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Deviants or Scapegoats: An Examination of Pseudofamily Groups and Dyads in Two Texas Prisons

NCJ Number
Prison Journal Volume: 86 Issue: 1 Dated: March 2006 Pages: 114-139
Denise W. Huggins; Loretta Capeheart; Elizabeth Newman
Date Published
March 2006
26 pages
Using data collected in two Texas women's prisons, this study examined reasons given by the women for being in pseudofamily groups or love relationships ("dyads") in prison; also examined was whether the pseudofamily groups were responsible for the problems attributed to them.
Of the 214 women who completed and returned questionnaires, approximately 29 percent indicated they were members of a pseudofamily group. The majority of family group members were White, in their early thirties, had committed a violent crime or drug and/or alcohol offense, had children, identified themselves as heterosexual, and were serving sentences of 11 to 12 years. Slightly more than 50 percent stated they joined the family so they would not feel alone, so they could touch and hug someone, and so they could share problems. Eighteen percent mentioned sexual gratification as a reason for family membership, and 1 percent stated hustling for goods and/or services was the motivation for family membership. Women who were members of a family group were more likely to report fighting and/or being cited for a rule violation than inmates who were not family members. Less than 30 percent of the women were currently involved in a love or sexual relationship, and less than 40 percent of the respondents had been involved in past relationships of either type. Those involved in such relationships indicated that being close and intimate with someone was the main motivation for the relationship. Data were obtained through in-depth interviews and surveys. Quantitative data pertained to demographic characteristics of the inmates and staff. Qualitative data explored attitudes and perspectives toward family groups and/or dyads. The qualitative data were used for an analysis of the differences in perceptions of membership in pseudofamilies among members of family groups, inmate nonmembers, and correctional staff. 5 tables and 45 references