While these studies were methodologically more rigorous than earlier ones, they still had limitations. The measures used were insensitive to subtle effects of imprisonment, some prisoner samples were non-representative and such factors as age and prior prison experience were not taken into account. Nonetheless, the evidence from these studies still indicates that the gross psychological deterioration suggested by the traditional deterioration model is not an inevitable consequence of long term incarceration and that imprisonment is not generally or uniformly damaging (Zamble & Porporino, 1988). Clearly, more research needs to be done into the effects of incarceration on the individual level, as each offender will respond to their environment differently. Furthermore, long term inmates sentenced for different lengths of time in different institutions are subject to varying degrees of deprivation and isolation, and programming available for these offenders will also vary. Thus, future studies undertaken to assess deterioration in prisons need to be strictly controlled for these factors.

Prior to the rise of HIV and other life threatening infectious diseases like hepatitis C, physical deterioration in prisons was not definitively established in the social-scientific literature. Bonta and Gendreau (1990) argue that this is in part due to the widespread availability of medical services within correctional institutions. In general, prison food is adequate and inmates often eat a healthier variety of foods than they would on the "outside." In the last decade, however, it has become apparent that inmates are at a much higher risk than the general public for contacting HIV and hepatitis B and C. From January to July of 1995, 18 new cases of active hepatitis B and 200 new cases of hepatitis C arose in federal correctional facilities (Malkin, 1995). In that year, after studies were conducted at three penitentiaries, it was estimated that between 28% and 40% of federal inmates were hepatitis C positive. In the month of August 1995, 152 federal inmates had been classified as HIV positive, up 40% since April 1994 (Jürgens, 1996). The number of HIV cases in federal prisons has continued to rise. In 1997, there were 158 known cases of HIV (CSC, 1998). It has been reported that prison infection rates for HIV is 10 times that of the general Canadian population (Jürgens, 1996; CSC, 1998). The longer a person remains in prison thus, the more likely they are to become infected with the HIV virus.


The prisonization model, first developed in 1940, holds that the longer inmates are incarcerated, the more "criminalized" and distanced they become from the values and behaviours of society outside prison walls. A process involving changes within the individual inmate, prisonization results in the inmate increasingly acquiring the values, standards and behaviour patterns of the other inmates; imprisonment causes prisonization, which in turn results in the inmate assuming criminal role identities (Zingraff, 1975). Two variations on the prisonization theory have emerged. Some sociologists have argued that it is pre-imprisonment attitudes and behaviour patterns and the duration of involvement with criminal value systems prior to incarceration which are the crucial determinants of prisonization (Irwin, 1970, Irwin & Cressey, 1962, Thomas & Petersen, 1977, cited in Zamble & Porporino, 1988). Others have argued it is primarily factors within the corrections institution which determine the prisonization process. They suggested that the degree of prisonization could be affected by such factors as length of time incarcerated, interpersonal ties with other criminals, proportion of time served, social role adaptation of the inmate, post-release expectations of the inmate, degree of alienation from society, degree of alienation from the institution and self-concept of the inmate (Zingraff, 1975).


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