The Effects Prison Has On Female Prisoners Criminology Essay

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Medlicott argues that women's biological make-up predisposes them to be 'naturally nurturing and protective, and less aggressive and destructive' (2007, p.249). The socialisation processes in Western society aim to emphasise the 'passivity, conformity and femininity' of women (Medlicott, 2007, p.249). Therefore those who can be seen to follow such labels, by being a mother for example, are treated with greater leniency by the courts than those who have neglected these responsibilities and 'feminine' women are therefore less likely to be given custodial sentences (Farrington and Morris, 1983, in Medlicott, 2007, p.252). Women who do not conform to these labels may be seen to be 'doubly deviant'; firstly for being criminals and secondly for having 'departed from the natural standard of femininity' (Carlen and Worrall, 2004, in Medlicott, 2007, p.257). As a result of the patriarchal nature of society and the criminal justice system, the need to conform to gender roles has become a large characteristic in the therapeutic model of imprisonment (Medlicott, 2007, p.258).

In his seminal work, Asylums, Goffman identified 'total institutions', including prisons, as being characterised by barriers to the outside world; utilising means such as 'locked doors, high walls [and] barbed wire' (Goffman, 1991, p.15). The rebuilding of Holloway Prison in the 1970s was based on a need for therapy for women prisoners, predetermining that they were physically or mentally ill (Heidensohn, 2002, p.512).The institutions are total in that the inmate's life is entirely carried out within the walls (Goffman, 1991, p.18). Goffman classified three stages in the 'moral career' of those within a total institution: admission, adaptation/mortification and release (1991, p.117-155). Each stage has its own difficulties to overcome where it is often the metaphysical boundaries, for example the boundaries a prison places on the inmates' 'self', such as a lack of choice in their daily routines, which cause the most 'pains'.

As Goffman argued, the purpose of activities within 'total institutions' is to 'fulfil the official aims of the institution' as part of a rational plan (1991, p.17). In conjunction with this, the regimes in women's prisons have a 'heavy emphasis on ideological representations of femininity and the domestic ideal' and control women by a system of 'feminization, domesticization and medicalization' (Smith, 1962; Carlen, 1983; Carlen and Worrall, 2004 in Medlicott, 2007, p.257). However such a label of 'femininity' is almost impossible to achieve in that it is an 'ideal type' and will be subjectively applied by the individual. During 'mortification', the prisoner may curtail their 'self' (Goffman, 1991, p.50) and internalizes the labels placed on them (Goffman, 1991, p58) to ultimately change themselves. Crewe notes that the total dominance exerted by prisons over the inmates can cause 'friction' (Crewe, 2007, p.124).

Sykes outlined a number of 'pains of imprisonment' experienced by those incarcerated at the men's high security New Jersey State Prison including the deprivation of liberty, goods and services, heterosexual relationships, autonomy and security (2007) By loss of liberty, Sykes discusses that the prisoner must live in a strictly organised reality; removed from society and their friends and family (2007, p.65). The loss of autonomy is discussed by way of the inmates' lack of choice in their day-to-day lives as there are strict rules in place to govern their schedule (Sykes, 2007, p.73). Goods and services are lost in that the inmate is deprived of his own material possessions and lives in a 'Spartan environment' although their basic needs for food, warmth and shelter are provided for (Sykes, 2007, p.68). Prisons are single sex institutions and conjugal visits are not permitted in prisons in the United Kingdom. This curbs the prisoners' natural propensity towards sexual intercourse and procreation. It has been argued that owing to access to mass media and pornography, the natural impulses of men are maintained in prison, despite the lack of physical contact with women (Linder, 1951, in Sykes, 2007, p.71). Although some individuals are homosexual before entering prison, some heterosexuals may participate in homosexual acts to alleviate the tension (Sykes, 2007 p.71-72). The loss of security initially appears to be an oxymoron in the secure environment of a prison, however to live with other prisoners such as thieves, rapists, murderers and aggressive homosexuals is far from 'reassuring' and prisoners may be provoked to find their breaking point for their personal safety and that of their few possessions (Sykes, 2007, p.77).

Sykes work, however, did not extend to the ways in which women experience the difficulties of imprisonment. The 'pains of imprisonment' will therefore be examined throughout the 'moral career' to include women to illustrate that Sykes' theories remain relevant and that women have similar experiences to men however they also have additional, gender specific difficulties to overcome. As Crewe noted, both Goffman and Sykes work are concerned with the struggle to maintain the 'self' from the 'persistent attack from social labels and institutions (2007, p127). Prisoners may attempt to find a means of coping with their surroundings and a contrast between strategies sought by men and women will be compared to demonstrate that prison is a far more difficult experience for women. As Sykes' study concluded that imprisonment impacted on the 'masculinity' of the male prisoner, the extent to which prison impacts on the 'femininity' of the female prisoner will be addressed to show that women either become hyper-feminized or masculinised by prison. In addressing theses issues, previous ethnographic research and statistics will be employed.


The loss of liberty experienced upon entering prison may be of particular distress to women as identified by Casale and Padel and Stevenson. They noted that women are often the primary or solitary care-givers to children 'on the outside' and are therefore unable to maintain their maternal role (Casale, 1989; Padel and Stevenson, 1988). Often, women in Casale's study had no link with probation or social workers and it was left to police officers to pick up a child from school or turn off the oven at home (1989, p.68). The lack of liberty to deal with immediate practical problems in the outside world can arguably be the most pressing issue during a woman's admission into prison (Casale, 1989, p.68) and is exacerbated by the length of time taken to resolve the issues. The loss of liberty to care for one's children is also heightened by the loss of goods and services for family on the outside. Although the inmate's basic needs are catered for, those of the child on the outside may not be. Particular relevance to this was acknowledged by Casale who noted the heating allowance benefit was discontinued because the payee was in prison, despite the family still needing the allowance to pay for heating (1989, p.71).

A further 'pain' during the admissions process is the loss of security. The new inmate may be disoriented by their new surroundings and without prior knowledge of the rules and procedures of the institution, may feel vulnerable. Martia, for example, feared she would be sexually assaulted during her admission when she was stripped naked and her body was examined (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.14).

The loss of liberty is constantly reinforced by the anonymity of a uniform or dress code and a

number replacing their name (Sykes, 2007, p.66). During the admissions process, the prisoner loses their manifest identity including their clothing and, in some institutions, their name so that they are left as 'only one more piece of flesh with a name and a number' (Parker, 1973, p.26 in Sapsford, 1983, p.74). 'Janet' found her identity to be more 'naked' without her sentimental bracelet than from the loss of clothing removed during her strip-search and the removal of which, far worse (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.32). A key difference between men and women is the clothing worn before entering prison and that worn 'on the inside'. Casale noted the experience of one inmate who wore stiletto heeled boots to court before being held on remand. Although she could keep many of her clothes during her time in Holloway, her boots were not allowed and were removed from her. This resulted with her being given only a pair of slippers and could not participate in outdoor exercise for three weeks until the prison provided a suitable replacement (Casale, 1989, p.45). Similarly, women may choose to wear their hair far longer than men and therefore need to be able to keep this brushed and tidy. However, 'Janet' discussed how she was unable to keep her hairbrush following a transfer between prisons and therefore could not maintain her appearance (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.31). Women, therefore, have a higher probability of experiencing the pain of loss of goods and services owing to their need for more gender specific items or clothing which may be removed or stolen during imprisonment. Governmental statistics indicate that women experience the pain of loss of goods and services more acutely than men and fail to cope as well because suicide is shown to be a higher risk in women than men when they are victimised by theft (Office for National Statistics, 1999).

Adaptation/ Mortification

Having completed the admission phase of their 'moral career', inmates must adapt to their surroundings and their self may alter as a result. During their adaptation, the feelings of the loss of goods and services and autonomy may become more acute as the prisoner attempts to understand the rules of the institution but cannot follow them. Some prisoners may welcome the routine whereas others may find the rules perplexing and unnecessary, for example the lack of reasoning behind the refusal of parole or the enforcement of the rule to not remove food from the dining hall (Sykes, 2007, p.73-74).'Caroline' was told that to cut her fringe to keep her appearance neat would alter her appearance too drastically yet found the rule incomprehensible as her growing fringe would also alter her appearance (Casale, 1989, p.60). The lack of autonomy may also be caused by a transience and the lack of continuity by staff where prisoners find it difficult to ask for clarification of a request. For example, 'Melinda' was frustrated when she was unable to retrieve a belt of particular sentimental value, which she had left in the exercise area after her guard had been moved to another block (Casale, 1989, p.65). 'Janet' found the rules arbitrary in that the guards interpreted the rules subjectively and there seemed to be 'no rhyme or reason' behind decisions (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.35).

Many find 'lock up' a difficult experience when they are locked in their cells for up to twenty-three hours per day and lack the choice to participate in many activities. Due to the loss of goods and services, this environment may lack mental stimulation and lack the 'subtle symbolic overtones' which individuals place on their objects (Sykes, 2007, p.69). 'Sharon' noted repetitive behaviour in her cell to try and keep her mind occupied including repeatedly washing herself, cleaning her clothes, tidying and attempting to concentrate on reading books (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.105) where in the outside world she may have chosen to socialise with friends or take care of her daughter. This 'isolation panic' occurs because the prisoner, either male or female, dwells on their situation and is unable to participate in any form of prison life because they are either physically or emotionally isolated (Toch, 1992, p.46).

A coping strategy for the lack of liberty, autonomy and continuity in the application of rules is argued by Casale to be distrust because in 'lacking the means to complain about their conditions, prisoners become preoccupied with the behaviour towards them by Prison Officers' (Dobash and Dobash, 1986, p.93 in Casale, 1989, p.62). As Melinda experienced, prisoners would rather lie to their guards regarding the care of their children in the outside world, to protect themselves from further pains of imprisonment, in that she feared that 'they'll put her [daughter] in care and I'll never get her back' (Casale, 1989, p.63) as a result of her loss of liberty to care for her.

The lack of choices and endless hours to fill can provoke either constructive or destructive coping strategies. Both men and women are able to join educational classes to fill their time or as Santos described his experience, to 'contribute to the world' (Santos, 2003, p.xiii). 'Ginger' recalled her experiences of a debating class which was unpopular with the guards as prisoners were not seated with their 'heads down' and the 'air got a little high' (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.117-188). Hudson argued that the women's prison system was designed to turn the inmates into 'normal' women including classes in hair and make-up, needlework and cookery (1996, p.130 in Medlicott, 2007, p.252). In some instances, the 'normalizing' aims of the classes to reinforce the gender stereotypes may be internalized by the individual and their femininity enhanced; for example, 'Mary' completed a course in community care and decided after her sentence to further this on a college course to help keep herself out of prison (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.131-132).

Work in prison can also be a coping strategy for prisoners. Those with a job role were often seen as 'lucky' (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p37) and 'escaping' being locked in their cells for endless hours (Casale, 1989, p.49). However such coping strategies could further enhance the loss of goods and services and autonomy, particularly with women. 'Janet' was keen to be out of her cell and working or in classes but found her job dirty and hygiene difficult to maintain (Padel and Stevenson, 1989, p.40). Casale notes that although the facilities in Holloway looked 'good on paper', the reality of the situation was far different as women, whether working or locked in the cells all day, had to use the sink to wash themselves, small items of clothing and cups (Casale, 1989, p.44). Women were also limited to one bath a week which, during certain points of their menstrual cycle was not enough, particularly if the sink in their cell was also used to wash personal items. 'Margy' spoke openly about the difficulties as prisoners would have to ask for sanitary protection as they needed it which she found 'dead embarrassing' but during the night, none would be given out (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.58). Similarly, baths were very quick, 'just in and out' and in older cells, prisoners were only given a bucket with which to wash themselves and their underwear only compounding the difficulties of hygiene (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.58). In 2002, Her Majesty's Prison Inspectorate found it unacceptable that women, including pregnant women and those who had recently given birth, were often unable to shower a minimum of twice a week (2002).

As 'femininity' and the maternal bonds are heavily emphasised in prison, some prisons make allowances for women with children to continue and strengthen these bonds, thus alleviating their loss of liberty to care for their children. Four prisons in England and Wales accommodate mothers and babies; three accommodate the babies up to 9 months old and Askham Grange, an open prison, accommodates babies up to 18 months old. There are limited spaces in these prisoners, therefore new ways of allowing contact are being implemented; women may be allowed 'temporary release' to spend time at home, special facilities to allow families as larger units to visit the women in prison are being created, and allowing for whole day visits to the prison (Carlen and Worrall, 2004, p.64).

A lack of heterosexual relations can be a very difficult 'pain' during imprisonment particularly in prisons in England and Wales, unlike in America, where conjugal visits are not allowed. The loss of heterosexual relationships may be replaced by a pseudo marital relationship and familial ties may be replaced in a pseudo form as women may struggle to cope with the loss of liberty to care for their families. Four levels of relationship in women's prisons are identified by Selling; friendship; 'play families' of 'mothers', 'daughters' and 'sisters' encompassing all but the conjugal roles; pseudo homosexual relationships or 'having a honey' and playing the conjugal roles; and overt homosexual alliances (1931, in Heffernan, 1972, p.89).Where an inmate 'has a honey', one woman may take on the role of 'husband' and the other, 'wife'. The 'husband' is also labelled with engendered pronouns of 'he', 'his', or 'him'; and 'some have a couple of "wives" and then ... he's a "stud"' (Heffernan, 1972, p.93). Women may adopt perceived roles of 'husband' and 'wife'; man and woman. The masculine partner may have their clothes washed and ironed and their cleaning done for them by their feminine partner (Heffernan, 1972, p.94). Bosworth's study showed the subjects resisting the regime and constructing their own, new identities (Bosworth, 1999, in Heidensohn, 2002, p.513). Attempts to alter one's appearance may be made to appear more masculine by cutting the inmate's hair, wearing men's clothes or walking like a man (Heffernan, 1972, p.94-96). However such adoptions of perceived gender roles are not always based on sex and may be based on the importance of companionship in a relationship (Heffernan, 1972, p97). Sexual relationships between women are not condoned by prison guards and often friendships as well as sexual relationships are separated (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.53) but that is not to say that sexual relations can, and do, occur in prison. 'Sharon' talked about her lack of desire to have sex immediately upon release because she was sexually active in prison (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.103). However, it has also been argued that the forming of sexual relationships and pseudo families in prison is also a coping strategy for the loss of liberty to see their families (Ward and Kassebaum, 1965, in Heidensohn, 2002, p.512) and, unlike in male pseudo relationships, serves for intimacy as opposed to power (Crewe, 2007.p 140).

In men's prisons, Heffernan argues the basis of the sexual relationships or pseudo marital relationships are grounded in aggressive pursuance, usually by the older male where the younger man is in receipt of material and physical support (1927, p.94). Female engendered pronouns and names such as 'gal-boys' may replace the male names and some prisoners have argued these men behave just like women and may make more money from their prostitution than women would(Patterson (no date), p.141 in Heffernan, 1972, p.94).

However, what relieves the pain of imprisonment for one prisoner may be the cause of a different pain for another. Fear of rape or sexual assault in prison can be acute for both men and women as Martia experienced during her admission procedure (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.14) and Peter experienced during his sentence (Toch, 1992, p.260). Sykes notes the opinion of one inmate who claimed 'the worst thing about prison is that you have to live with the other prisoners' (Sykes, 2007, p.77). Women are more likely than men to be the victims of rape and sexual assault (Irwin and Owen, 2005, p.112) and therefore the fear of sexual 'security' is arguably more founded in female than male prisoners. A high proportion of women in prison have been subject to some form of domestic, physical or sexual abuse during their lifetime and the dominance over the female inmate can evoke memories of this abuse (Carlen, 1998 in Crewe, 2007, p.134)There have been multiple reports of staff sexual misconduct by Human Rights Watch (1996), Amnesty International (1999) and other women's rights campaigners and conclude that the experience of women in U.S. state prisons can be 'terrifying' (Irwin and Owen, 2005, p.112). Bowker, however, argues that rape is more common in male institutions and is disproportionately against the white, small, young, middle class, socially isolated, lacking in mental toughness and cooperative with the administration; and those convicted of sex crimes against children or minor property crimes (1982, p.65). He also suggests the racial imbalance of black aggressor and white victim is an attempt to 'demonstrate racial superiority' (Bowker, 1982, p.65) which could be argued to be the assertion of the perpetrator's security. Similarly Johnson (1976) and Toch (1977) found white prisoners were more likely to fear for their safety in comparison to black prisoners who's primary concern was the lack of autonomy and lack of respect (in Crewe, 2007, p.134) The male inmates' standing in prison society and the respect bestowed on them may largely depend upon others' perceptions of them being a 'tough cookie' (Sykes, 2007, p.78). When each member of this society is aiming for the prestige of a reputation of toughness and the defence of this current position in the hierarchy, one is never 'safe' (Sykes, 2007, p78).Newton argues that prison generates hyper-masculinity in that men are unable to assert their masculine status and therefore seek to exaggerate their 'self' to the stereotypes expected of them (1994 in Crewe, 2007, p139). The reassertion of power by rape is argued by Scacco to be the epitome of this situation (1975, in Crewe, 2007, p13) in that the rape victim is 'irrevocably stigmatized and emasculated' and expected to carry out 'female' duties such as housekeeping (Crewe , 2007, p.`139).

One coping strategy for a loss of security may be isolation (Toch, 1992, p.48). Sex offenders, particularly against children, are liable for attack in prison and may therefore seek to be moved to a vulnerable prisoner unit (Davies, Croall, Tyrer, 2005, p.388). Toch outlines that in order to seek isolation, a prisoner may self-harm to reaffirm their need to be moved, even temporarily, away from a situation (Toch, 1992, p.55-56). However women appear to seek isolation less as a means of coping and prefer to keep busy and not be alone. 'Sharon' commented that whilst serving her sentence at the same time as Myra Hindley, Hindley had suffered physical attacks and 'pastings' but she remained social and would offer advice to her fellow inmates when needed (Padel and Stevenson, 1988, p.105). Male prisoners on remand are less likely than women on remand to attempt suicide if their cell is solitary where 25% of men and 72% of women in a solitary cell attempted suicide (Office for National Statistics 1999). The difference in sentenced prisoners is less pronounced with 58% of male prisoners and 62% of female prisoners who lived in solitary cells attempting suicide (Office for National Statistics 1999).

Women appear to develop more constructive coping strategies than men in that they form a support network. Medlicott argues that similarly, women tend not to take part in collective indiscipline such as rioting (2007, p.255) yet they are twice as likely as men to commit disciplinary offences; argued by Carlen and Worrall to be a result of more petty discipline in women's prisons, that the pains of imprisonment affect women greater than men or a combination of the two (2004, p.54). Crewe argues that when social bonds are difficult to establish, the body is used to show resistance whether as 'representation' by forms of dress or as an object of 'desecration or destruction' by 'dirty protests' or self harm (2007, p.133). Given that the evidence suggests that women place a greater importance on social ties, it is unsurprising that statistics show that women are also more likely than men to participate in destructive coping strategies such as suicide and self-harm. Self reporting studies have shown that 37% of women in prison have attempted suicide (Office for National Statistics , 1999) and the ratio of self-inflicted deaths per 1000 of the prison population was higher in women's prisons at 2.09 in comparison with 1.28 in men's prisons (Home Office, 2003). Reports on suicide rates in remand prisoners suggest suicide attempts prior to imprisonment are over 25% in men and over 50% in women and these individuals were lacking in a social support system (Office for National Statistics, 1999). This indicates that a support structure is important in women's coping strategies both inside and outside prison. This may signify that if women do not conform and adapt to the gender stereotypes encouraged by prisons of passivity and femininity, they move towards the more masculine traits of violence and aggression, fail to cope with their surroundings and are more likely to attempt suicide. Becoming hyper-feminine could therefore be argued to be a coping strategy of adaptation.

A key coping strategy for women is that of 'defensive apathy' (Casale, 1989, p.63) in that they deliberately avoid potentially difficult situations and withdraw from affective contact. Such coping strategies were observed in women who chose not to see their partners so as not to upset themselves, those who later chose not to bring their children into prison and would not speak of their reasoning where previously they had willingly offered information and the 'blocking out' of the given instructions and noise in the prison. Crewe argues a similar conditioning occurs in male prisons and such responses are a means of gaining control; as 'Interviewee 53' stated, 'the only way to manipulate [is to] show courtesy, show kindness, show reform' (Crewe, 2007, p.267). Prisoners appear to adopt the rules of the prison and have been mortified by their surroundings. For all the humouring of the guards and wishing them a 'safe journey home', 'Interviewee 59' 'couldn't care less if they have a crash' and may call the guard by obscene names behind his back (Crewe, 2007, p.272). In this way, both men and women show a similar coping strategy to the loss of autonomy in that they perform to the rules as best as they can to avoid difficult situations.

Alongside defensive apathy is the actual abiding by the set rules of the institution. Although the rules may be subjectively applied and difficult to understand; by following the rules, the pressures and pains of imprisonment may be alleviated. The Incentives and Earned Privileges scheme was implemented in 1995 to offer a 'sticks and carrots' (Liebling, 2004, p.30 in Crewe, 2007, p.258) regime whereby good behaviour would offer a system of rewards including an in-cell television, more visits and greater private spending (Crewe, 2007, p.258). In this way, prisoners can alleviate the loss of goods and services by the ability to furnish their cell and buy more goods. They can also ease the loss of liberty to see their friends and family by enjoying more visits. The 'good' inmate was described by Heffernan as following the rules, regulations and routines of the institution; gentle voiced, not using bad language and neatly dressed (Heffernan, 1972, p.63) in attempts to make her stay in prison easier and shorter (Heffernan, 1972, p.64). Arguably therefore, a key coping strategy in women's prisons is to be the 'square' and obey the rules strictly, or the 'cool' and appear to follow the rules in comparison to the 'life' who disobeys the rules and experiences the 'pains' on a deeper level as their losses in liberty and goods and services continue to grow (Heffernan, 1972, p.42).Similar subcultures, or social groups, have been found in men's prisons by Irwin and Cressey (1962 p.153 in Crewe, 2007, p128); the 'thief culture' emphasised reliability and loyalty to other prisoners; the 'convict subculture' were more individualistic and manipulative; and the 'straight' culture castigated criminal values and conformed to the rules of the institution. However women's subcultures are more entrenched in social bonds than merely the extent to which they abide by the rules.


Despite their release from prison, the 'pains of imprisonment may continue to cause difficulties to the prisoners. The aforementioned 'pain' of loss of liberty would appear to be resolved on release from prison however during the period of the inmate's incarceration, the neglect of the practical and domestic elements of their lives on the outside can lead to further problems. Of the women Casale studied, she found women frequently left prison in rent arrears, potentially having lost their property to landlords in lieu of rent, and many were either homeless having been evicted or were under the imminent threat of eviction. Owing to their loss of liberty the women were prevented them receiving mail in time and were unable to make telephone calls to address the problems whilst in prison (Casale, 1989, p.71).

The lack of goods and services in prison extends to a loss in appropriate health facilities. Cheryl, for example found the health system in prison to be 'lacking' in that 'they want to give you anti-depressant[s] for everything' and had since had thirteen surgeries upon release to correct the ongoing health problems which were neglected in prison (Shantz and Frignon, 2009, p.8). Similarly, she suffered from cataracts in prison but was told they were 'no big deal' and would be dealt with when she left , only to undergo two major surgeries as she was going blind in one eye (Shantz and Frignon, 2009, p.8). In such ways, the deprivation of the service of healthcare compounded the ill-health of the prisoner and directly impacted on the prisoner's life following release. Shantz and Frigon argue there is a link between the ill-health of released prisoners and their recidivism in that for the difficulties of their ill-health, this is expressed in petty theft of items which are 'symbolic of the way that they're feeling' to 'regain some aspect of control in their lives' (2009, p.8-9). However, women are more often subject to shorter sentences thus where medical drugs rehabilitative care is required, the length of time needed to administer the level of care needed is reduced (Social Exclusion Unit, 2002, in Medlicott, 2007 p248) producing an 'intractable cycle of offending' (Medlicott, 2007, p.248). To combat this, upon release the former inmate would require extensive access to rehabilitative care to compensate for their lack of care within prison. Conversely, it has been argued that should a prison doctor withhold prescribed narcotics from prisoners he will be seen as being overly punitive, but to continue prescribing he will be accused of drugging women for penal control (O'Dwyer and Carlen, 1985, p.165 in Carlen and Worrall, 2004, p57).


As shown by the evidence, Sykes' concepts of the pains of imprisonment remain relevant in the prison system to this day. Both men and women are likely to experience the pains of imprisonment; however evidence suggests that women experience more pains of imprisonment because of gender specific situations such as increased hygiene needs and domestic needs including child care on the outside. Women are also, therefore, more likely to find it difficult to cope with the pains of imprisonment as outlined by the radical difference in suicide statistics between men and women.

The impact on masculinity, outlined by Sykes in his study on male prisoners, is not dissimilar from the impact on femininity in female prisoners. Femininity may be heightened as a result of conformity with the gender stereotyping policy of the prison and ultimately with the requirements of society however a move towards more masculine traits may be a result of the pains of imprisonment with regards to violent behaviour, including suicide, and attempts to defy the rules imposed.

Owing to the gender stereotypes enforced by societal and criminal justice values, research into the impact this has on the perceived 'femininity' of the female prisoner would benefit from detailed ethnographic research into the opinions of women prisoners as the label is so subjectively applied. Moreover, the impact of engendered labels may not have been a conscious line of questioning or research in previous enquiries.