Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

Psychological Aspect of Liberty Deprivation and Custodial Environment

Academic journal article Contemporary Readings in Law and Social Justice

Psychological Aspect of Liberty Deprivation and Custodial Environment

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. In any society behavior deviation from basic social rules and values is a common phenomenon. Any society judges the behavior of its members, not so much in terms of its intrinsic motivations, but especially in terms of this behavior's compliance with the recognized rules and values. Rules violation entails - as you well know- coercitive and punitive measures. Goffman considers prison as a total institution, in the sense of place of resistance to a number of individuals who have similar situations, being separated by the outside society for a considerable period of time, leading together a cycle of life enclosed by formal bans forbidding them to carry out certain activities, to have contact with their families, to personalize the inhabited space, or to take initiatives. Crime as a social phenomenon harms society's interests, and those who break the rules are labeled as such. The penalty is imprisonment for them, where the prisoner is subjected to coercive effects of prison life, with the status subordinated to the law. Liberty deprivation in a penitentiary environment has a great resonance in the lifestyle of each person, both during detention as well as after release.

Keywords: penitentiary, sanction time, rule, crime, law

1. Introduction

Acute restriction of personal freedom, impersonal relations, are lack of information, authoritarian regime, closed environment and monotonous activities, are all felt by the prisoner as violations of his integrity as a human being. In many cases the impact of imprisonment on personality components is seen as dramatic generating and prolonging different behaviors than those previously considered in a freedom environment.3

Life in prison is difficult, there any intimacy is cancelled, and everything is wide in the open for everyone to see. Interpersonal relations occupy a very important role within prisoners' groups that are heterogeneous groups. Relationships like attraction - rejection - indifference appear as well as informal leaders.

Interpersonal relationships are a drain, a waste of itself, because you cannot hide from the bad conduct of others, and possibilities for change almost don't exist.

For the person serving a sentence in prison, imprisonment environment helps structure two types of issues: adjusting to the specific rules and values of this framework, and a subsequent development of his personality.

The impact of detention on the individual is felt by limiting the space of movement and time management. Confining the area of movement leads to some ancestral territorial phenomenon - people behavior of defense within their territory, which is manifested by an exaggerated rigor in "defending personal space."4

In prison inmates have a rigid authority hierarchical structure and the position that each one of them holds within the system depends on his experience and the specialty of their crime conviction, on the length of their conviction and on the structure of their personality. Imprisonment entails a hostile attitude (opened or hidden) towards prison staff, the "outside" world and, at the same time developing a loyalty towards other inmates. In this case the prisoner will try to join the informal group of detainees and will unconditionally submit to informal leader, even if such attitude may not be seen well by the prison staff.

Stanton Wheeler (1968) points out that the phenomenon of imprisonment, of joining the group of prisoners, of identifying to a prison population subculture is only a first phase in the prisoner's evolution, because in the second phase of the detention period can be seen the desimprisonment phenomenon. In other words, more the prisoner is approaching the time of his release; he tends to adopt a closer stand to what is desirable from a social perspective.5

The imprisonment phenomenon is, therefore the result of a "social pressure" exerted by the informal group of prisoners and represents a force of counter-education against the therapeutically-educative efforts of penitentiary specialized staff (D. …

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