or no reduction in recidivism. When viewed
in terms of treatment approaches and settings, a greater number of
favorable results are mentioned by Martinson in relation to use of
probation with intensive supervision rather than prison. The results
were about equal in the case of group counseling within residential
settings and psychotherapy within the community. The setting in
which treatment occurred was related to results; lower security of
imprisonment resulted in lower recidivism upon release. Caseworker
characteristics were also associated with a reduction in recidivism.
Inmate characteristics, however, were not linked to success in program.
The notion that lower security classification related to lower rates
of recidivism was not, however, evidence to suggest efficacy of
rehabilitation treatment. Low security classification possibly
reflected demonstrated adjustment to prison not attributable to any
treatment effect. Prior criminal behavior may have been evidence to
suggest a more lawabiding life-style and, therefore, positively
influenced security classification and criminal recidivism.
The efficacy of correctional treatment was questioned by authors
other than Martinson. As early as 1966, Walter Bailey reported
results of 100 evaluations of treatment programs and concluded there
was little evidence to suggest effectiveness of correctional
treatment. He suggested that one or more of the following reasons

28
explained this ineffectiveness: the treatment in and of itself was
not effective, the treatment was not effective in a prison, and
treatment was based on incorrect assumptions regarding causes of
criminality. Bailey's conclusions appeared highly speculative with
no mention made of specific characteristics of treatment programs or
their populations.
Robison and Smith (1971) reviewed 75 treatment programs and
concluded there was no evidence to indicate a reduction in recidivism
rates. As was the case with Bailey (1966), conclusions were not based
on empirical data but were subjective opinions based on reports from
surveyed programs. In both studies, follow-up data concerning the
nature of recidivism were not gathered. No indication of any pattern
of criminal behavior was used to evaluate program efficacy. For
example, revocation of parole may have been due to failure to secure
employment rather than criminal behavior. However, a six-year study
of treatment in California prisons which included a three-year,
postrelease follow-up of 1,000 inmates concluded that treatment had
a negative impact on participatns because (a) they were more hostile
to staff than those in the control group, (b) committed more serious
prison rule infractions, (c) violated parole more frequently, (d)
stayed out of prison a shorter time before violating parole, and
(e) committed more serious crimes than their commitment offenses
while on parole (Serrill, 1976).
Gendreau and Ross (1979) reviewed literature published between
1973 and 1978 regarding treatment programs and found 86% of the 95

29
intervention studies reported success. In these programs more
stringent research methods were used to evaluate correctional
treatment. Of the studies, 33% were random sample experiments, 23%
employed baseline comparisons, and 23% used matched comparison groups.
Most of the successful programs emphasized modifying inappropriate
behavior. According to Gendreau and Ross, this 86% success rate is
convincing evidence that some rehabilitation programs work when
properly designed and staffed.
Advocates of correctional treatment have asserted that rehabilitation
had not been given adequate support to determine effectiveness.
Halleck and Witte noted, in 1977, that correctional rehabilitation
programs have generally been underfunded, understaffed, and carried out
in settings far from ideal. Programs of limited duration and quality
were expected to produce similar effects on the lives of those under
treatment. Supporters of rehabilitation noted that programs were so
few they could only serve a small minority of inmates. Petersilia
(1980) reported findings of a national survey revealing no more than
40% of inmates in state prisons participated in any treatment program
while incarcerated and only 10% of inmates with identified needs in
prison received treatment related to those needs.
The Mentally Retarded Offender
Results of the review of research about the mentally retarded
offender are presented in Table 2. Nineteen studies met the final
selection criteria and were included in the analysis. Twelve of the
reports were based on data-based research with the majority using

30
ex post facto analysis and descriptions of existing records. Seven
of the works were opinion pieces and were included in the analysis
based on their wide acceptance in the field of corrections and the
mentally retarded offender.
Prevalence of the Mentally Retarded Offender
Estimates of prevalence of mental retardation for adults over
19 in the general population range from .2 to 2.4% (Tarjan, Wright,
Eyman, § Keenan, 1973). There is considerable disagreement about
prevalence of mental retardation in the nation's prison population.
Several investigators since the late 1960s have suggested that
prevalence of retarded offenders in the total offender population
is much higher (Brown § Courtless, 1970; Reichard, Spencer, $ Spooner,
1982). Using national surveys, Haskins and Friel (1973) found a
rate of 4.1% while Brown and Courtless (1971) found the rate to be
9.5%. The higher rate of 9.5% resulted from an average of rates
ranging from 2.6% in western states to 24.3% in the southeastern
states. State surveys have reported prevalence rates that varied
from a low of 7.9% (South Carolina Department of Corrections, 1980)
to a high of 39.6% (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens, 1975).
There are several possible explanations for confusion in this
area. A major dimension of mental retardation is subaverage general
intellectual functioning (Grossman, 1983). A number of psychometric
explanations for variability in prevalence rates have been suggested.
These included group as opposed to individual testing, circumstances
and time under which the tests were given, and the type of professional

Characteristics of the Mentally Retarded Offender
Author (s)/
Year
Type of
Study
Subj ects
Dependent
Variable
Independent
Variable
Major Conclusions
Brown 6
Courtless,
1968
Ex post facto
n=430
inmates
Criminal
history
Mental
retardation
Mentally retarded criminals
committed crimes against
people most frequently
Brown 8
Courtless,
1970
Ex post facto
description
n=l,209
inmates
Age, race,
employment
status
Mental
retardation
Typical retarded inmate
29-34 years old, black,
unemployed prior to prison
Brown 5
Courtless,
1971
Survey
n=50 state
prison systems
Prevalence
of mental
retardation,
criminality
Mental
retardation
Prevalence of retardation in
inmate population was 9.5%,
retarded most often committed
crimes of theft and burglary
Giagiari,
1971
Opinion
none
none
none
Conditions associated with
mental retardation resulted
in disproportionate numbers
of mentally retarded
criminals being convicted and
imprisoned
Manne 8
Rosenthal,
1971
Ex post facto
description
n-792
inmates
IQ, age
Mental
retardation
Mentally retarded inmates
were older than nonretarded
inmates in Kentucky prisons

Table 2--Continued
Author(s)/
Date
Type of
Study
Subj ects
Dependent
Variable
Independent
Variable
Major Conclusions
Haggerty,
Kane, §
Udall, 1972
Opinion
none
none
none
Characteristics of mental
retardation caused higher
conviction rates than for
nonretarded criminals
Haskins §
Friel, 1973
Ex post facto
description
n=981
inmates
in Texas
Age, race,
employment,
income level,
prevalence
Mental
retardation
Typical retarded inmate
27-34 years old, nonwhite,
unemployed prior to prison,
income less than 5,000/year,
prevalence was 4.1%
Menolascino,
1974
Opinion
none
none
none
Characteristics of mental
retardation cause poor
adjustment to prison
Atlanta,
1975
Ex post facto
description
n=14,382
inmates in
Georgia
prison
system
Age, race,
employment
status,
prevalence,
criminality
Mental
retardation
Typical retarded inmate 28-31
years old, nonwhite, unemployed
prior to prison, prevalence for
retardation was 39.6%,
retarded most often had record
of crime against people
Kentucky
Legislative
Research
Commission,
1975
Ex post facto
description
n=l,642
inmates in
Kentucky
prison
system
Age, race,
employment,
number of
escape tries,
criminality,
length of
sentence
Mental
Retardation
Typical retarded inmate 26 to
32 years old, nonwhite,
unemployed prior to prison,
less likely to attempt escape
than nonretarded, were most
often committed for crimes
against people, served more of
sentence than nonretarded
prisoner

Table 2--Continued
Author(s)/ Type of
Date Study
Dependent Independent
Subjects Variable Variable
Major Conclusions
McGovern,
1976
Opinion
none
none
none
Characteristics of mental
retardation cause poor
adjustment to prison
Rowan,
1976
Opinion
none
none
none
Characteristics of mental
retardation cause poor
adjustment to prison
Santamour $
West, 1977
Survey
n=960
mentally
retarded
offenders
Disposition
of criminal
cases in
court
Mental
retardation
59% pleaded guilty, 8% had
no attorney, 84% made no
appeals
MacEachron,
1978
Literature
review
n=17 studies
of mentally
retarded
offenders
Sex, age,
race,
employment
prevalence
Mental
retardation
Typical retarded inmate
was male, 28-31 years old,
unemployed prior to prison,
income less than 4,000/year,
prevalence higher when more
complete testing done
Santamour
§ West,
1978
Opinion
none
none
none
Characteristics of mental
retardation result in poor
adaptation to prison
South
Carolina
Ex post facto
description
n=12,971
inmates
Sex, age,
race,
Mental
retardation
Typical retarded inmate was
male, 27-34 years old, non-white,
Department prevalence prevalence was 7.9% for mental
of Corrections, retardation
1980

Table 2--Continued
Author (s)/
Date
Type of
Study
Subjects
Dependent
Variable
Independent
Variable
Major Conclusions
Overby,
1982
Ex post facto
description
n=469
inmates
Age
Mental
retardation
Mentally retarded inmates were
incarcerated at an earlier
age than onretarded inmates
for similar crimes
Soskin,
1982
Ex post facto
description
n=l,211
inmates
Length of
sentence
Mental
retardation
Mentally retarded inmates
served longer in prison than
nonretarded inmates
Reichard,
Spencer, §
Spooner,
1982
Review of
literature/
opinion
none
none
none
Retarded were incarcerated
for property offenses
4^

35
who administered the test (Haskins $ Friel, 1973; Santamour $
West, 1977). Santamour and West (1977) noted circumstances
surrounding intelligence testing of new prisoners involved
significant emotional stress as testing was often conducted within
two weeks of commitment to prison. They suggested that more
realistic testing situations resulted in a lower prevalence of
mentally retarded prisoners. Haskins and Friel (1973) reported that
intelligence testing was frequently administered by poorly trained
personnel who lacked skills and experience interpreting and scoring
these instruments.
The variability of prevalence rates in these studies may be a
function of the population base used to estimate prevalence and the way
mental retardation is defined and operationalized. It appears that
differences in population bases affect prevalence estimates. Rates
tended to be higher when based on total offender populations than when
based only on new admissions to prison. Investigators of the Atlanta
Association for Retarded Citizens (1975) examined this possibility and
concluded that rates based on new admissions in the Georgia
Department of Corrections were consistently lower by 4 to 7% than were
those based on total population of inmates. Prevalence rates also
tended to be higher when all offenders had taken an intelligence
test (39.6% from the Georgia Department of Offender Rehabilitation)
than when only some proportion of all offenders was tested (7.9%
from the South Carolina Department of Corrections, 1980). MacEachron
(1978) compared prevalence rates from a state that gave intelligence

36
tests to all offenders and those from a state that did not and found
the rate higher in the state administering to all prisoners. In
this study uniform testing of all prisoners appeared to more
completely identify those with mental retardation and, therefore,
increased the observed proportion in the population. This finding
supported the suggestion that a source of variability in prevalence
rates may be the method used to determine which inmates are labeled
retarded.
Since institutional records of offenders are the primary source
of information for survey research, the general lack of data on
adaptive behavior skills prior to incarceration or age when the
developmental disability occurred necessitated reliance on
intelligence tests to assess mental retardation. This limitation
must be given careful consideration in selection of tests and in
interpretation of test scores. Since the means and standard
deviations of most intelligence tests differ, comparison of scores
from different sources requires use of standard z scores, i.e., scores
expressed in standard deviations from the mean. Use of standard z
scores is also in agreement with the American Association on Mental
Deficiency's recommended method of operationalizing intellectual
functioning in terms of units of standard deviation (Grossman, 1983).
The large variability of prevalence rates may be explained,
therefore, either by variety of tests used or by use of unadjusted
test scores rather than z scores. The impact of using different tests
has been reported in two studies. The Atlanta Association for

37
Retarded Citizens reported in 1975 that Georgia's prevalence rate
dropped by eight percentage points the first year after changing
diagnostic intelligence tests. Haskins and Friel (1973) found that
when four intelligence tests were given to the same group of
offenders in the Texas Department of Corrections, prevalence rates
varied from 7 to 23.4%. Since recognized intelligence tests were used
in both studies the results suggested that use of unadjusted scores
rather than z scores to identify mental retardation accounted for
the variability of prevalence rates. MacEachron (1978) investigated
this by comparing prevalence rates based on test scores and on standard
z scores and found rates were substantially lower in both the state
that administered intelligence tests to all inmates and the state
that did not. It was further found that prevalence rates based on z
scores were only slightly higher than the estimated range of retarded
adults in the general population (Tarjan et al., 1973).
Characteristics of the Mentally Retarded Offender
Brown and Courtless (1970) noted three phases in the development
of theories concerning characteristics of the mentally retarded
offender. From 1890 to 1920, theorists felt that mental retardation
predisposed an individual to commit criminal acts and attempted to
link mental retardation and criminality with poverty, insanity, and
moral and physical degeneration (Haskins § Friel, 1973). Close to the
onset of World War I, intelligence testing was begun. This represented
an attempt to discriminate between mental retardation and criminal
behavior. Investigators concluded in the early 1900s that the number
of criminals falling in the retarded range was high (Menolascino, 1974).

38
The second period of time to which Brown and Courtless referred
was 1921 to 1960. Theorists during this period questioned whether,
in fact, mental retardation predisposed an individual to criminal
behavior. The view was adopted that levels of intelligence must be
considered within their environmental context (Lane 5 Witty, 1935).
For the first time an attempt was made to relate social factors to
intelligence levels, a move away from constitutional explanations
offered by investigators such as Lomastro (1976).
Current research findings regarding characteristics of the
mentally retarded offender are mixed although there appears to be
less reluctance to associate retardation with criminality than was
the case in the 1940s and 1950s. Reichard et al. (1982) noted that
a growing awareness of disproportionate numbers of mentally retarded
offenders involved with the criminal justice system may represent an
administrative function of the system rather than evidence for a
causal relationship between mental retardation and criminal behavior.
Social characteristics. Although reported prevalence rates
varied considerably, characteristics of mentally retarded offenders
appeared consistent across several studies. Typical mentally
retarded offenders were reported to be in their late 20s to early
30s, nonwhite, left school between sixth and ninth grade, achieved
a second to third grade equivalency, held low-skill employment, and
lived on welfare or below the poverty level (Atlanta Association for
Retarded Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless, 1970; Haskins § Friel,
1973; Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, 1975).

39
MacEachron (1978) reviewed studies of mentally retarded offender
characteristics which included parolees, probationers, prisoners,
and those incarcerated awaiting trial. The author concluded the
typical mentally retarded offender was most likely a male in his
late 20s or early 30s, a sixth grade dropout, unemployed with few
marketable vocational skills, and living below poverty level.
Legal characteristics. A disproportionate number of mentally
retarded offenders appeared to be arrested, convicted, and sentenced.
Brown and Courtless surveyed incarcerated mentally retarded offenders
in 1970. They found the mentally retarded defendant was not represented
by legal counsel in 7.7% of cases. Of mentally retarded offenders,
59% entered pleas of guilty to their charges. Of those entering
guilty pleas, the plea was to the original charge in 80% of cases.
Confessions were obtained from mentally retarded offenders in 63% of
cases. No pretrial psychological examination as to competency was
conducted in 78% of cases. No appeals were made in 88% of cases as
opposed to 47% in cases involving offenders with normal intelligence.
Santamour and West reported similar results in a 1977 survey:
1. 59% of mentally retarded defendants pleaded guilty to
original charges,
2. 80% of mentally retarded offenders did not attempt plea
bargaining,
8% of all mentally retarded offenders were not represented
by counsel at any time,
3.

40
4. 66% of mentally retarded offenders confessed to original
crimes,
5. issues of competency were not raised in 92% of
cases, and
6. no appeals were made in 84% of cases.
Similarly, Giagiari (1971) noted that mentally retarded suspects
confessed more easily, reacted more readily to friendly suggestions,
were more easily intimidated, and pleaded guilty more often than
offenders with normal intelligence. Haggerty, Kane, and Udall (1972)
reported characteristics of retardation often did not allow them to
adequately help in their own defense. The mentally retarded offenders
lacked ability to remember details, locate witnesses, and testify
credibly. The conclusions of Haggerty et al. (1972) supported
conclusions of Haskins and Friel (1973) that characteristics and
behavior of the mentally retarded assured a disproportionate number
being arrested, convicted, and incarcerated. Mentally retarded
offenders committed crimes similar to others brought into the criminal
justice system. They were, however, more likely to be arrested and
convicted.
Criminal history. Glueck and Glueck theorized as early as 1943
that types of crimes committed by the mentally retarded were different
from those of nonretarded criminals. Several authors noted that
mentally retarded offenders committed crimes against persons more
frequently than against property (Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless, 1968; Kentucky Legislative Research

41
Commission, 1975). Offenses for narcotics, escape, or parole
violation were infrequent (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens,
1975). No studies investigated severity of offenses committed by
mentally retarded offenders despite the fact that type of offense is
often a critical issue in consideration for parole (Talarico, 1982).
Brown and Courtless (1971) found mentally retarded offenders
committed crimes of burglary and theft most frequently. It was
suggested the mentally retarded offender often had a history of
non-violent offenses resulting in incaraceration deemed necessary
to halt further criminal activity rather than protect society from
violence (Reichard et al., 1982).
Contradictions were also apparent regarding length of sentence.
The Georgia Department of Offender Rehabilitation and the Kentucky
Legislative Research Commission concluded that mentally retarded
offenders received sentences from two to eight years longer than
nonretarded offenders. Haskins and Friel (1973), however, noted no
difference between sentences of retarded and nonretarded inmates in
the Texas Department of Corrections.
The Mentally Retarded Offender in Prison
Problems of overcrowding, increased criminal behavior, violence,
and sexual abuse exist in most prison systems. They are frequently
compounded by the presence of the mentally retarded offender. Brown
and Courtless (1970) reported that departments of corrections often
faced staffing problems and were not able to provide the individual
services and protections required by the mentally retarded offender.
O

42
When special attempts were made to provide adequate staff to address
needs of the mentally retarded offender, manpower was diverted
from the rest of the population.
Other unique problems were posed to prison administrators by
mentally retarded offenders. The South Carolina Department of
Corrections (1980) reported mentally retarded offenders and the
prison system suffered from the presence of this group. In a survey
of correctional officers and inmates, mentally retarded offenders were
reported to be frequently abused, exploited, and manipulated by more
intelligent inmates. Mentally retarded prisoners were perceived to
be highly impressionable and learned criminal behaviors of which they
were previously naive. The correctional system was reported to suffer
from the retarded offender's presence due to their deficiencies in
ability to function independently, comprehend regulations and
procedures, and the continual need to be protected from brighter
inmates. The presence of the mentally retarded prisoner intensified
problems of an already overburdened prison system. The conclusions
drawn by the investigators in this study, however, are problematic.
The perceptions measured did not necessarily reflect adaptive behavior
of mentally retarded prisoners. Attitudes and preferences were not
based on empirical data or limited to those having direct contact
with mentally retarded prisoners.
Several authors suggested that mentally retarded inmates differ
in some characteristics from the normal inmate population. Haskins
and Friel (1973) indicated that because retarded offenders remained

43
longer in institutions, they were older than their nonretarded
peers by two years. Manne and Rosenthal (1971) noted 55.4% of
mentally retarded inmates in the Kentucky Department of Corrections
were 28 years or older, whereas 43.0% of the nonretarded population
fit this category. Furthermore, a significant relationship between
age at first incarceration and IQ was found. Mentally retarded
offenders were incarcerated at an earlier age than nonretarded
counterparts (Overby, 1982). Mentally retarded offenders were found
to be disproportionately members of minority groups. Haskins and
Friel (1973) concluded that two-thirds of mentally retarded prison
inmates were black, while only one-third of the nonretarded group
was black. Brown and Courtless (1971) reported that 58% of prison
inmates with IQs below 55 were nonwhite.
Length of sentence. The mentally retarded offender differed
from nonretarded prisoners in length of incarceration (Reichard et al.,
1982; Soskin, 1982). Of mentally retarded inmates in the Kentucky
Department of Corrections, 42% had served more than three years of
their present sentence as opposed to 23.5% of nonretarded. Several
reasons were proposed for this disparity. They were (a) inability
of the retarded offender to finish programs that were required for
consideration for parole, (b) nature of offenses for which the
retarded offender is incarcerated, and (c) higher incidence of rule
infractions (Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, 1975).
Haskins and Friel (1973) agreed with these conclusions. They stated
the mentally retarded were often unable to present defined employment

44
and residential plans in consideration for parole. Inability to
establish employment has been reported as a major obstacle to the
mentally retarded offender gaining parole (Talarico, 1982).
Behavior while incarcerated. Behavior of inmates is often
cited as indicative of adjustment to incarceration (Bartollas, 1985).
Adjustment to incarceration is an important prerequisite to
consideration for parole (Sacks § Logan, 1984). Disciplinary
infractions while incarcerated are the most frequent reason to deny
parole (Talarico, 1982). Prison behavior and obtaining parole,
therefore, are the main indicators of successful adjustment to prison.
Several authors have proposed that rehabilitation of mentally retarded
offenders may be enhanced by increased use of parole (Friel, 1976;
Smith, Reichard, § Nunnery, in press; Soskin, 1982). MacEachron (1978)
postulated that the inmate's disciplinary record influenced success
or failure to gain parole. McGovern (1976) found the mentally retarded
prisoner often was hampered in adjustment to prison by inability to
tolerate frustration or delay gratification, poor impulse control,
and cyclical motivation. Further complications for prison adjustment
resulted from the retarded offender's propensity to be easily
manipulated by more intelligent inmates (Menolascino, 1974; Rowan,
1976; Santamour § West, 1978).
The mentally retarded offender was found slower to adjust to
prison routine than the nonretarded inmate and often had difficulty
comprehending what was expected of him resulting in more frequent rule
infractions (Santamour $ West, 1978). They were frequently the brunt

45
of practical jokes and often used as scapegoats or sexual objects
by more intelligent peers (Reichard et al., 1982). Haskins and
Friel (1973) postulated these factors accounted for a higher level
of disciplinary reports for mentally retarded inmates. This notion
was not supported, however, by data on inmate behavior in prison.
Summary
The idea that mentally retarded individuals benefit from
educational and vocational programs designed to account for
intellectual and behavioral deficits caused by retardation is well
documented in the literature (Blackhurst § Berdine, 1981; Chinn et al.,
1979; Haring, 1979). The benefit of differential treatment in education
has been based on demonstrated differences in the characteristics of
mentally retarded and nonretarded individuals (Chinn et al., 1979).
Unique characteristics of the mentally retarded offender often led
investigators to assume that differential treatment in prison also
is beneficial (Haskins § Friel, 1973; Santamour f) West, 1978). These
characteristics include the following:
1. The mentally retarded offender is arrested, convicted, and
incarcerated in disproportionate numbers (Brown $ Courtless, 1981;
Reichard et al., 1982).
2. The mentally retarded offender is more often male, underemployed,
and less educated than the nonretarded offender (Brown & Courtless,
1971; Reichard et al., 1982).
3. The mentally retarded offender committed crimes against
people more often than crimes against property (Brown & Courtless, 1968).

46
4. The mentally retarded offender served more time in prison
than did the nonretarded offender (Reichard et al., 1982; Soskin,
1982).
5. The mentally retarded offender was often unable to adapt
to prison routine, rules, and expectations resulting in more
adjustment and discipline problems (Brown § Courtless, 1971;
Haskins § Friel, 1973).
It was frequently proposed that differential treatment of the
mentally retarded offender was needed to facilitate rehabilitation
(Brown & Courtless, 1971; Haskins 5 Friel, 1973; Reichard et al., 1982;
Soskin, 1982). The criminal justice system, however, has been slow
to recognize the need for differential treatment of the mentally
retarded offender (Santamour § West, 1982). The theory that
differential treatment is required to rehabilitate mentally retarded
offenders has been based largely on assumptions that characteristics
of mental retardation, including adaptive behavior deficits, affect
inmate behavior. Studies that reported characteristics of mentally
retarded offenders and included adaptive behavior in prison are not
present in the literature. If resources are to be used to support
differential treatment of the mentally retarded inmate, it is important
to determine if their adaptive behavior differs from the nonretarded
inmate.

CHAPTER III
METHODS
Methods of the study are presented in this chapter. The
chapter is divided into six sections, i.e., subjects, procedures,
independent variable, dependent variables, data analysis, and summary.
This study was an ex post facto description and comparison of the
adaptive behavior of mentally retarded and nonretarded prison inmates
in the Florida Department of Corrections prison system. An ex post
facto design was used because the independent variable of mental
retardation was present prior to this study and, therefore, not
subject to experimental manipulation.
Data on inmate characteristics and behavior were supplied by the
Florida Department of Corrections computerized management information
system. Records were supplied by the Department of Corrections for
inmates incarcerated from 1976 through 1985. Inmates were divided into
three groups for this investigation and selected as mentally retarded
or nonretarded based on results of intelligence testing conducted by
the Department of Corrections.
Subjects
Assignment as mentally retarded or nonretarded was based on IQ
score using the following criteria. The Otis-Lennon Mental Ability
47

48
Test has a mean score of 100, standard deviation of 16, and standard
error of measurement of 4. It is the practice of the Florida
Department of Corrections to operationalize mental retardation
as intellectual functioning of at least two standard deviations
below the mean of the Otis-Lennon Mental Ability Test.
Group 1 (mentally retarded; was drawn from the population of
2,651 cases with IQ scores of 68 or below. Variables of age, sex,
and commitment offense were used to sample what was the "typical”
or most frequently occurring mentally retarded inmate. The mean
age of inmates with IQs below 68 was determined to be 28 years with
a standard deviation of 6.8. Inmates whose age was within plus or
minus one standard deviation of the mean were used. The most
frequently occurring sex in the population of inmates with IQ scores
below 68 was male (91%) and the commitment offense most frequently
found in this population was burglary (41%). A computer generated
cross tabulation of these variables resulted in a sample size for
Group 1 of 439 cases. Group 2 (matched nonretarded) consisted of
439 cases from the population of 23,842 inmates with IQ scores of
84 or above that met the same criteria as Group 1, i.e., age between
21 and 35 years, male, and committed to prison for burglary. Group 3
(unmatched nonretarded) included inmates from the population with
scores above 84. Group 3, however, was not matched with Group 1 as
to commitment offense, sex, or age. Group 3 was comprised of the
"typical" or most frequently occurring inmate in the population of
23,842 with IQ scores above 84 regardless of age, sex, or commitment

49
offense. Group 3 consisted of 439 cases randomly selected from
this population. Descriptive data are reported for all groups
regarding prior criminal history, race, average tested grade level,
tested reading level, employment status, and family history at time
of commitment (see Chapter IV).
Procedures
The efficacy of programming for adaptive behavior deficits of
mentally retarded prison inmates in the Florida Department of
Corrections was investigated in this study. The Florida Department
of Corrections maintains that adaptive behavior deficits of the
retarded prisoner are best addressed by treating them in the same
manner prescribed for normal inmates. If programming based on this
practice works to compensate for adaptive behavior deficits, no
differences would be expected between behavior of mentally retarded
and nonretarded inmates.
Two tasks were proposed to investigate this problem. The purpose
of task 1 was to identify the manner and frequency with which adaptive
behavior was provided for in the Florida Department of Corrections
rehabilitation plans for mentally retarded inmates. The purpose of
task 2 was to see if differences existed in adaptation to prison
regime between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates as measured
by disciplinary reports in prison.
Task 1. Adaptive behavior has been defined as the effectiveness
or degree with which an individual meets standards of personal
independence and social responsibility expected for age and cultural

50
group (Chinn et al., 1979). The definition of mental retardation
includes deficits in adaptive behavior. Adaptive behavior deficits
are often quantified by use of rating scales for adaptive behavior.
The Vineland Social Maturity Scale (VSMS) (Coll, 1953) is
perhaps the most widely known and widely used device for assessment
of social competence and adaptive behavior. The VSMS assesses 117
behaviors clustered into eight aspects of social competence.
The American Association on Mental Deficiency (AAMD) developed
an instrument specifically for the evaluation of adaptive and
maladaptive behavior, the AAMD Adaptive Behavior Scale (ABS). The
ABS is described as also being appropriate for individuals who are
mentally retarded or emotionally disturbed. This instrument assesses
the individual's effectiveness in adapting to natural and social
demands of the environment. Several factors are evaluated, such as
self-abusive behavior, destructive behavior, sexually aberrant behavior,
and independent functioning.
A list of areas of adaptive behavior common to The Vineland
Social Maturity Scale and the AAMD Adaptive Behavior Scale was
formulated by examining each instrument and subjectively grouping
common areas. These areas of adaptive behavior were limited to those
relevant to, or observable in, prison systems.
The Florida Department of Corrections formulates an individual
rehabilitation plan for each inmate committed to prison. This plan
addresses areas specific to the needs of each inmate. Educational
programs, vocational training, counseling referrals, recreation plans,

51
and behavior, among others, are addressed for each inmate as deemed
appropriate by classification specialists within the prison.
Task 1 addressed the frequency and manner with which adaptive
behavior of mentally retarded inmates was accounted for by the
Florida Department of Corrections. The sample size of Group 1
(mentally retarded) was 439. A random sample of 44, or 10%, from
Group 1 was selected. The rehabilitation plans for this sample were
reviewed and analyzed to determine which, if any, provisions for
adaptive behavior were made to account for adaptive behavior areas
common to the AAMD and Vineland scales. In cases where adaptive
behavior was addressed in the rehabilitation plan, specific programs
used to compensate for adaptive behavior deficits were noted.
Task 2. The Florida Department of Corrections monitors inmate
adjustment to prison through a record of disciplinary infractions
compiled during incarceration. Disciplinary infractions provide a
measure of behavior in areas such as aggression, compliance with
authority, narcotics and alcohol abuse, and adherence to prison rules.
Mentally retarded inmates are not treated in special programs.
They are expected to comply with the same rules and regulations as
all other inmates in the department. The Florida Department of
Corrections believes this philosophy has a normalizing effect for
mentally retarded prisoners and considers it to be an advantage in
their treatment. If this philosophy works in the desired manner,
there should be no differences in group behavior between mentally
retarded and nonretarded inmates. The design schema is presented in
Table 3.
a

52
Table 3
Design Schema
Group Independent Variable
Dependent Variable
Group 1 (X) mentally retarded Yi(number DRs: disobeying orders)
Y2(number DRs: attempted escape)
Y3(number DRs: assaulting
correctional officer)
Y4(number DRs: assaulting an
inmate)
Y5(number DRs: possession of
narcotics)
Y6(number DRs: possession of
alcohol)
Y7(number DRs: failure to
maintain personal hygiene)
Group 2 (X^) matched nonretarded Y^(number DRs: disobeying orders)
Y2(number DRs: attempted escape)
Y3(number DRs: assaulting a
correctional officer)
Y4(number DRs: assaulting an
inmate)
Y5(number DRs: possession of
narcotics)
Yg(number DRs: possession of
alcohol)
Y-j (number DRs: failure to
maintain personal hygiene)
Group 3 (X2) unmatched nonretarded Yi(number DRs: disobeying orders)
Y2(number DRs: attempted escape)
Y3(number DRs: assaulting a
correctional officer)
Y4(number DRs: assaulting an
inmate)
Yg(number DRs: possession of
narcotics)
Yg(number DRs: possession of
alcohol)
Y7(number DRs: failure to
maintain personal hygiene)

53
The following null hypotheses were derived as a measure of
inmate behavior:
Ho 1: There is no significant difference in the number of
disciplinary reports received for disobeying orders
between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates.
Ho 2: There is no significant difference in the number of
disciplinary reports received for attempted escape
between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates,
Ho 3: There is no significant difference in the number of
disciplinary reports for assaulting a correctional
officer between mentally retarded and nonretarded
inmates.
Ho 4: There is no significant difference in the number of
disciplinary reports received for assaulting an inmate
between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates.
Ho 5: There is no significant difference in the number of
disciplinary reports received for possession of
narcotics between mentally retarded and nonretarded
inmates.
Ho 6: There is no significant difference in number of
disciplinary reports for possession of alcohol between
mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates.
Ho 7: There is no significant difference in number of
disciplinary reports for failure to maintain personal
hygiene between mentally retarded and nonretarded
inmates.

54
Independent Variable
The independent variable in this study was mental retardation.
The Florida Department of Corrections administers a battery of
standardized tests to each inmate shortly after incarceration at
the Lake Butler Reception and Diagnostic Center. The inmate
records contained within the computerized management information
system of the Florida Department of Corrections include 26,493 cases
who have been given intelligence testing using the Otis-Lennon
Mental Ability Test.
The various levels comprising the Otis-Lennon Mental Ability Test
were designed to provide comprehensive assessment of the general
mental ability of the tested subjects. The Otis-Lennon IQ score is a
normalized standard score with a mean of 100 and a standard deviation
of 16 points. The IQ score is an index of the subjects relative
mental ability when compared with others having taken the same test.
Dependent Variables
Inmates may be cited for violations of Department of Corrections
rules or violations of Florida statutes. The Department of Corrections
keeps computerized records as to the number of disciplinary infractions
compiled for each inmate. This number is reported for each inmate
in this study in seven areas.
Disobeying orders. Disciplinary reports for disobeying orders
result from disobeying any verbal or written order given by a staff
member or from disobeying institutional regulations.
Attempted escape. Disciplinary reports for attempted escape are
issued if an inmate is out of an assigned area or off prison grounds
without permission.

55
Assaulting a correctional officer. Disciplinary reports for
assaulting a correctional officer are issued if an inmate strikes
or threatens physical harm to a correctional officer.
Assaulting an inmate. Disciplinary reports for assaulting an
inmate are issued if an inmate strikes or threatens physical harm
to another inmate.
Possession of narcotics. Disciplinary reports for possession
of narcotics are issued if an inmate is found to be in possession of
any controlled substance other than prescription drugs.
Possession of alcohol. Disciplinary reports for possession of
alcohol are issued if an inmate is found to be in possession of any
alcoholic beverage.
Failure to maintain personal hygiene. Disciplinary reports for
failure to maintain personal hygiene are issued if an inmate fails
to maintain acceptable hygiene or appearance of housing area.
Data Analysis
Computerized data supplied by the Office of Planning, Research,
and Statistics of the Florida Department of Corrections were used in
this investigation. Meetins were held with representatives of the
Department of Corrections and permission to secure and analyze these
data for purposes of the study was granted. The Department of
Corrections supplied data, on computer tape, for 26,493 prisoners.
The data were transferred and analyzed using the Statistical Package
for the Social Sciences (SPSS).

56
Group means for number of disciplinary reports received by
mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates were calculated and compared
to test each hypothesis. One-way analysis of variance was used to
determine significance among groups. Tukey's test was used to
determine pairwise significance between groups. The .05 level of
probability was used in all hypothesis testing.
Summary
Adaptive behavior of mentally retarded prison inmates was
investigated in this study. Characteristics of adaptive behavior
that relate to prison populations were compared with rehabilitation
plans of selected mentally retarded inmates in the Florida Department
of Corrections. Disciplinary records of mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates were compared to determine if differences exist
in adjustment to prison.

CHAPTER IV
RESULTS
Results of the study are presented in Chapter IV. Adaptive
behavior of mentally retarded prison inmates incarcerated in the
Florida Department of Corrections was investigated in this study.
Two tasks were completed to investigate this problem. The purpose
of task 1 was to identify the manner and frequency that adaptive
behavior was provided for in the Florida Department of Corrections
rehabilitation plans for mentally retarded inmates. The purpose of
task 2 was to see if differences existed in adaptation to prison
regime between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates as measured
by disciplinary reports in prison. The chapter includes descriptive
statistics on the samples used for each group, results of task 1
regarding the frequency and manner that the Florida Department of
Corrections addresses adaptive behavior of mentally retarded inmates,
and results of task 2 regarding the number of disciplinary reports
for each group.
Descriptive Statistics
Group 1 (mentally retarded inmates) was drawn from the population
of 2,651 cases with IQ scores of 68 or below. In an attempt to sample
what was the "typical" or most frequently occurring mentally retarded
57

58
inmate in this population, the variables of age, sex, and commitment
offense were used. The mean age of inmates with IQs below 68 was
determined to be 28 years with a standard deviation of 6.8. Inmates
whose age was within plus or minus one standard deviation of the
mean were used. The most frequently occurring sex in the population
of inmates with IQ scores below 68 was male (91%) and the commitment
offense most frequently found in this population was burglary (41%).
A computer generated cross tabulation of these variables resulted
in a sample size for Group 1 of 439 cases.
Group 2 (matched nonretarded) consisted of 439 cases from the
population of 23,842 inmates with IQ scores of 84 or above that met
the same criteria as Group 1, i.e., age between 21 and 35 years,
male, and committed to prison for burglary. Group 3 (unmatched
nonretarded) included inmates from the population with scores above
84. Group 3, however, was not matched with Group 1 as to commitment
offense, sex, or age. Group 3 was comprised of the "typical" or most
frequently occurring inmate in the population of 23,842 with IQ scores
above 84 regardless of age, sex, or commitment offense. Group 3
consisted of 439 cases randomly selected from this population.
Demographic Characteristics
Characteristics of race, prior narcotics use, prior alcohol use,
employment status at arrest, and marital status at arrest were examined
for each group. An independent samples chi-square test was used to
determine possible effects of each variable and group assignment.
Frequencies for demographic characteristics and results of chi-square
tests are presented in Table 4.

59
Table 4
Demographic Characteristics of Sample Groups
Group Ia Group 2a Group 3a
Variable Frequency Frequency Frequency df
Race
White
217
49%
222
50%
214
49%
8.008
6
Black
201
46%
187
42%
209
48%
Other
8
1%
12
2%
10
2%
Hispanic
13
3%
18
4%
6
1%
Prior narcotics use
Light use
189
43%
177
40%
171
39%
3.852
4
Heavy use
79
18%
68
15%
72
16%
No use
171
39%
194
44%
196
45%
Prior alcohol use
Light use
302
69%
318
72%
309
70%
4.219
4
Heavy use
84
19%
62
14%
71
16%
No use
53
12%
59
13%
59
13%
Employment status
at arrest
Full-time
172
39%
238
54%
230
52%
61.271*
4
Part-time
101
23%
128
29%
121
28%
Unemployed
165
39%
73
17%
88
20%
Marital status
at arrest
Married
188
43%
203
46%
215
49%
3.352
2
Single
251
57%
236
54%
224
51%
an=439 for each group.
*significant at the .05 level.

60
Race. Racial makeup for each group included white, black,
Hispanic, and other. The Florida Department of Corrections
categorizes Oriental and American Indian inmates as "other.”
Examination of the raw data suggested that each sample group was
comprised of approximately equal numbers from each racial category.
Each group contained approximately equal proportions of white, black,
and Hispanic inmates. The obtained X“=8.832, df=6, was not significant
at the .05 level.
Prior narcotics use. The Florida Department of Corrections
records data on prior narcotics use for each inmate. The accuracy
of these data is suspect in that this figure is self-reported by the
inmate during routine classification and testing. Narcotics use is
categorized as light, heavy, or none. No attempt is made to record
types of narcotics used prior to incarceration. There are no
guidelines as to what constitutes light or heavy narcotics use other
than subjective judgment of the examiner.
Proportions between groups appeared to suggest that self-admitted
narcotic use was approximately the same for each sample group. The
obtained X =3.852, df=4, was not significant at the .05 level for
prior narcotics use.
Prior alcohol use. Use of alcohol prior to incarceration is also
a self-admitted statistic. Prior alcohol use is categorized as light,
heavy, or none, by inmate admission. Type of alcohol used is not
recorded. Examination of the raw data suggested approximately the
same levels of alcohol use for each group. The obtained X^=4.219,
df=4, was not significant at the .05 level.

61
Employment status at arrest. Data regarding employment status
at time of arrest are recorded for each inmate at the time of
incarceration. Employment status at the time of arrest is noted
since those inmates who are employed often lose their jobs as a
result of time spent incarcerated waiting disposition of charges.
Categories used by the Department of Corrections include full-time,
part-time, and unemployed.
Examination of the raw data indicated that a much greater number
of mentally retarded inmates (38%) were unemployed at the time of
arrest than nonretarded inmates. The obtained X^=61.271, df=4, was
significant at the .05 level.
Marital status at arrest. Inmate marital status is recorded
during the evaluation procedure conducted by the Department of
Corrections shortly after incaraceration. Marital status is recorded
as married or single. Frequencies for each category in each group
appear similar. The obtained X~=3.356, df=2, was not significant at
the .05 level.
Educational Characteristics of Sample Groups
The Florida Department of Corrections maintains educational data
on all inmates regarding age in years, IQ test score, educational
attainment prior to incarceration, tested grade level, and literacy
reading level. One-way analysis of variance was used to test for
significant differences between group means and Tukey's tests were
used to determine pairwise differences where appropriate. Group means
and standard deviations are presented in Table 5.

62
Table 5
Educational Characteristics of Sample Groups
Variable
Group
Mean
Ia
SD
Group
Mean
2a
SD
Group
Mean
3a
SD
Age (years)
28.2
6.2
28.2
6.2
26.4
5.1
IQ score
61.3
5.2
91.3
9.3
92.7
9.8
Educational
attainment (years)
6.0
0.7
9.3
3. 1
9.1
3.3
Average tested
grade level (years)
6.1
3.7
8.4
3.5
9.1
3.2
Literacy reading
level (years)
3.1
1.9
6.2
2.1
6.4
2.3
an=439 for each group.
Age. Age is reported for each sample group. There was no
difference between mean age of Group 1 and Group 2 since they were
matched for sampling. Mean age between Group 2 and Group 3 differed
by 1.8 years. There was no significant difference between mean age
for Group 2 and Group 3.
IQ test score. The mean IQ test score between groups differed
significantly. This was expected since IQ test score reflected mental
retardation and was, therefore, used to select for each group.
Differences were significant at the .05 level between Group 1 and
Group 2 as well as between Group 1 and Group 3.

63
Educational attainment. Educational attainment reflects the
highest grade completed by each inmate prior to incarceration. The
mean attainment for Group 1 (6-0) was significantly different from
the mean level of Group 2 (9.3) and Group 3 (9.1). However, no
difference was noted between Group 2 and Group 3 at the .05 level
of significance.
Average tested grade level. The average tested grade level
reflects results of testing conducted by the Florida Department of
Corrections upon incarceration. Significant differences were reported
between groups at the .05 level. Group 1 (4.1) was found to be
significantly different from both Group 2 (8.4) and Group 3 (9.1) at
the .05 level. There was no significant difference between Group 2
and Group 3 for average tested grade level.
Literacy reading level. The literacy reading level represents
results, in years, of testing to determine reading level at time of
incarceration. The mean reading level for Group 1 (3.1) was found to
be significantly different from that of Group 2 (6.2) and Groun 3
(6.4). Levels for Group 2 and Group 3 were not significantly different
at the .05 level, however.
Criminal History for Sample Groups
Criminal history is recorded by the Department of Corrections
for each inmate as to felony convictions, felony probation sentences,
prior felony paroles, prison commitments, misdemeanor convictions, and
misdemeanor probations. Means and standard deviations are presented
in Table 6.

64
Table 6
Criminal History of Sample Groups
Group Ia Group 2a Group 3a
Variable
Mean
SD
Mean
SD
Mean
SD
Felony
convictions
1.10
1.200
1.27
1.300
1.20
1.010
Felony
probations
0.80
.876
0.60
0.720
0.68
0.800
Felony
paroles
0.46
0.520
0.50
0.610
0.48
0.511
Prior prison
commitments
0.91
0.961
0.84
0.911
0.84
0.820
Misdemeanor
convictions
4.26
2.320
4.19
2.670
4.20
2.810
Misdemeanor
probations
1.20
1.060
2.17
2.230
2.30
2.810
an=439 for each group.
Felony convictions. The mean number of prior felony convictions
for all groups was low. Group 1 had the lowest mean (1.1).
Differences between groups were not significant at the .05 level.
Felony probations. The mean rate of prior felony sentences to
probation was low for all groups ranging from .68 (Group 3) to .80
(Group 1). Probation sentences for felony offenses is recorded only
for cases in the State of Florida. Differences between groups were
not significant at the .05 level.
O

65
Felony paroles. Parole is the conditional release from prison
after completion of a portion of the original sentence. The low
mean rates of prior parole tend to result from the low mean rate
for prior felony convictions. Both groups of nonretarded inmates
had slightly higher rates for prior paroles. Differences between
groups, however, were not significant.
Prior prison commitments. The Department of Corrections records
prior prison commitments for sentences served in Florida prisons only.
The mean rate for both groups of nonretarded inmates was the same
(0.8) but did not differ significantly from the rate for the mentally
retarded group (1.01).
Misdemeanor convictions. Misdemeanor offenses may range from
minor traffic violations to more serious crimes of theft and assault.
The Florida Department of Corrections does not differentiate between
severity of misdemeanors. The number of prior misdemeanor offenses
for Group 1 was slightly higher (4.2) than Group 2 (4.1) or Group 3
(4.2). No significant differences were found between groups.
Misdemeanor probations. The mean number of prior misdemeanor
probation sentences was somewhat higher for the mentally retarded
inmates. Significant differences were found between groups at the .05
level. Group 1 was found to differ from Group 2 and Group 3 when
pairwise comparisons were tested. There were no differences between
Group 2 and Group 3.
Analysis of Adaptive Behavior
Adaptive behavior deficits of mentally retarded prison inmates
in the Florida Department of Corrections was investigated in this

66
study. The Florida Department of Corrections maintains that adaptive
behavior deficits of the retarded prisoner are best addressed by
treating them in the same manner prescribed for normal inmates.
If programming based on this practice works to compensate for
adaptive behavior deficits, no differences would be expected between
behavior of mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates.
Two tasks were proposed to investigate this problem. The purpose
of task 1 was to identify the manner and frequency that adaptive
behavior was provided for in the Florida Department of Corrections
rehabilitation plans for mentally retarded inmates. The purpose of
task 2 was to see if differences existed in adaptation to prison
regime between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates as measured
by disciplinary reports in prison.
Results of Task 1
Task 1 addressed the frequency and manner with which adaptive
behavior of mentally retarded inmates was accounted for by the Florida
Department of Corrections. Common areas observable and feasible in a
prison setting were matched from major cluster behaviors of the
Vineland Social Maturity Scale and the American Association on Mental
Deficiency Adaptive Behavior Scale to form a checklist for use in this
task. The cluster areas were subjectively drawn from each instrument
and grouped into physical appearance and hygiene, communication and
socialization skills, vocational skills, independent functioning, and
aggression. Cluster areas from each test used to form the checklist
used in task 1 are presented in Table 7.

67
Table 7
Adaptive Behavior Cluster Skills
Common behavior area
for use in task 1 review
Vineland behavior
cluster
.AAMD behavior
domain
Physical appearance and
hygiene
Self-help dressing
Responsibility
Independent functioning
Communication and
socialization skills
Communication
Socialization
Self-direction
Language development
Vocational skills
Occupation
Vocational activity
Independent functioning
Self-help eating
Self-direction
Self-help dressing
Independent functioning
Responsibility
Aggression
Violent and destructive
behavior
The sample size of Group 1 (mentally retarded inmates) was 439.
A random sample of 44, or 10%, from Group 1 was selected. The
rehabilitation plans of this sample were reviewed and analyzed to
determine which, if any, provisions for adaptive behavior were made
to account for adaptive behavior areas common to the AAMD and Vineland
scales. Specific programs used to compensate for adaptive behavior
deficits were noted in cases where adaptive behavior was addressed in
the rehabilitation plan. The results of task 1 are presented in
Table 8.

68
Table 8
Results of Task 1
Area of adaptive
behavior deficit
Frequency noted in
rehabilitation plans
Number
referred
Program referral
and adaptation
Physical appearance
and hygiene
31 (72%)
31
Counseling
Communication and
socialization skills
11 (25%)
8
Counseling
Vocational skills
18 (42%)
0
No referral-skill
level noted only
Independent
functioning
9 (21%)
9
Counseling
Aggression
7 (16%)
3
Counseling
Physical appearance and hygiene. Skill
deficits
involving physical
appearance and personal hygiene were noted in 31 cases (72%). Referral
for counseling within the prison was the only adaptation used in these
plans.
Communication and socialization skills. Deficits in communication
and socialization skills were noted in 11 (25%) of cases. Lack of
communication or socialization skills were generally seen to mean
that the inmate had difficulty expressing himself or complying with
appropriate instructions from prison staff. Eight cases were
referred for counseling based on a perceived lack of communication
and socialization skills.

69
Vocational skills. Deficits in vocational skills were noted
relative to job complexity, ability to perform various types of
work, or the type of vocational preference noted. Vocational
deficits were accounted for in 18 of cases (42%).
Independent functioning. Independent functioning was accounted
for by the inmates ability to initiate activities rather than displaying
an overdependence on others for direction. An inability to function
independently was noted in 9 cases (21%). No special consideration
was made to account for lack of ability to function independently.
Aggression. Aggressive behavior was mentioned in 7 rehabilitation
plans (16%). Referral was made to prison counseling in 3 of the cases
noting aggressive behavior.
Results of Task 2
The purpose of task 2 was to see if differences existed in
adaptation to prison regime between mentally retarded and nonretarded
inmates as measured by disciplinary reports in prison. Inferential
statistics were used to analyze the data for disciplinary reports
in seven categories, the dependent variables. One-way analysis of
variance was used to test the significance of each null hypothesis.
Tukey's test was used to determine significance between pairs for
each group. Results of task 2 are presented in Table 9.
Disobeying orders. The mean number of disciplinary reports
received per year for Group 1 inmates was 8.40. Group 2 inmates
received an average of 7.90 and Group 3 received 7.86. The F-ratio
was 2.62. There were no significant differences between groups for
this category. Null hypothesis 1 was accepted.

Table 9
Mean Number of Disciplinary Reports
Disciplinary Category
Group
Mean
Ia
SD
Group
Mean
2a
SD
Group
Mean
3a
SD
Summary
Anova
Statistics
Disobeying orders
8.400
4.028
7.910
3.830
7.860
3.720
F(2,1314)=2.620
Attempted escape
0.270
0.560
0.333
0.720
0.328
0.740
F(2,1314)=1.714
Assaulting a correctional
officer
0.426
0.810
0.508
0.886
0.558
0.904
F (2,1314)=2.578
Assaulting an inmate
1.190
1.037
1.353
1.145
1.342
1.102
F (2,1314)=2.507
Possession of narcotics
0.426
0.818
1.238b
1.037
1.2 61b
1.105
F(2,1314)=96.362
Possession of alcohol
0.381
0.830
1.048b
1.072
1.039b
1.074
F(2,1314)=61.902
Failure to maintain
personal hygiene
2.190
2.361
0.905b
0.958
0.884b
0.951
F (2,1314)=99.62*
an=439 in each group
bmeans that share a common superscript are not significantly different.
*significant at .05 level.
o

71
Attempted escape. Group 1 inmates attempted escape at a lower
rate (0.273) than Group 2 (0.333) or Group 3 (0.328). Attempted
escape is a low incidence infraction which accounts for a small
percentage of all disciplinary problems in prison. The between group
differences for this category of disciplinary report were not
significant at the .05 level. Null hypothesis 2 was accepted.
Assaulting a correctional officer. The average rate for Group 1
inmates (0.4) was less than Group 2 (0.508) or Group 3 (0.558) in this
category. Differences between group means for assaulting a
correctional officer, however, were not significant at the .05 level.
Null hypothesis 3 was accepted.
Assaulting an inmate. The mean number of disciplinary reports
received by Group 1 (1.190) was slightly less than the number
received by group 2 (1.353) or Group 3 (1.342) for assaulting an
inmate. The differences were not significant between groups for
this offense. Null hypothesis 4 was accepted.
Possession of narcotics. Group 1 inmates (0.476) received
disciplinary reports at a much lower rate for possession of narcotics
than Group 2 (1.238) or Group 3 (1.231) inmates. The calculated
F-value was significant at the .05 level. Pairwise comparisons
indicated that the difference between Group 1 and Group 2 was
significant as well as the difference between Group 1 and Group 3.
Null hypothesis 5, therefore, was rejected.
Possession of alcohol. Inmates in Group 1 (0.381) also received
disciplinary reports for possession of alcohol at a much lower rate
than inmates in Group 2 (1.048) and Group 3 (1.039). Differences

72
between groups were significant at the .05 level. Null hypothesis 6,
therefore, was rejected. Significant differences were found between
Group 1 and Group 2 as well as Group 1 and Group 3.
Failure to maintain personal hygiene. Mentally retarded inmates
were cited for failure to maintain personal hygiene at a much higher
rate than nonretarded inmates in Group 2 or Group 3. The null hypothesis
was rejected at the .05 level. Group 1 was significantly different
from Group 2 (0.905) and Group 3 (0.884) in pairwise comparisons for
this variable.
Summary
Adaptive behavior of mentally retarded prison inmates was analyzed
in two tasks. Task 1 investigated the manner and frequency that the
Florida Department of Corrections recognized and programmed for adaptive
behavior deficits of mentally retarded inmates. A review of records was
made to determine accommodations and specialized programs to account
for deficits. The method used to program for adaptive behavior
deficits was referral to counseling within the prison. Vocational
deficits were not addressed with remediative programs. Deficits in
vocational areas were handled by assignment to lower skilled jobs within
the prison.
Differences in adaptive behavior between mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates were measured by disciplinary reports received in
seven categories. Mentally retarded inmates received significantly more
disciplinary reports for failure to maintain personal hygiene than did
nonretarded inmates. The inmates in the mentally retarded group received
significantly fewer numbers of disciplinary reports for possession of
narcotics and possession of alcohol than nonretarded inmates.

CHAPTER V
DISCUSSION AND IMPLICATIONS
The fifth chapter begins with a summary review of the study.
Discussion and implications are presented along with the significance
of the study and suggestions for further research.
Review of the Study
The Problem
Florida's prison system does not provide specialized treatment
for mentally retarded inmates. It is the practice of the Florida
Department of Corrections that deficits in adaptive behavior caused
by mental retardation are best addressed by treating mentally
retarded inmates in the same manner as inmates with normal
intelligence. The Florida Department of Corrections monitors inmate
behavior through a record of disciplinary infractions compiled
during incarceration. Disciplinary infractions provide a measure of
adaptive behavior in areas such as aggression, compliance with
authority, narcotics and alcohol abuse, and adherence to prison
rules.
If this approach is effective in compensating for adaptive
behavior deficits of mentally retarded prisoners, there should be
no group differences in the behavior of retarded and nonretarded
73

74
inmates. Therefore, the problem under investigation in this study
was, "does the Florida Department of Corrections prison program
compensate for postulated adaptive behavior differences between
mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates?"
Summary of Method
Two tasks were proposed to investigate this problem. The purpose
of task 1 was to identify the manner and frequency that adaptive
behavior was provided for in rehabilitation plans of mentally
retarded inmates. The purpose of task 2 was to see if differences
existed in adaptation to prison regime between mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates.
A random sample from Group 1 (mentally retarded inmates) was
selected to complete task 1. The rehabilitation plans of this sample
were reviewed and analyzed to determine which, if any, provisions
for adaptive behavior were made to account for adaptive behavior
areas common to the AAMD and Vineland scales. In cases where
adaptive behavior was addressed in the rehabilitation plan, specific
programs used to compensate for adaptive behavior deficits were noted.
Group means for the number of disciplinary reports received by
mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates in seven categories were
calculated and compared to complete task 2. One-way analysis of
variance was used to determine significance among groups. Tukey's
test was used to determine pairwise significance between groups.
Problems and Limitations
There were several problems and limitations that were encountered
in this study which should be considered when interpreting these

75
data. First, the record of disciplinary infractions compiled for
each inmate is a subjective measure peculiar to the judgment of
individual correctional officers. The lower number received by
mentally retarded inmates for disobeying orders may represent a
subjective adjustment by correctional officers for the low ability
of mentally retarded inmates to comply with prison rules. In fact,
the lower rate may represent lowered expectations on the part of
officers assigned to enforce prison rules.
Another problem relates to the measure of inmate behavior.
The issuance of disciplinary infractions does nothing to measure the
behavior of nonretarded inmates toward the mentally retarded inmate.
Several authors have suggested that problems of overcrowding, criminal
behavior, and sexual abuse are compounded by the presence of the
mentally retarded inmate. Brown and Courtless (1971) reported that
departments of corrections often faced severe staffing problems and
were not able to provide the individual protection required by the
mentally retarded inmate. MacEachron (1978) noted that mentally
retarded inmates were often out of step with the dominant characteristics
of the average prisoner. The mentally retarded prisoner, therefore,
was victimized by more sophisticated inmates and was often the
object of physical and sexual aggression. These situations were not
measured in this study.
Discussion and Implications
It is widely noted that differential treatment based on adaptive
behavior deficits is important to success for the mentally retarded

76
in academics, employment, and career education (Cegelka § Prehm,
1982; Chinn et al., 1979; Haring, 1979). The notion that
differential treatment of mentally retarded prison inmates effects
their adjustment to prison and subsequent rehabilitation is also
widely noted (Reichard et al., 1982; Santamour § West, 1982). It
is not, however, well documented.
Descriptive Statistics of Sample Groups
The belief that mentally retarded offenders require differential
treatment has been based largely on assumptions about adaptive
behavior. These assumptions have often resulted from theories that
demographic, education, and criminal characteristics of mentally
retarded and nonretarded prisoners were different. The results of
this study are mixed regarding differences between mentally retarded
and nonretarded inmates.
Demographic characteristics. Similar conclusions about
characteristics of mentally retarded offenders have been reported
in several studies. However, demographic data for mentally retarded
and nonretarded prisoners were not compared in previous studies
(Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins § Friel, 1973; Manne 5 Rosenthal, 1971; South Carolina
Department of Corrections, 1980). Typical mentally retarded offenders
were reported to be in their late 20s to early 30s, nonwhite, male,
left school between sixth and ninth grade, achieved a second to third
grade equivalency, held low-skilled employment, and lived below the
poverty level.

77
Demographic characteristics identified in the current research
are similar to those reported in previous studies. The typical
mentally retarded prisoner incarcerated in the Florida Department
of Corrections was 28 years old and not married at the time of
arrest. Racial composition was mixed. The large number of nonwhite
inmates reported in several previous studies was not evident.
Proportions of white and nonwhite inmates in this study were
approximately the same. Characteristics of age, race, and marital
status for nonretarded inmates in this study were similar to the
mentally retarded sample and did not differ significantly for any
group. A comparison of demographic characteristics reported in the
literature and results of this study are presented in Table 10.
Characteristics regarding employment for mentally retarded
inmates appear similar to those reported in other studies. Employment
status was recorded by the Florida Department of Corrections as
full-time, part-time, or unemployed. Data for employment suggested
that the mentally retarded group was unemployed at a higher rate than
either nonretarded group. The mentally retarded inmates were also
employed full or part-time at a lower rate than the nonretarded groups.
These differences were significant at the .05 level.
The incidence of prison inmates with no vocational skills has
been estimated to be five times the national average with 90% earning
less than $5,000 per year (United States Department of Justice, 1980).
Vocational programming and training are an integral part of most
prison systems. Vocational training is used as part of inmate

78
Table 10
Demographic Characteristics Reported for the Mentally
Retarded Offender
Conclusion Reported in the Literature Conclusion in This Study
Age of typical mentally retarded
inmate is 26 to 34 years.
(Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins & Friel, 1973;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1975; MacEachron,
1978; South Carolina Department
of Corrections, 1980)
Typical inmate is nonwhite.
(Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins § Friel, 1973;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1975; MacEachron,
1978; South Carolina Department
of Corrections, 1980)
Typical mentally retarded inmate is
male.
(Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins § Friel, 1973;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1975; MacEachron,
1978; South Carolina Department
of Corrections, 1980)
Low rates of employment prior to
incarceration.
(Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins § Friel, 1973;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1975; MacEachron,
1978; South Carolina Department
of Corrections, 1980)
Age of typical mentally
retarded inmate is 28 years.
Number of white and nonwhite
inmates is approximately the
same. No significant
difference between groups.
Typical mentally retarded
inmate is male.
Mentally retarded inmates
were employed full and
part-time at lower rate
than nonretarded.
Differences were
statistically significant.

79
rehabilitation and provides for a more orderly existence within
prisons. The low employment rates for mentally retarded inmates
across several studies suggest a need for specialized training
within the institutions to compensate for low employment.
Data for alcohol and narcotic use by the mentally retarded
offender have not appeared in the literature. The Florida
Department of Corrections records self-reported alcohol and
narcotic use prior to incarceration for each inmate. Prior use
of alcohol and narcotics is noted as heavy, light, or none. These
data are suspect in that they are self-reported and, therefore, may
vary widely. They are also not specific as to types of narcotics
or alcohol used nor are they corroborated by any outside source.
Educational characteristics. Low educational attainment for
mentally retarded offenders was noted in several works reviewed for
this study. The mean IQ for mentally retarded inmates in the Florida
Department of Corrections was 61.3 as opposed to 92.7 for nonretarded
inmates. Educational attainment prior to incarceration was
significantly different between mentally retarded and nonretarded
groups. The mean attainment for mentally retarded inmates was 6.0
years as opposed to 9.1 years for nonretarded prisoners. The results
of grade-level and reading literacy testing displayed similar
differences between mentally retarded and nonretarded groups.
While these differences were to be expected based on the presence
of mental retardation, implications for treatment within the prison
system are obvious. Several investigators have demonstrated the

80
efficacy of differential treatment in academic programming for the
mentally retarded (Cegelka & Prehm, 1982; Chinn et al., 1979;
Haring, 1979). None of the studies reviewed indicated any attempts
were made to provide systematic academic programming based on
techniques used to educate the mentally retarded in public school
systems. The Florida Department of Corrections does not provide
special academic programming designed to account for deficits
caused by mental retardation. Similarities and differences between
results reported in the literature and this study are presented in
Table 11.
Criminal history. Current findings about criminality of the
mentally retarded offender are mixed although there appears to be
less reluctance to associate retardation with criminality than was
the case in the 1940s and 1950s. Reichard et al. (1982) noted that
a growing awareness of disproportionate numbers of mentally retarded
offenders involved with the criminal justice system may represent
an administrative function of the system rather than evidence for
a causal relationship between mental retardation and criminal
behavior. It was often reported that types of crimes committed by
the mentally retarded were different from those of the nonretarded
criminal. Several authors noted that mentally retarded offenders
committed crimes against persons more frequently than against
property (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens, 1975; Brown
fj Courtless, 1968; Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, 1975).
Prior criminal rate for mentally retarded offenders was not reported

81
Table 11
Educational Characteristics Reported for the Mentally
Retarded Offender
Conclusion Reported in the Literature Conclusion in This Study
Low educational attainment
(Atlanta Association for Retarded
Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1970; Haskins § Friel, 1973;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1976; MacEachron, 1976;
South Carolina Department of
Corrections, 1980)
IQ scores
No study reviewed mean IQ for
nonretarded or mentally retarded
inmates.
Tested grade levels and/or reading
ability
No study included data for
tested grade level or reading
ability.
Average educational attainment
for mentally retarded inmate
was 6.0 years. Difference
between nonretarded groups
and mentally retarded group
was statistically significant.
Mean IQ score for mentally
retarded inmates was 61.3
Mean IQ score for nonretarded
inmates was 92.7. Differences
were statistically significant.
Grade level testing and reading
literacy levels were
significantly different
between mentally retarded and
nonretarded groups.

82
in any studies despite the fact that this was often a critical
issue in consideration for parole (Talarico, 1982).
Differences in criminal behavior for mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates in the present study were not significant.
Prior prison commitments and prior probation sentences were also not
significantly different. These results suggest that the criminal
history for mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates may not differ
as reported in other studies. These results also tend to contradict
the notion that mentally retarded offenders are more disposed toward
criminal behavior than nonretarded prisoners. Conclusions from the
literature and results of this study about criminal history are
presented in Table 12.
Results of Task 1
Various authors have recommended differential treatment of the
mentally retarded offender (Brown § Courtless, 1971; Haskins § Friel,
1973; Santamour § West, 1982). It was often suggested that
differential treatment of the mentally retarded inmate, as in education,
should be based on adaptive behavior deficits unique to the mentally
retarded. Most prison systems in the United States, however, do not
attempt to identify these differences or address them in programming
for inmates (Santamour § West, 1982). This practice is based on the
belief that integration with nonretarded inmates helps in adjustment
to prison routine and, ultimately, rehabilitation. The purpose of
task 1, therefore, was to determine which, if any, adaptive behavior
deficits of mentally retarded inmates were identified by prison

83
Table 12
Criminal History Reported for the Mentally Retarded Offender
Conclusion Reported in the Literature Conclusion in This Study
Mentally retarded inmates committed
most often for crimes against
property.
(Brown § Courtless, 1968;
Kentucky Legislative Research
Commission, 1975; Reichard,
Spencer, § Spooner, 1982)
Mentally retarded inmates committed
most often for crimes against
people.
(Atlanta Association for
Retarded Citizens, 1975; Brown
§ Courtless, 1971)
Extent and type of prior criminal
record not indicated in any other
study.
Typical mentally retarded
inmate committed for crime
of burglary.
Prior criminal histories for
retarded and nonretarded
inmates did not differ
significantly. Prior number
of prison commitments and
probation sentences did not
differ.

84
officials as requiring specific intervention. Specific program
assignments used to compensate for postulated adaptive behavior
deficits were noted in cases where they had been identified.
Deficits of adaptive behavior were seldom noted in rehabilitation
plans of the mentally retarded inmates. Referral for specialized
treatment to account for identified deficits was often not present.
In cases where some attempts were made to account for adaptive
behavior deficits, referral was often general and not apparently
designed to actually address the deficit area. No special treatment
was indicated but rather provisions were made for programs available
to any inmate within the prison system. The notion that each inmate
requires individualized programming appears based on the belief that
differential treatment is effective in rehabilitation of any inmate
rather than those selected only by low intelligence.
Physical appearance and hygiene. The rehabilitation plans of 31
(72%) mentally retarded inmates contained references to poor physical
appearance or hygiene. This problem was compensated for with
referral to counseling services in the prison in all instances. The
type or frequency of counseling was not noted. No discernable attempt
was made to provide for specialized instruction in this area and it
must be assumed that each case was handled on an individual or
informal basis by prison staff.
Two factors should be considered regarding this category. First,
the level of referrals in this category for nonretarded inmates is
not known. Therefore, it was impossible to determine if referral

85
rates were different from that for nonretarded inmates. Second,
it is possible that aspects of physical appearance and personal
hygiene were not perceived as deficient until after a period of
incarceration had been served. It is reasonable to conclude that
the mentally retarded inmates did, in fact, have deficits in this
area since their rate for disciplinary reports in this area were
almost twice that of the nonretarded sample.
Communication and socialization skills. Poor communication or
socialization skills were noted in the rehabilitation plans of 11
inmates from the mentally retarded group. Eight inmates were
referred to counseling by prison staff. No special programs were
used to aid in remediation of communication or socialization deficits.
The level of deficit was not noted but was apparently a subjective
judgment made by the classification officer.
Independent functioning. Independent functioning was accounted
for by the inmate's ability to initiate activities rather than
displaying an overdependence on others for directions. Deficits
in the ability to function independently were noted in only nine
(21%) cases. No special consideration was noted in any of the cases.
Deficits in the ability to function independently may not be a
serious limitation in the prison environment. The need to follow
orders and comply with rules in such structure takes practical
importance over the ability to function in an independent manner. The
ability to follow prison rules, however, might require some degree of
independence while not under the direct supervision of correctional

86
officers. The possibility exists, therefore, that independent
functioning may not be a skill of practical importance to prison
administrators.
Aggression. Aggressive behavior of mentally retarded inmates
was not mentioned in literature reviewed for this study. Mentally
retarded inmates are thought to be victims (rather than aggressors)
in the prison subculture. Aggressive behavior was noted in only
seven rehabilitation plans. Type of aggressive behavior was not
noted nor were any special provisions made other than referral for
counseling. It was not clear whether judgments about aggressive
behavior were based on criminal history, commitment offense, or
behavior while incarcerated. Increased security classification was
not used to address aggressive behavior in these cases, no apparent
restrictions were placed on these inmates, nor were any attempts made
to provide a higher measure of supervision by the institution.
Task 2
The literature regarding the mentally retarded offender is repleat
with studies that suggest the mentally retarded offender is at a
distinct disadvantage in prison due to adaptive behavior deficits
(Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens, 1975; Brown § Courtless,
1971; Haskins & Friel, 1973; Menolascino, 1974). However, these
deficits have been largely postulated based on adaptive behavior
deficits of the mentally retarded observed in educational and vocational
settings.

87
The purpose of task 2 was to determine if differences existed
in adaptation to prison regime between mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates. This was measured by comparing the mean
number of disciplinary infractions received across seven categories
for each group. Results of hypothesis testing across four of the
seven comparisons were not significant at the .05 level. The
finding of no difference in four categories appears to contradict
conclusions of theories proposed in some studies reviewed for this
work.
Assault. Conclusions about criminal characteristics reported
in the literature are mixed as to whether mentally retarded offenders
commit violent crimes (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens,
1970; Brown § Courtless, 1968, 1971; Reichard et al., 1982). Results
of this study, however, suggested that mentally retarded inmates were
incarcerated for crimes against property rather than for violent
offenses against people.
Literature reviewed for this study did not indicate that mentally
retarded inmates were aggressive in prison settings (MacEachron,
1978; Santamour 8 West, 1982; South Carolina Department of Corrections,
1980). The results of task 1 also suggested that prison administrators
did not observe or program for aggressive behavior of mentally retarded
inmates.
Several authors noted that mentally retarded inmates are victims
of aggression rather than aggressors (Brown § Courtless, 1971;
Menolascino, 1974; Reichard et al., 1982; Santamour 8 West, 1978).

88
The findings of this study tend to agree with those found in the
literature that the mentally retarded inmate does not display
aggressive behavior in the prison. Differences were not significant
between mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates for assault of a
correctional officer or other inmates.
Disobeying orders. Several authors have noted that mentally retarded
offenders display an inability to adjust to prison regime and comply
with rules or orders (MacEachron, 1974; Menolascino, 1974; Reichard
et al., 1982; South Carolina Department of Corrections, 1980). The
notion that adjustment to prison is different for mentally retarded
offenders has presupposed that the cause is poor adaptive behavior.
The results of this study suggest this may not be the case.
Mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates received disciplinary
reports for disobeying orders at similar rates. It would be reasonable
to assume that mentally retarded inmates would receive more infractions
for disobedience if there was difficulty complying with prison rules
and authority. The lack of difference suggests that mentally retarded
inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections prisons do not display
adaptive behavior deficits in this area.
Escape attempts. Attempted escape is a low incidence infraction
that accounts for a small percentage of all disciplinary problems in
prison. Escape attempts, however, are often viewed as a measure of
adjustment to prison (Talarico, 1984). Several authors have suggested
that mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates attempt escape at
similar rates (Haskins § Friel, 1973; Kentucky Legislative Research
3

89
Commission, 1975). Similar rates for attempted escape have been used
to suggest that mentally retarded inmates have difficulty adapting
to prison (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens, 1975;
Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, 1975).
Mentally retarded inmates in this study attempted escape at a
slightly lower rate than nonretarded inmates. The between group
differences for this category of disciplinary report were not
significant. Use of attempted escape rates to indicate adjustment
to prison is problematic in this study. The rates are so low as to
lose practical value. They do indicate, however, that mentally retarded
and nonretarded inmates attempt escape at similar rates. Adjustment
to prison based on attempted escape, therefore, appears to be similar
for both groups.
Possession of alcohol and narcotics. The mean number of
disciplinary reports for these offenses was significantly lower for
mentally retarded inmates than for nonretarded inmates. It would
appear the level of alcohol and narcotic use admitted prior to
incarceration did not remain constant since the number reported for
mentally retarded inmates is substantially lower than for nonretarded
inmates. It is not clear, however, that differences between mentally
retarded and nonretarded inmates for these offenses can be linked to
alcohol and narcotic use prior to incarceration.
It is doubtful that the lower number reported for mentally
retarded inmates reflects a better ability at concealing controlled
substances than for nonretarded inmates. The lower rate of infractions

90
suggests a lower rate of use in prison for mentally retarded inmates.
The lower rate may, in fact, represent a lower ability to use
maladaptive behavior for mentally retarded inmates.
Failure to maintain personal hygiene. The mentally retarded
prisoner has been depicted as being out of step with prison standards
for hygiene and appearance in many studies (Brown £ Courtless, 1971;
Haskins 5 Friel, 1973; MacEachron, 1978; Santamour 8 West, 1978).
Literature in education also addresses programming to identify and
remediate deficits in personal hygiene and appearance for the mentally
retarded (Chinn et al., 1979; Haring, 1980).
Mentally retarded inmates in this study were cited for failure
to maintain personal hygiene approximately twice as often as nonretarded
inmates. Inmates may be cited for this offense for a variety of
reasons. Failure to shower, make their bed, or properly maintain
personal property may all result in this infraction. The higher rate
reported for mentally retarded inmates may, in fact, represent an
inability to follow rules necessary for adequate independent
functioning in the prison structure. The differences reported in
this category represent a clear indication that adaptive behavior
deficits in physical appearance and hygiene are not being compensated
for by the practice of the Florida Department of Corrections.
Significant of the Study
Significance of this study included items of a theoretical and
practical nature. These items include the following:
1. Correctional practice in the United States continues to
emphasize the desirability of rehabilitative treatment of criminal

91
behavior despite controversy over the efficacy of rehabilitation
philosophy. The dominant theme in corrections has been to address
causes of criminal behavior since the 1860s. For mentally retarded
offenders, assumptions have been made that characteristics of mental
retardation influenced criminal behavior. Research in this area,
however, has been largely speculative. Speculation has centered
on assumptions that deficits in adaptive behavior caused by mental
retardation resulted in poor adjustment and rehabilitation while in
prison. Studies that quantified adaptive behavior deficits of mentally
retarded inmates have not appeared in the literature.
2. Mentally retarded inmates in Florida are not systematically
segregated for special treatment. They are expected to comply with
the same rules and regulations as all other inmates in the department.
The Florida Department of Corrections believes this practice has a
normalizing effect for mentally retarded prisoners and considers it
to be an advantage in their treatment. This is not an atypical
situation in prison systems in the United States (Reichard et al.,
1982; Santamour § West, 1982; Smith, Reichard, § Nunnery, in press).
The results of this investigation support the efficacy of the practice
of Florida's Department of Corrections.
3. Several authors have suggested that this approach did not
meet the needs of mentally retarded inmates (Reichard et al., 1982;
Santamour § West, 1982; South Carolina Department of Corrections, 1980).
It was often noted that mentally retarded inmates had great difficulty
complying with prison rules and adjusting to prison regime due to

92
adaptive behavior deficits. The presence of adaptive behavior
deficits are a component of mental retardation (Grossman, 1979).
The results of this study offer little evidence to suggest that
mentally retarded inmates of the Florida Department of Corrections
display adaptive behavior deficits.
4. The results of task 1 indicated that deficits of adaptive
behavior common to the AAMD and Vineland rating scales were not often
noted in rehabilitation plans of mentally retarded inmates.
Specialized treatment was not apparent when adaptive behavior deficits
were noted.
5. Four of seven comparisons for inmate behavior between mentally
retarded and nonretarded groups were not significant. Of the remaining
three, only personal hygiene deficits were considered relevant to poor
prison adaptation. The results of task 2, therefore, suggest that
differences in adaptive behavior were not indicated when measures of
inmate behavior were compared between mentally retarded and nonretarded
groups.
6. The results of this study supply some evidence to suggest
that mentally retarded inmates may successfully adapt to prison
regime in the Florida Department of Corrections. Common indicators
of adequate adaptation to incaraceration are escape attempts and
compliance with authority (Kentucky Legislative Research Commission,
1975; Santamour § West, 1977; Talarico, 1982). No significant
differences were found between mentally retarded and nonretarded
inmates in this study for disobeying orders and attempted escape.

93
Furthermore, rates for aggressive offenses and possession of alcohol
and narcotics were lower for mentally retarded inmates. These rates
may be evidence to suggest that mentally retarded inmates adapt to
prison more successfully than their nonretarded counterparts.
7. Fiscal and social accountability are important to those
concerned with administration of corrections as society allocates an
increasing amount of financial resources to the criminal justice
system. Differential handling of the mentally retarded offender
has been frequently suggested to effectively rehabilitate criminal
behavior (MacEachron, 1978; Reichard et al., 1982; Santamour § West,
1982). The idea of providing differential treatment, however, suggests
the need for increased finances to establish and maintain special
programs for mentally retarded inmates. The results of this study
indicate that these programs may not be required for mentally retarded
inmates to adequately adjust to prison. The practice of the Florida
Department of Corrections appears to adequately address the needs of
mentally retarded inmates in most respects.
Suggestions for Further Research
Results of this study suggested that mentally retarded and
nonretarded prison inmates in the Florida Department of Corrections
adjust to prison regime in a similar manner. It is suggested, however,
that further study be done.
Several authors have proposed differential treatment for
rehabilitation of the mentally retarded offender (Atlanta Association
for Retarded Citizens, 1975; MacEachron, 1978; Santamour 8 West, 1982).

94
These theories were often based on the notion that characteristics
of mentally retarded and nonretarded offenders were different.
Similar demographic characteristics for mentally retarded offenders
have been reported in several studies (Brown § Courtless, 1970;
Haskins § Friel, 1973; Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens,
1975; South Carolina Department of Corrections, 1980). The
conclusions of this study approximate these previously reported
findings. However, studies that compared demographic characteristics
of the mentally retarded and nonretarded offender have not appeared
in the literature. The conclusions of the current study suggest
characteristics of these groups do not differ as widely as other
investigators have postulated. Further research about differences
between these groups is needed if differential treatment is to be
based on characteristics unique to the mentally retarded inmate.
Conclusions reported in the literature about the criminal history
of mentally retarded offenders were mixed. It was not clear if mentally
retarded offenders were imprisoned more frequently for crimes against
property or people (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens, 1975;
Brown § Courtless, 1970; Kentucky Legislative Research Commission, 1975).
It has been theorized that mentally retarded offenders are
disproportionately incarcerated to prevent further criminal activity
rather than protect society (Menolascino, 1974; Reichard et al., 1982).
Studies about the extent and type of prior criminal record for mentally
retarded offenders, however, have not been reported. The results of
this study indicated that prior criminal history for both groups did

95
not significantly differ. Further research to determine the extent
and type of prior criminal behavior would be helpful since
correctional treatment and incarceration are often based on criminal
history.
The results of this study indicated that behavior in prison
was similar across certain measures for mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates. These measures, however, do not address whether
mentally retarded and nonretarded inmates matriculate toward parole
release at different rates. Therefore, the effects of mental
retardation on subsequent parole release could be studied.
It is widely noted that the mentally retarded offender is
victimized, disliked, misunderstood, or ignored by prison personnel
and nonretarded inmates (Atlanta Association for Retarded Citizens,
1975; Menolascino, 1974; Reichard et al., 1982; South Carolina Department
of Corrections, 1980). In future research about the effects of mental
retardation on prison adjustment, it is recommended that attitudes of
correctional officers and prison administrators toward mentally
retarded inmates be studied. This would allow some measure as to the
latitude used in enforcing rules between mentally retarded and
nonretarded inmates. Similarly, the level of violence shown toward
mentally retarded inmates by nonretarded inmates and correctional
officers should be studied.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Craig Douglas Smith was born on July 15, 1948, in Oak Park,
Illinois. His family moved several times during his childhood,
eventually settling in Elmhurst, Illinois. Craig graduated from
York Community High School in Elmhurst, Illinois, in 1965. Craig
attended Elmhurst College in Elmhurst, Illinois, and received the
Bachelor of Arts degree in history in 1973 following periods of
full-time employment and service in the United States Marine Corps.
After graduation, Craig worked in corrections as an adult
probation and parole officer in Illinois and Florida. In 1978
Craig began studies at the University of Florida in special education.
He received the Master of Education degree in 1980 with emphasis in
education of the emotionally disturbed and learning disabled. From
1980 until 1983 Craig was employed by the Escambia County School
System in Pensacola, Florida. He worked as a teacher of emotionally
disturbed children at the J. Lee Pickens Center and as coordinator
for middle school special education programs.
Craig returned to the University of Florida in 1983 to pursue
doctoral studies in special education. His major areas were education
102

of the emotionally disturbed and educational research. Craig
currently is assistant professor of special education at Georgia
College in Milledgeville, Georgia. He is married to Maribeth
Smith and has two children, Craig and Robert.

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards.of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Assistant Professor of Special
Education

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Professor of Special Education
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the
College of Education and to the Graduate School and was accepted
as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
August, 1986
Dean, Graduate School




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I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Professor of Special Education
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the
College of Education and to the Graduate School and was accepted
as partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy.
August, 1986
Dean, Graduate School