SAGE Journal Articles

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Journal Article 1: Harner, H. M., & Riley, S. (2013). The impact of incarceration on women’s mental health: Responses from women in a maximum-security prison. Qualitative Health Research, 23(1), 26–42.

Abstract: Many women enter prison with significant mental health conditions. Without appropriate intervention during incarceration, there is the potential for these conditions to worsen during confinement. As a result, women, most of whom will eventually be released from prison, might return to their families and communities with even more complex mental health needs. We examined women’s perceptions of how incarceration had affected their mental health. Our study approach included descriptive surveys and focus groups with women in prison. Our analysis revealed that women’s mental health might worsen, might improve, or might remain the same as a result of incarceration. Women’s accounts also provide evidence to support the need for all women’s correctional institutions to adopt a trauma-informed approach to care of this vulnerable population.

Journal Article 2: De Claire, K., & Dixon, L. (2017). The effects of prison visits from family members on prisoners’ well-being, prison rule breaking, and recidivism: A review of research since 1991. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 18(2), 185–199.

Abstract: The effect of family visits on prisoner well-being and future behavior is an important consideration in the development of prison policy. This review systematically examines current research findings that explore the impact of prison visits from family members on three specific offender outcomes: prisoners’ well-being, rule breaking within the prison, and recidivism. The review focuses on visits by family and does not duplicate earlier reviews but rather extends them into current literature, through identification of empirical studies conducted post 1989, published since 1991. Ten studies met the stipulated inclusion criteria. All are case–control and cohort studies. The review of studies used a standardized quality assessment tool. Results show considerable variation in study quality, methods, and findings. However, studies consistently reported positive effects of prisoners receiving visits. Prison visits reduced depressive symptoms in women and adolescent prisoners. There was some evidence of reduction in rule-breaking behavior. One high-quality study suggested that visits reduced recidivism and increased survival in the community. Although there were positive outcomes associated with prison visits, it was not possible to draw strong conclusions for the outcomes of interest due to a lack of research, methodological discrepancies, and variability in outcome measures and results. The discussion considers the implications of the findings for policy, practice, and research.