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NCJ Number
D A Ward; G G Kassebaum
Date Published
281 pages
The social and sexual behavior of female inmates, especially the nature and incidence of homosexuality, were examined using data from inmate records, interviews, and a questionnaire survey of inmates of the California Institution for Women in Frontera.
Results revealed that separation from the family was the most severe source of a sense of deprivation among these female inmates. This and other factors produced an inmate social organization that differed from that of male prison communities. A homosexual love affair is the major way in which female inmates adapt to the pains of imprisonment. Other inmates actively rebel or accept institutional life as being a satisfactory existence. The definition of homosexuality varies between and among staff and inmates; in addition, most participants try to conceal their activities from others. However, it appears that about 50 percent of the inmates at Frontera are sexually involved at least once during their term of imprisonment. Both staff and inmates believe that most of this homosexuality is really bisexuality, because the women will have heterosexual relationships when they leave prison. Findings suggest that the institution must provide legitimate programs that are functionally equivalent to homosexuality if they want to reduce the incidence of this adaptation. However, many factors limit the ability of correctional personnel to establish such problems. Nevertheless, one innovation that would be possible would be to encourage the formation of peer groups, or guided group interaction, for new inmates, to provide interpersonal support and guidance. Tables, footnotes, and appended description of methodology