the criminology and criminal justice network
"Self-injurious behaviors are alarmingly prevalent in the criminal justice system. The Department of Justice reports that over 15% of state prisoners report a suicide attempt in the past year, and between 10 and 30% of prisoners report a history of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI). The purpose of this study was to investigate neuropsychological functioning (including the domains of intelligence, executive functioning, memory, attention, and motor functioning) in adult male prisoners with and without histories of self-injurious behaviors. Our sample consisted of 173 male prisoners referred for neuropsychological evaluation. Nearly half of participants reported a history of attempted suicide. Nearly 30% of prisoners in this study reported a history of NSSI, and the majority of prisoners with an NSSI history also reported a past suicide attempt. Contrary to our hypothesis, we did not find group differences among those with NSSI, NSSI and suicide attempts, and no history of self-injury on tests of neuropsychological functioning. However, performance was poor on all neuropsychological domains; scores were between one and two standard deviations below the mean on all tests of intelligence, executive functioning, memory, attention, and motor functioning. These findings have important implications for the criminal justice system. Given the high prevalence of attempted suicide in our sample, this study emphasizes the importance and necessity of suicide prevention and intervention efforts. However, prisoners’ poor neuropsychological functioning may lead to difficulties understanding and attending to complex concepts, and deficits in executive functioning may impair learning and behavior change. Those referred for clinical services may have difficulty attending to, understanding, and remembering the complex concepts involved in many prevention and treatment programs. Intervention and prevention programs for suicide and NSSI that are developed or modified to address patients’ cognitive weaknesses may demonstrate increased success at preventing self-injurious behaviors."
- Peggy Andover, regarding "Neuropsychological functioning in prisoners with histories of suici... co-authored with Heather T. Schatten, Donna M. Crossman, and Peter J. Donovick, and published in the November 2011 issue of Criminal Justice & Behavior.
I cannot believe we are still having discussions about self harm in prisons without reference to Alison Liebling's work - for eg "Prisons and their moral management" ( 2004).
Surely individualistic explanations are insufficient when it is clear that the environment of the prison has such a dramatic effect on how prisoners feel. Come on criminologists, let's broaden this discussion! And I agree with Ramona!
Interesting. Alison Liebling's findings are general and global. I saw a report on a Kenyan prison where female prisoners died because of AIDS placed together with healthy others, and also female prisoners were raped by male prisoners or prison guards and gave births to children in the prisons after years spent in there. Somehow I think that self harm rate in that prison was not so high.