What is prisonization?  

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“Prisonization” is a word coined to identify the sociological changes that persons undergo during incarceration that they bring with them after release or parole; criminologists identify certain virtually universal alterations to the personality after the imprisonment experience, especially important in evaluating parolee behavior.  Central among these are an extreme protection of the few opportunities for ownership and choice (manifested in resistance to any limitations of movement, forcing of one’s will on the paroled, and a protectionism of worldly good); a “pack” mentality--a strong desire to affiliate with like persons (racial, nationality, etc.), particularly difficult for the parolee because of the rules against contact with other parolees; and a difficulty in judging persons at their word or at face-value(manifested in a tendency to suspect conspiracy, lack of trust in others, and a tendency to find double meaning in words and gestures and body language).  There is also a negative learning process in prison—how to commit crimes more successfully, how to avoid evidence, how to “get away with” illegal deeds.  Prisonization is important to study especially when assessing whether first-time offenders will be damaged incurably from the prison experience, and when assessing parolee behavior.

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