Psychopathology, victimization experiences, and prison adjustment in women at Fluvanna maximum-security facility

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Jahic, Ilma
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DeLisi, Matthew
Bouffard, Leana A.
Burgason, Kyle
Butler, Dan
Shelly, Mack
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ABSTRACT The examination of prison adjustment among inmates in the United States has a long tradition of quantitative research focused mostly on male inmates examining factors necessary for understanding how they adjust to the prison. Such a tradition contributed to a significant knowledge gap in the existing research on prison adjustment that lacks independent examination targeting only female inmates. More recent literature suggests that there are important gender differences in prison adjustment among female and male inmates. Female inmates bring qualitatively different life experiences and characteristics into prison that can impact their adjustment to rigid prison environment. This is especially true in terms of personality disorders, psychopathy, and victimization experiences. However, scarce research has examined the relationship between these gender-specific factors and prison adjustment among females. Relying on deprivation, importation, and integration framework this dissertation fills this gap in the literature by exploring and describing relationships between personality disorders, psychopathy, and victimization experiences with prison adjustment among female inmates. Utilizing secondary data on prison adjustment among a sample of 586 female inmates housed at a maximum-security prison at Fluvanna, Virginia, OLS, logistic, negative binomial, and Poisson regression analyses were conducted to assess the relationships between personality disorders, psychopathy, and victimization experiences with prison adjustment. Combining variables from both importation and deprivation models, this study examined predictors that contribute to the engagement in prison misconduct, conflict, and distress in female inmates. Centering female inmates and utilizing deprivation and importation framework, this study advances the existing literature on prison adjustment. Results of the study yield some important findings: a) personality disorders and victimization experiences are highly prevalent in the sample of female inmates housed at Fluvanna, b) personality disorders were significant importation and situational factors that help us understand prison adjustment among the sample, c) female inmates who had experiences physical victimization prior 18 had significantly greater distress score relative to inmates without such an experience, d) female inmates’ prison adjustment was impacted by both importation and deprivation factors that were not consistent across models. These findings provide valuable insights for future research on prison adjustment and can help make prisons safer, more humane and just places that meet specific needs of female inmates. Keywords: personality disorders; psychopathy; victimization; adjustment; prison; prison misconduct.
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