Welcome to the Prison Talk Online Community! Take a Minute and Sign Up Today!






Go Back   Prison Talk > FOR FAMILY & FRIENDS > General Prison Talk
Register Entertainment FAQ Calendar Mark Forums Read

General Prison Talk Does your issue not fit into another forum? Post it here. Find support, answers and assistance.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 12-28-2009, 02:22 PM
rupert81 rupert81 is offline
Registered User
 

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 155
Thanks: 124
Thanked 151 Times in 61 Posts
Default Prison experiments and university research projects

Many of you would have heard about the Stanford Prison Experiment from the 1970s, when a professor in California hired young men from stable, middle-class backgrounds to recreate a mock prison setting and live out the roles of inmates and correctional officers. The experiment ended quite badly and a few years ago Das Experiment, a German film, documented this.

But I was wondering: how would jails or prisons respond if a graduate student working on an MA or PhD in criminology or psychology asked to be processed into a jail or prison environment for one week, in order to experience prison life first hand for his dissertation? I would assume that only a few people at the prison (perhaps the warden) would be told of the "inmate's" real status, in order to ensure that he is treated exactly like any other prisoner.

I wonder if any prison or jail would be willing to cooperate in an academic project of this nature, especially considering the risks. Of course, the only way I could see something like this happening is if the student/researcher signed a waiver and agreement, noting that he absolves the prison or state from any liability. But do you think that any jail or prison would ever agree to something like this?
Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 12-28-2009, 04:17 PM
LeBeau's Avatar
LeBeau LeBeau is offline
Registered User
Donation Award 
 

Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Oregon,at last!
Posts: 19,141
Thanks: 6,615
Thanked 23,029 Times in 7,143 Posts
Default

I doubt it.
Most facilities guard their internal operations pretty closely and I'd be shocked if any agreed to such unfettered access.
The media are permitted extremely limited access even when the stated goal is documentary and that's probably granted because the facilities cannot completely ignore the press without serious backlash. An academic/scholarly effort probably could and would be refused on the excuse of institutional security.
__________________

In memory of Mrs. Dragoness

Speak your mind-
Even if your voice shakes

Specializing in pest control- Site Exterminator.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 12-28-2009, 04:25 PM
Daywalker Daywalker is offline
Banned
 

Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Posts: 3,021
Thanks: 1,905
Thanked 4,309 Times in 1,765 Posts
Default

I could not see this happening. Since these are heavily secured facilities, letting someone in for a week, under the guise of being a prisoner, would cause disruption to the system.

These guys pretty much trust no one, so someone coming in and leaving a week later, would definitely end with most of the inmates feeling betrayed. Additionally, someone not sentenced for a crime, is a security risk.

How would you propose to live among inmates as one of them, asking them to trust and accept you, knowing full well, the entire time, that you are just a researcher trying to complete your project. Most of these men would object heavily to being lied to and used as human guinea pigs in an experiment they were not advised of, nor gave their consent to participate in.

Most people do not consider that these men do have emotions. I think that playing with anyone's head, for the sake of research, is completely wrong, and especially wrong when you are doing it to a captive, non-consenting audience.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 12-28-2009, 04:32 PM
LeBeau's Avatar
LeBeau LeBeau is offline
Registered User
Donation Award 
 

Join Date: Apr 2005
Location: Oregon,at last!
Posts: 19,141
Thanks: 6,615
Thanked 23,029 Times in 7,143 Posts
Default

I was deliberately ignoring the ethical considerations in favor of just focusing on the question of whether it would be feasable, but I agree completely with Daywalker's post.
__________________

In memory of Mrs. Dragoness

Speak your mind-
Even if your voice shakes

Specializing in pest control- Site Exterminator.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 12-28-2009, 05:53 PM
rupert81 rupert81 is offline
Registered User
 

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 155
Thanks: 124
Thanked 151 Times in 61 Posts
Default

You're both right about the ethical questions and implications that such an experiment would raise. The only way to avoid this, perhaps, is to have an arrangement where the researcher's interaction with inmates is either minimal or altogether non-existent. For example, if the goal were to explore the impact of administrative segregation, the researcher would spend 23 hours a day alone in a cell, with little or no contact with any other inmate. But of course, there is still one ethical implication: the correctional officers would not be informed of the inmate's status so they would--unwittingly--be part of the experiment.

The big difference between an academic and journalistic project that explores the inside of a prison is the dissemination of the experiment's results. A media project would eventually become a tabloid piece aimed at sensationalism, while an academic project would result in a conference presentation attended by a few dozen scholars in the field and an essay in an academic journal read by no more than a few hundred students and professors.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 12-28-2009, 06:00 PM
jasmine29's Avatar
jasmine29 jasmine29 is offline
Registered User
 

Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Philly, PA
Posts: 453
Thanks: 289
Thanked 285 Times in 193 Posts
Default

I know this post was meant to determine the feasibility of such a study, but I have to ask: what kind of scientific value could such 'research' have? Let's presume that your example is permitted, and a researcher enters ad-seg for a week as an inmate. What would that even be studying? As far as I can tell, there's no control group. The researcher him/herself is the variable or test situation? That's not a study. No university IRB would even approve of that. The situation you describe is more akin to "gaining life experience" than "research."
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 12-28-2009, 06:41 PM
rupert81 rupert81 is offline
Registered User
 

Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Canada
Posts: 155
Thanks: 124
Thanked 151 Times in 61 Posts
Default

All valid points, jasmine. This could be a study on the extent of human agency in strictly controlled environments. I could see a study like this working if it happened to be a comparative project, which examined variations in ad seg from one state to another, or simply from one prison to another in a single state. The research question might be: how much agency do correctional officers enjoy over the lives of prisoners whose every move and activity is already heavily controlled and scripted by institutionalized rules? If the researcher examines several prisons in a single state, then the goal would be to determine how much of a difference correctional officers make in the grand scheme of things. Do they have the ability and willingness to question institutionalized regulations and practices for the benefit, or to the detriment of ad seg inmates? A comparative study between two states that have proportionally similar prison populations might explore whether state boundaries make a difference when it comes to human agency vis-a-vis institutionalized rules. In this case, I would arrange to have several students participate in the study at pre-selected locations, and the final product (essay/conference presentation) would be based upon their observations and responses to a standardized set of questions. In each case, they would be required to engage in a series of short, pre-determined exchanges with correctional officers, or to recreate specific situations/scenarios that test the agency of correctional officers in a seemingly heavily regulated, institutionalized environment.

Last edited by rupert81; 12-28-2009 at 06:43 PM..
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:53 PM.
Copyright © 2001- 2019 Prison Talk Online
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.4
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Website Design & Custom vBulletin Skins by: Relivo Media
Message Board Statistics