The Psychological Impacts of Incarceration
"Few people are completely unchanged or unscathed by the [prison] experience" - Craig Haney, social psychologist and researcher on the Stanford Prison experiment.
A recent research project at the Institute of Criminology at the University of Cambridge, in which hundreds of prisoners were interviewed, concluded that being in prison “changes people to the core." Studies have shown again and again that environment in prisons has a huge impact, and of course, the longer people are incarcerated, the greater the impact of this environment may have.
Dr Christian Jarrett, editor of the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog, found that “longer and harsher prison sentences can mean that prisoners' personalities will be changed in a way that makes their reintegration difficult." The impact of the restricted and confined environment, of feeling socially threatened, of lacking opportunities of free choice and privacy lead to problems in adulthood that are hard to overcome once released, and without the right support, become even more insurmountable.
Researchers in the UK have described prison as a place of “emotional numbing", becoming detached and lacking feelings for anyone. Trials carried out in 2015 already showed that both short and long sentences have an impact on personality and behaviour. These tests involved interviewing inmates who were serving an average of 19 years in prison. Inmates admitted that distrust, difficult relationships with other inmates and surviving in a hostile environment became increasingly ingrained into their daily behaviours.
It is widely accepted that ongoing and repetitive actions can induce behavioural patterns in people, making it difficult to change after years. There is a recognition among criminologists, researchers and psychologists that this contributes towards a paranoia that upon leaving prison can result in post-incarceration syndrome, making ex-prisoner's re-entry into society particularly difficult.
A person's life in prison, their daily routine, their experiences, the activities and opportunities they have access to and the prison environment must all be considered when thinking about the impact of incarceration on the individual. The Twelfth Report of Session 2017-2019 by the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee highlights a wide range of problems to be addressed. The report mentions that overcrowding, lack of personal space and several counts throughout the day induces stress in prisoners and staff, that living conditions and sanitation are poor with hot water often unavailable. In addition, the report states the quality of food is often inadequate and the growing population of rats make the risk of disease a real problem (not to mention the trauma this might cause). Clearly the risks associated with the lack of privacy, hygiene and anxiety make a significant impact on how an inmate feels both emotionally and physically.
While the end of a prison sentence brings the experience of this environment to a close (hopefully forever) the challenge of re-adjusting to life outside begins. They now have a new set of problems to face: the uncertainties of housing, finding work, re-building relationships accessing the services they need present a host of practical and emotional problems those being released from prisons must confront as they continue to process the psychological impacts of their prison sentence.
Challenge 2019 - The Royal Windsor Triathlon - 16th June
We are getting ready for this Sunday 16th June. Have you heard? We have created an incredibly committed team that will take part in the Triathlon and will swim, cycle and run in support of our work at The Reasons Why Foundation.
If you would like to help our foundation and donate, you can find the entrants below with links to their Fundraising pages. A contribution, however big or small is welcomed and much appreciated!
This year's 'Challenge Team' is made up of staff, volunteers, board members, donors, mentors and supporters and their dedication to this event and our work is highly admirable and hugely beneficial to our service users. Therefore, from all the team at the foundation we would like to share a special mention to each of them. All of whom are taking part in this experience, please share with friends and on social media to increase the reach of our work. We are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Chris decided to take part in the Royal Windsor Triathlon after a busy Christmas full of food and memories. We are grateful to Chris taking part in all three disciplines, swimming 750m, cycling 20km and running 5km. Thank you!
Nathan and Ella
Nathan and Ella will be sharing the triathlon: Nathan will be completing the cycle and run, and Ella is taking part in the swim. The team at The RWF is looking forward to your participation. Thank you!
Kerrie was one of our first mentors at The RWF and is now offering her support by participating in the Olympic Triathlon. Thank you, Kerrie!
Kathryn admitted: “I'm not very good at running, cycling, or swimming, but I'm doing all three in the Royal Windsor Triathlon because I believe in the work that The RWF does supporting ex-offenders”. Thank you, Kathryn, we believe in you!
Carl, Ian and Austin
Meet Team C.I.A. We know they have been training hard and sweating their way to make a good impression on the day! They have also raised and incredible donation of over one thousand pounds! Thank you for your help!
Charles, Sam and Sam
The team represented by Charles has been doing great efforts during their training and previous preparation for this event. They've now raised over seven hundred pounds. Thank you for embarking in this experience with us!
Florence will be taking the Swim part of the Triathlon. She has openly said how much her muscles are hurting from her weekly intensive training and is encouraging everyone to support her and make a donation in support of our work. Thank you, Florence!
Hamish wants to contribute to society and the work of The RWF, so, he will be taking his first competitive event longer than 200m by committing himself to do 1.5km (Swim) + 40km (Cycle) + 10km (Run). Thank you, Hamish!
Jamie will be tackling his first Olympic Triathlon on Sunday 16th June for The RWF. He is ambitious and will be aiming to complete the task in 2hrs 30 mins.He has raised about nine hundred pounds for the foundation, and we will be looking forward to seeing him in action! Thank you!
We all know how adventurous she is but this year she has taken on her biggest challenge so far. She will be supporting The RWF with the rest of the team this Sunday. Thank you, Lizzy!
Mikkel said: “I am a firm believer that EVERYONE deserves a second chance. So, what am I doing about it? Well, I am mentoring offenders and now for the first time EVER I am doing a triathlon. Although I am doing the shorter distance, this will be a challenge considering how bad shape I am in.” Mikkel, we are thankful to have you mentoring and we are proud of your work and support. Thank you!
Olly has been running for a few years now. Sports have been a positive experience for him and now he would like to take it to the next level: he was part of the Brighton Marathon in April and now the Windsor Triathlon in June (running). Thank you, Olly!
Roger, as our Founder, will be ensuring the day goes well and is part of a relay team for his first ever Triathlon. Thank you, Roger, for being strong and encouraging others to take part in the Triathlon!
Sarah and Louise
They said: “Louise will be speedy on a bike across 40K - she needs to invest in a bike with more than one gear and pick up pace 500%. Sarah will be doing the 10K run - but hadn't run for over two years before starting training for this event. She will also do the mile swim - she has never swum more than a few lengths and certainly not in open water.” Thank you, for taking this so seriously and inspiring others!
Angelica has declared herself as not a “big fitness' person”. She is not much into running and even though she has recently been suffering with her asthma, she decided to push herself to overcome these personal hurdles for an inspiring cause.