Black Women in Prison Term Paper

Pages: 30 (10602 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 0  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

¶ … women at five state prison facilities located in Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi. The purpose of this research is to study specifically the effects of being an older black female in prison today: how does prison life affect depression and anxiety levels, arid does a black woman's socioeconomic background contribute to or hinder her ability to adapt to prison life? Also the effect that racial and cultural discrimination may have on black female inmates serving longer sentences and facing the possibly of dying in prison. The initial results of the surveys indicated a significant difference in depression, anxiety, somatization, prison adjustment, and death anxiety levels between White and Black female offenders.

TABLE of CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION

LITERATURE REVIEW

FEAMLE INMATES

AGING (Graying) INMATES

BLACK / FEMALE / AGING INMATES

METHODOLOGY

PARTICIPANTS

INSTRUMENT

MEASURES

HOPKINS SYMPTOM CHECKLIST.

TEMPLER'S DEATH ANXIETY SCALE.

DATA COLLECTION

DATA ANALYSIS

RESULTS:

MEANS

BIVARIATE CORRELATIONS

CROSS-TABULATION SCALES

LIMITATIONS of the STUDY

DISCUSSION/CONCLUSION

REFERENCES

APPENDIXES

A. HOPKINS SELF-REPORT INVENTORY

B. GROUP STATICS for SAMPLE MEAN

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C. INDEPENDENT SAMPLES T-TEST

D. CROSS-TABULATION SCALES..38

E. DESCRIPTIVE STATISTICS

INTRODUCTION

TOPIC: Term Paper on Black Women in Prison Assignment

One of the most striking statistics in the American penal system is exponential expansion in prison population. From 300,000 prisoners in 1977, the prison population has risen steadily to over 1.5 million as of June 30, 2005, a 400% increase. By 2005, states were collectively spending over $43 billion per year on prisons. That this followed nearly fifty years of relative stability makes the growth all the more remarkable. (Pfaff, 2008) Julius Debro, an African-American scholar and leader in the field of criminal justice, found that another shift occurred in the year 1977. Prison populations shifted dramatically between 1967 and 1977 from having a white majority to a black majority. In addition to documenting racial discrimination, he asserted that covert racism in prison assumed many forms. For instance, whites were generally given more desirable work assignments, while blacks were given less desirable custodial assignments that limited their movement within the institution. (Ross & Hawkins, 1995) However, when it comes to women in prison there has been little research done as compared with that of men or the general population. There is however and alarming trend, the population of inmates overall that are 50+ years of age has been growing at a tremendous rate. This has been termed by some as the "Graying of American Prisons" (Abner, 2006) and has become both a social and financial crisis for prisons in general and has severely impacted the aging female population as well. This number is expected to top the quarter million mark by 2010.

Current research reveals that in general older women in prison have growing concerns about health, emotional stress, and social adaptation when trying to adjust to prison life. While at the moment women constitute a smaller portion of the overall prison population their numbers are increasing at a higher rate than that of their male counterparts. "On any given day, state and federal prisons in the United States hold more than 1,4 million inmates, of which roughly

101,179 are women" (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2005, p. 32). In 1999, females represented roughly 10.8% of all populations according to a.J. Beck, While older offenders only account for 5% of this population, a disproportionate number of these women are African-American. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation data, "women accounted for 20% of the increase in drug arrests between 1980-1989" (Greenhouse, 1991, p. 10). Older women reported a pervasive fear of abuse, from both fellow prisoners and staff.

In a comparison of women prisoners to their male counterparts, the increase in population size has almost doubled. In a national comparison of female prisoners, surveys show that female prisoners are "economically, politically, and socially marginalized" (Owen and Bloom, 1995, p. 165.). The lack of literature on female prisoners is not because of the fact that they do not commit crimes, but rather, social scientists choose to focus on their male counterparts instead when looking for the issues that involve prison inmates. Over the past 20 years the national female incarceration rate has more than doubled. Prison inmate size in 1990 was 44,000; the number in 2001 rose by more than 100% to 94,000. In spite of this large increase, the number of studies done on assessing adjustments in female inmates has been very limited. (Thompson and Loper, 2005, p. 715).

In a specific instance in the California correctional system most older women prisoners are bunked eight inmates to a cell with only minimal consideration for an individual's age, health status, or physical limitations. While many older women articulate the frustrations of overcrowding, noise, lack of privacy, and intergenerational tensions, they also reaffirm the importance of maintaining social relationships with younger prisoners. (Dignity Denied, 2006)

After these generalizations comes another factor that, by all prison rules and standards should not make a difference. Race and in particular inmates of African-American heritage face these typical problems but it is being found that their treatment both before and after incarceration is markedly different from their white counterparts.

At midyear 2000, black women were incarcerated at a rate 6 times that of white women (or 380 per 100,000 U.S. residents versus 63 per 100,000 U.S. residents). By June 30, 2007, the incarceration rate for black women declined to 3.7 times that of white women (or 348 versus 95). An 8.4% decline in the incarceration rate for black women and a 51% increase in the rate for white women accounted for the overall decrease in the incarceration rate of black women relative to white women at midyear 2007. (Lawston, 2008, p. 5)

Lawston goes on to point out that in 2007, the incarceration rate of black women was 348 per 100,000 U.S. residents as compared to 146 Hispanic women and 95 white women per 100,000. Black women tended to be incarcerated at higher rates than their Hispanic or White women counterparts across all age categories.

In the United States today, a black female is seven times more likely to be incarcerated than a white female- for similar criminal activity. While African-American females account for only thirteen percent of the American female population, they account for forty-four percent of America's female inmate population. African-American women are more often denied bail and returned to prison for parole violation than are white females. (Lawston, 2008, p. 7)

These initial statistics also play a role in the treatment of black women in general but also affect the graying population of inmates as the age in a system that does not take their needs into full consideration.

LITERATURE REVIEW

In order to understand the scope of this issue this literature review will be divided into three sections, Female Inmates, Aging Inmates, and Black Female / Aging Inmates.

FEAMLE INMATES

The number of women in prison has dramatically increased over the past two decades. The increase could be attributed to the changing policies regarding drug crimes such as Truth-in-sentencing laws, mandatory minimums, and three-strikes-and-you're-out rules established over the past several decades are keeping more offenders confined in prison for longer periods of time. (Sabol & Couture, 2008, p. 8) There have also been many socioeconomic changes that have created the increased need for women, especially mothers, to commit crimes.

There is also to be considered the marginal increase in the percentage of older adults in general as a result of baby boomers reaching late adulthood. Regardless of the reason, there has been a tremendous increase in long-term female incarceration and with that comes an increased concern about the health and welfare of this prison population.

In a comparison of women prisoners to their male counterparts, the increase in population size has almost doubled. In a national comparison of female prisoners, surveys show that female prisoners are "economically, politically, and socially marginalized" (Owen and Bloom, 1995, p. 165). The lack of literature on female prisoners is not because of the fact that they do not commit crimes, but rather, social scientists choose to focus on their male counterparts instead when looking for the issues that involve prison inmates. Over the past 20 years the national female incarceration rate has more than doubled. Prison inmate size in 1990 was 44,000; the number in 2001 rose by more than 100% to 94,000. In spite of this large increase, the number of studies done on assessing adjustments in female inmates has been very limited. (Thompson and Loper, 2005, p. 715).

While statistically, "men are 15 times more likely to be incarcerated than women, the rate of incarceration is growing the most for females at a 48% increase" (Aday, 2003, p. 59). This trend has been occurring for some time now as Chisney-Lind notes:

The rate of growth in female imprisonment also has outpaced that of men; since 1985 the annual rate of growth in the number of female inmates has averaged 11.1%, higher than the 7.6% average increase in male inmates. In 1996 alone, the number of females grew at a rate nearly double that of males… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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