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Unwanted Effects of Long-Term Imprisonment (From Problems of Long-Term Imprisonment, P 183-199, 1987, Anthony E Bottoms and Roy Light, eds. -- See NCJ-108254)

NCJ Number
N Walker
Date Published
17 pages
This paper examines the deleterious effects of long-term imprisonment on inmates.
Studies of inmates suggest that imprisonment may have ill effects on physical health, with inmates showing above normal rates of respiratory, digestive, and parasitic disorders and physical injuries. In addition, certain classes of prisoners, such as child molesters, are particularly at risk of physical injury. Further, the magnitude of drug abuse and permissive attitudes toward it raise the spector of future problems with blood-born diseases such as hepatitis and acquired immune deficiency syndrome. There is no evidence that imprisonment results in mental disorder, although depressed and suicidal inmates may present management problems. More research attention has been given to psychological effects of imprisonment or prisonization. However, while research has found some evidence that long incarceration may result in greater dependence, introversion, and less decisionmaking ability, these changes may represent coping strategies and appear to reverse themselves following release from prison. Finally, no evidence exists that length of sentence has significant effects either on recidivism or rate of offending. 5 notes and 37 references.