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The Indefensible Psychology of Imprisonment

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1 The Indefensible Psychology of Imprisonment
Prof. Shadd Maruna Queen’s University Belfast

2 The rise of “psychological power in prisons” (Crewe, 2009)
A number of leading prison scholars have argued that psychology has “never…been more influential” in the prison than in the past few decades (Thomas-Peter, 2006) “Psychologists have taken over prisons in the last ten years. IN the eighties, you never saw a psychologist. [Now] if a psychologist says you’ve addressed your offending behaviour, and you genuinely appear to be making progress with life and going straight, then that gets you out. If a psychologist says the opposite, that keeps you in” (prisoner quoted in Crewe, 2009, p. 118). The Prisoner Society

3 Psychology & the Prison
“Prisons are places that demean humanity, destroy the nobility of human nature, and bring out the worst in social relations among people. They are as bad for the guards as the prisoners in terms of their destructive impact on self-esteem, sense of justice, and human compassion” (Zimbardo, Maslach & Haney, 2000)

4 Why Do They Mistrust Us? “When I first came [to prison], the psychologist was there if you’d got problems, to talk to. She wasn’t there to write reports, she wasn’t there to judge you, she wasn’t there to…manipulate you, she was there to help you if you needed help. Now that attitude’s not there. … Your interests, your needs are pretty much last on the list. … This is why a lot of psychologists are held in nothing other than suspicion” (prisoner quoted in Crewe, 2009, p. 118).

5 The Risks of Risk Assessment
From Attrill & Liell, 2007: I want to communicate the pure fear that risk assessment has caused in me. The post-sentence report process was the hardest time of my life – it made me suicidal by leaving me in the dark and being so swift and out of my control (p. 194). It’s not fair – I’m prejudged on what I did in the past, not on what I’m doing now (p. 198)

6 A Risk Society “From my experience risk assessment isn’t fair as it’s just pure negatives that people look at, not positives” “They should consider all the work he’s done in prison and his intentions for rebuilding his life and the steps taken towards this – in prison” “I committed a crime that was terrible, that doesn’t make me a terrible person. … Look at people’s achievements. Do not look at knee-jerk reactions to prominent serious offences”

7 Looking for Help, Not Assessment
“Most prisoners had little objection to psychological insight per se. A large proportion expressed concerns about mental health issues and longed for help to deal with deep-rooted personal problems. … Indeed, prisoners were crying out for neutral forms of intervention and explanation. Yet the system left little room for unpartisan judgment. Personal problems…were quickly subsumed into institutional discourse, and transformed from needs to risks in the interests of public protection”(Ben Crewe, p. 120).

8 Evidence Based Practice
Random Control Trials Meta-Analyses and Systematic Reviews Finding programmes or interventions or treatments that are empirically effective (i.e. participants on aggregate have better outcomes than non-participants – or at least drop-outs/non-completers).

9 Correctional Services Accreditation & Advisory Panel
NOMS Commissioning Intentions for Discussion Document July 2012

10 Table 1: Reoffending factors (criminogenic needs)
1. Anti-social thinking and behaviour 2. Pro-criminal attitudes 3. Social supports for crime (antisocial associates) 4. Drug misuse 5. Alcohol misuse 6. Family relationship problems 7. Poor work habits 8. Antisocial lifestyle 9. Homelessness

11 First Person Evidence “I know I did bad things but I paid the price for five years by being in these walls. I want to go back and start over but how do I do that. They won’t let me forget and they have my picture around. I am a changed man but they won’t let me be changed.” (Taxman et al. 2002, 17). “No matter how much time we do, everyone always thinks it’s like once a criminal always a criminal and that is how people see me and it’s very hard to deal with” (Dodge & Pogrebin 2001, 49). “Every time I filled out an application and ran across that section about felony convictions, it made me feel sick inside. I felt like getting up and walking out on the spot. What was the use? I knew what they were going to do” (McCall, 1994, 234).

12 User Voices “You are labelled as a felon, and you’re always gonna be assumed and known to have contact with that criminal activity and them ethics. And even when I get off parole, I’m still gonna have an “F” on my record” (Uggen, Manza, and Behrens 2004, 283). “I am an outcast four times over….Ex-con, ex-junkie, black, and HIV-positive. I’d be lyin’ if I told you I had any dreams” (Wynn 2001, 17)

13 Chiricos et al, 2009 Sample of 95,919 men and women over a two-year period in Florida who were either adjudicated or had adjudication withheld Found that those who were formally labeled were significantly more likely to recidivate within two years than those who were not. Hierarchical linear modeling Inaugural winner of the American Society of Criminology’s prize for research article.

14 Rochester Youth Development Study
Bernburg and Krohn (2003) found that criminal justice intervention in mid-adolescence increases criminal behaviour up to 22 years old through its impact on educational and occupational attainment. “Youths who experience juvenile justice interventions are significantly more likely to be members of a gang during the successive period [of the study]. Juvenile justice intervention has a significant, positive [i.e. negative!] effect on subsequent peer delinquency”

15 National Longitudinal Survey of Youth
Davies and Tanner (2003) found that criminal justice contact between the ages of 15 and 23 was strongly predictive of employment outcomes at ages 29-37, even controlling for other risk factors associated with offending.

16 Wolfgang’s 1958 Philadelphia Birth Cohort
Tracy and Kempf-Leonard (1996) follow-up of the 1958 Philadelphia birth cohort found that adolescent incarceration was one of the strongest predictors of adult criminality.

17 Jeff Fagan & Aaron Kupchik (2003)
Fagan, Kupchik, & Liberman, 2003 tracked arrests in NYC over a two year period and found that individuals who received “any court” experience were much more likely to be re-arrested; however, those who were sent to adult court were re-arrested and re-incarcerated at a much higher rate than those sent to juvenile court.

18 Taxman & Piquero Drunk Drivers Sample
Conviction for drunk driving was associated with a 12 per cent increase in risk of recidivism. Yet when first-time offenders were analysed separately, this increased to 27 per cent.

19 Bales & Piquero (2012) Bales and Piquero assess compare the effect of imprisonment on reoffending relative to a prison diversion program for over 79,000 individuals sentenced to state prison and 65,000 offenders sentenced to Community Control between 1994 and “Findings indicate that imprisonment exerts a criminogenic effect and that this substantive conclusion holds across all three methods”

20 Is that all you got?? Other criminological studies finding support for labelling hypotheses: Adams & Evans, 1996 De Li, 1999 Johnson, Simons & Conger, 2004 Kaplan & Johnson, 1991 Matsuetda, 1992 Palarma, et al., 1986 Ray & Downs, 1986 Stewart et al, 2002 Triplett & Jarjoura, 1994 Zhang, 1997

21 Comparative International Research
Huizinga et al (2003) comparative study of two, well established longitudinal studies – one in Bremen Germany the other in Denver, USA – found that arrests and sanctioning were related to higher levels of offending, and that the more severe the sanctioning, the more serious the subsequent criminal career.

22 Farrington’s Cambridge Study
“We find persistent and strong associations between juvenile conviction and adult criminal behaviour, antisocial personality and life success. Incarceration increased [these] risks … over and above the effects of conviction without incarceration” (Murray and Farrington, 2013, p. 1).

23 Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime
McAra & McVie (2007) “Repeated and more intensive forms of contact with youth justice agencies may be damaging to young people in the long term, even within the confines of a welfare-based system” (337). “[Our research] shows how labelling processes within agency working cultures serve to recycle certain categories of children into the youth justice system, whereas others serious offenders escape the tutelage of the formal system altogether. The deeper a child penetrates the formal system, the less likely he or she is to desist from offending”

24 Labelling and Stereotype Threat in the Classroom… and beyond
Teacher expectancies of student performance are strongly predictive of student performance on standardized tests (Rosenthal and Jacobson, 1992; Steele, 2010). Meta-analyses of studies conducted both inside and outside the research laboratory suggest an average effect size or correlation (r) of over .30 in studies of interpersonal expectancy effects (Rosenthal 2002; Kierein and Gold 2000).

25 What about Deterrence?: Doesn’t “Prison Work”?
“Specific Deterrence” is the “antithesis to labelling” Deterrence theory (e.g., Andenaes, 1968) anticipates that official sanctions will reduce rather than amplify criminal involvement Andenaes, J. (1968). Does punishment deter crime? Criminal Law Quarterly, 11,

26 No respect for the dead? James McGuire (1995) “The Death of Deterrence”. In J. McGuire and B. Rowson (Eds.), Does punishment work? London, UK. London: ISTD. “Evidence for the impact of punishment is extremely difficult to obtain and findings in support of deterrence theory have consistently proved elusive” (McGuire, 2002) Mike Lynch, et al (1999) “Beating a dead horse: Is there any basic empirical evidence for the deterrent effect of imprisonment?” Crime, Law and Social Change, 31, After examining 325 comparisons involving 336,052 individuals: “We can say that imprisonment does not appear to deter most criminals” (Lynch, et al 1999, p. 348).

27 Proof of the Pudding For the 2004 cohort of young men released from prison, 75 per cent of 18 to 20 year-olds had re-offended within two years. Gendreau and colleagues’ (1999) meta-analysis, synthesizing the findings from 50 prison effects studies dating from 1958 involving over 300,000 prisoner subjects, found the higher the quality of the study (including two randomized designs), the more likely it was to find a strong positive (i.e. negative) correlation between time spent in prison and recidivism.

28 Prison Effects Almost two-thirds of the prisoners lose their jobs as a result of their imprisonment Four out of ten prisoners are homeless on release Over two-fifths lose contact with families or friends in the course of a prison sentence 66.6% of prisoners have no job one year after release Ex-prisoners have a mortality rate 3 ½ times that of the population in first 2 years after release

29 Structural Impediments and “Cumulative Continuity”
Sampson and Laub (1997) argue that criminality is a kind of ‘chimera’ that ‘mortgages one’s future’ by blocking opportunities for achieving success in employment, education, and even in marriage. “The released offender confronts a situation at release that virtually ensures his failure” (McArthur, 1974, p. 1).

30 From Prisonisation... “Prisonisation instills prison-based habits and ways of being, an overdependency on external structures and routines to organise and regulate one’s behaviour, a tough veneer that precludes expressing weakness or vulnerability, the generalised mistrust that comes from the fear of exploitation, and a tendency to strike out in response to minimal provocations. All are highly functional inside prison and problematic virtually everywhere else” (Haney, 2006; see also Grounds & Jamieson, 2003)

31 To “Post-Incarceration Syndrome”
Prisoners 10 x more likely to suffer from PTSD symptoms than wider population (Heckman, et al 2007) “Our findings suggest that post-incarceration syndrome constitutes a discrete subtype of PTSD that results from long-term imprisonment” (Liem & Kunst, 2013; Harvard University)

32 An Expensive Way of Making Bad People Worse
“The criminal justice system feeds on itself. The more people who are arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and especially incarcerated, the larger is the criminally stigmatized underclass screened out of legitimate opportunities” (Jacobs, 2006: 387)

33 Invisible Stripes “We know now why men ‘come back to prison a second, third or fourth time.’ … It is because the prisoner, on his discharge from prison, is conscious of invisible stripes fastened upon him by tradition and prejudice” (Lewis Lawes, Governor of Sing Sing Prison, NY, 1938: 298).

34 Impacts of Imprisonment
[Prison] breaks up families. It is hard for prisoners to retain or subsequently to secure law-abiding jobs. Imprisonment can lessen people’s sense of responsibility for their actions and reduce their self-respect, both of which are fundamental to law abiding citizenship. Some, often the young and less experienced, acquire in prisons a wider knowledge of criminal activity. Imprisonment is costly for the individual, for the prisoner’s family and for the community (Home Office 1991 para 1.16).

35 Collateral Consequences on Families (forthcoming APA Books)
Joe Murray and colleagues found “Parental arrest and conviction without imprisonment did not predict problem behaviours for this study.” “When compared to other European countries, effects of parental imprisonment were much stronger in England than in Sweden or Holland, suggesting that higher levels of welfare support or less punitive penal policies might reduce harmful effects of parental imprisonment on children”

36 Collateral Consequences on Communities
‘Cycling a large number of young men from a particular place through imprisonment, and then returning them to that place, is not healthy for the people who live in that place’ (Todd Clear)

37 Wider harm to the common good
It has weakened labour markets, especially by weakening the earning power of people who cycle through the prison system; It has reduced the rate of marriage; It has contributed to problematic health outcomes, including STDs and teen-age births; It has served as a source of negative attitudes toward the justice system Todd Clear again

38 Mass Incarceration: Us and Them

39 The Impact of Mass Incarceration on Poverty
“Relying on a state-level panel spanning 1980 to 2004, the study measures the impact of incarceration on three poverty indexes. ... The evidence indicates that growing incarceration has significantly increased poverty, regardless of which index is used to gauge poverty. Indeed, the official poverty rate would have fallen considerably during the period had it not been for mass incarceration” (DeFina & Hannon, 2013)

40 McAra & McVie (2007) European Journal of Criminology
“Over the past decade, youth justice discourse in many western jurisdictions has become dominated by the mantra of ‘evidence-based’ policy. Informed by the results of research on risk and protective factors and (more especially) by the precepts underpinning the ‘what works’ agenda, huge resources have been devoted to early intervention initiatives for ‘at risk’ children and their families, as well as to specialist programmes aimed at reducing re-offending among older, more persistent offenders. This has been accompanied (particularly in the UK) by a massive increase in government sponsored research, focused on evaluating programme effectiveness and establishing value for money” ( )

41 McAra & McVie (2007) European Journal of Criminology (cont’d)
“Evidence-based policy, as currently conceived, has a particularly seductive quality for politicians, not least because its scientific imprimatur suggests political neutrality and because it has the capacity to enhance central (government) control over youth justice agencies, through national standards, performance indicators and evaluation research – all considered integral to the delivery of ‘programme integrity’” (316).

42 McAra & McVie (2007) European Journal of Criminology (cont’d)
“It also has a seductive quality for certain sectors of academia (providing a major source of research income and sustaining a new generation of contract researchers) and for some practitioners (as, for example, within Scotland, where the ‘what works’ agenda has functioned to re-professionalize and re-legitimize the social work contribution to criminal justice; see McAra 2005a). Consequently, a range of more or less powerful groups now have a strong vested interest in maintaining the evidence-based approach” (316).

43 McAra & McVie (2007) European Journal of Criminology (cont’d)
“As a counterweight to this, however, there is a growing body of … studies that have explored the longer-term (mostly damaging) impact of system (rather than individual programme) contact on young people” (316). Yet “an evidence-base that suggests that less intervention is rather more effective in reducing offending becomes ‘politically’ untenable” (339).

44 McAra & McVie (2007) Euro Journal of Criminology (Last words)
“Accepting that, in some cases, doing less is better than doing more requires both courage and vision on the part of policy makers. A realization of this vision in turn requires acceptance that youth justice agencies cannot, by themselves, make the wider public feel safer nor can they mend broken families and remake shattered communities. To the extent that systems appear to damage young people and inhibit their capacity to change, then they do not, and never will, deliver justice” (340).

45 Risk Assessing Prisons
We psychologists need to add a crucial “dynamic risk factor” to every psychological assessment we do -- Not “how dangerous is this person”, but “how dangerous is this prison for this person?”

46 “How much damage will another month of incarceration do to this individual”?

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