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Social Isolation and Inmate Behavior: A Conceptual Framework for Theorizing Prison Visitation and Guiding and Assessing Research

NCJ Number
243824
Journal
Journal of Criminal Justice Volume: 41 Issue: 4 Dated: July - August 2013 Pages: 252-261
Author(s)
Joshua C. Cochran; Daniel P. Mears
Date Published
August 2013
Length
10 pages
Annotation
This study reviewd theory and research on inmate visitation in systematically examining heterogeneity in visitation and the implications of this heterogeneity.
Abstract
The study identified five dimensions of inmate visitation that are subject to variations that may bear upon whether visitation benefits or adversely affects inmate adjustment while in prison and during reentry. The five dimensions are visitation timing, longitudinal patterns in visitation, visitor type, visitation experiences, and inmate characteristics. Several implications stem from the se of this framework in examining research on prisoner visitation and to guide theoretical and empirical research aimed at understanding the effects of social ties on inmate adjustment and reentry. First, the use of this framework helps in identifying and describing the heterogeneity of visitation and, in turn, the possibility of different effects of visitation patterns and experiences on behavior. Second, the conceptual framework outlined here provides a basis for evaluating prior scholarship. Third, the framework guides future research in systematically assessing visitation, and this advances theory and policy that focuses on understanding and improving prison outcomes. Arguments for the importance of research on the dimensions of inmate visitation are that prisoners have a legal right to be visited; visitation may reduce the adverse effects of social isolation while in prison; visitation can reduce or increase misconduct and recidivism; there is a need for cost-effective prison interventions; and there has been limited research on inmate visitation. 1 table and 126 references