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Models!

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The specification says ‘explanations’, which means you’ll need to know at least two explanations. 1. The importation model – this explains aggression in prisons. In brief, it says aggression occurs because of characteristics that prisoners bring inside with them. Cheeseman (2003) said that men in prison have a certain way of behaving (probably why they went to prison in the first place!) and they then apply that behaviour to their new institutional setting. Toch (1997) says this: all prisons inherit their subcultural sediments from the street corners that supply them with clients. This suggests that young people can be aggressive both on the street and in prison.

Personal and psychological factors that existed in inmates before being incarcerated can affect the level of aggressive behaviour shown in prison. Mills, Kroner and Weekes (1998) studied prisoners admitted to a Canadian prison using the alcohol dependence scale (ADS). Inmates who had higher levels of dependence were associated with more aggression shown in prison.

Also, inmates who had greater periods of unemployment, lower levels of education, and a more serious criminal record were more likely to be aggressive in prison (Kane and Janus, 1981).

Demographic variables that seem to influence aggression in prisons are race and age. Studies in America have shown that non-whites and younger prisoners are more likely to be aggressive whilst incarcerated. Kane and Janus (1981) say that this is because these groups are more likely to be separated from the mainstream society’s norms which promote pro-social behaviour, and could live in a subculture where aggression is valued, respected an d reinforced – this may have influenced them to be aggressive in many contexts – their home, their neighbourhood, the prison institution... This is called being ‘disenfranchised’.

* Irwin & Cressey (1962) said there were three categories of prisoner subcultures: * THE CRIMINAL OR THIEF SUBCULTURE: Follow the norms associated with being a thief or criminal. Values such as not betraying each other or being trustworthy amongst other criminals are important. Refer to fellow thieves in prison as primary reference group. * THE CONVICT SUBCULTURE: Have been raised in prison system. Look for positions of power or influence within the system. Primary reference system is fellow convicts. This group are most likely to turn to aggression. Influenced by deprivation prior to being imprisoned and bring values of that subculture inside with them. * THE CONVENTIONAL OR 'STRAIGHT' SUBCULTURE: Tend to be one-time offenders. Weren't part of a criminal subculture before going inside. Rejects both other groups within prison and identify more with prison officers and staff. Tend not to be very aggressive whilst in prison.

2. Situational models – these say that the prison environment plays a part in the aggression shown by prisoners. Situational factors can be: * Organisational – leadership, policies and procedures * Physical – security level, available resources * Staff characteristics – gender, level of experience, relationship to and interactions with prisoners.

The DEPRIVATION MODEL is a situational model. Sykes (1958) did a study which looked at the deprivation that prisoners suffered during their incarceration. Sykes thought that prison subculture originates from within the institution, not outside it. Sykes describes five deprivations that arise from ‘the indignities and degradations suffered by becoming an inmate’.

These deprivations lead prisoners to become stressed, and sometimes they act aggressively towards others to release this stress. Aggression in prisons is seen as a way that prisoners can gain some control over the social order imposed on them in prison.
Other situational models: * The Popcorn model (Folger & Skarlicki, 1995) – the first individual to act aggressively is like the first piece of popcorn that explodes in the saucepan. The best thing to study here is what led the ‘heat’ to be applied in the first place. No corn ‘pops’ without heat. If the prison environment is sorted out, then prisoners will not become aggressive. This model suggests that prisoners who don’t bring the values of aggression into prison with them can become aggressive if enough ‘heat’ is applied.

* The Management model (Dilulio 1987) – this says that aggression in prison occurs as a result of failed management, high staff turnover, and lack of discipline amongst staff.

McCorkle et al. (1995) investigated the relative strength of the deprivation and management models to explain prison aggression. They looked at 371 US State prisons and looked at both individual and collective violence. They found that the deprivation model was less useful in explaining rates of violence, but that there was a stronger link between management style and violence.

Some evaluation points...
IMPORTATION MODEL * The model doesn’t give suggestions for how best to manage aggressive prisoners * DeLisi (2004) looked at records of 831 male inmates sampled from South Western USA to look at the prison violence records of inmates involved in street gangs and prison gangs. There was a small, but significant relationships between gang membership and prison aggression – maybe subcultural values had been imported into prisons by gang members. * Poole and Regoli (1983) looked at juvenile correction facilities and found that inmates who had been violent ‘outside’ were more likely to be violent ‘inside’

SITUATIONAL MODELS * Situational models don’t explain why prison riots can suddenly happen without the environment changing * Findings seem to suggest that there isn’t a link between overcrowding and aggression. Megargee (1976) found that aggressive incidents in prisons were negatively correlated to the amount of living space available for each prisoner. It is suggested that, when a prison is full or overcrowded’, management strategies are put in place to compensate for this – this might mean that inmates have fewer opportunities to interact with each other.

It is possible that both models have something about them, and it could be that violence should be viewed as the product of three interacting sets of variables... 1. The aggressor (personality, needs, concerns, perceptions) 2. The victim (personality, needs, concerns, perceptions) 3. The situation (the human and physical environment in which the incident is taking place)

Racial and ethnic tensions exist in prisons – 50% of US state prison officials reported that racial conflicts were a problem amongst inmates (Knox et al., 1996). Some hold these tensions responsible for creating the racial divides among inmates that have increased inmate assaults ad resulted in full-scale riots in some facilities.

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