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Prisoners' Adjustment, Correctional Officers, and Context: The Foreground and Background of Punishment in Late Modernity

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Past research indicates that front-line criminal justice workers are the critical players in determining whether innovations in penal policy are realized. Recent attempts to understand the diversity in the application of the penal harm movement have, however, sidestepped the primary audience of these policies, the population of convicted offenders. This article uses data from two prisons to examine the effects of correctional officers on women prisoners' adjustment to prison life. Using regression models and interview data, we find that correctional officer behavior has a profound impact on women's ability to adjust to prison, and this effect is largely independent of the prisoners' characteristics and the institutions in which they are housed. On a theoretical level, the findings speak to recent calls to examine the background and foreground of penal culture. On a practical level, they highlight the need to understand the environments from which women are emerging, not just the communities into which they are released.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Minnesota

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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