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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2017  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 128-131

Prison types and inmates' psychosocial profiles: A comparison between medium and maximum security prison

1 Department of Medical Services, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Kaduna, Nigeria
2 Department of Psychiatry, Forensic Unit, University of Jos Teaching Hospital, Jos, Nigeria
3 Department of Psychiatry, Federal Medical Center, Bida, Nigeria
4 Department of Psychiatry, University of Calabar Teaching Hospital, University of Calabar, Calabar, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication29-Sep-2017

Correspondence Address:
Tajudeen Abiola
Medical Services Unit, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Kaduna
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfsm.jfsm_47_17

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Studies on the impacts the type of prison's environment had on the psychosocial well-being of their inmates were few. To contribute more study on this, the current study explored the psychosocial health profiles of inmates and the type of prison environment by comparing inmates' psychosocial profiles of a medium security prison to a maximum security correctional facility located in north central Nigeria. Participants were male inmates of medium security prison located in Bida, Niger-State and Jos maximum security facility in Plateau-State. All the participants filled the study instruments (i.e., a sociodemographic questionnaire, the ten-item personality inventory, resilience scale, and Oslo Social Support Scale) after obtaining informed consent from them. There was a significant positive association of prison types with resilience and social support which was reversed for spirituality. The multivariate analysis showed that inmates of medium security prison had significantly higher resilience and social support scores compared to those in maximum security correctional facilities. There was no difference in the five dimensions of personality among the inmates and in their experience of spirituality. The findings add to extant knowledge on the impact that the level of “indigenous” deprivations had on inmates psychosocial wellness factors. The study hence advocated to the department of correctional services to modify the indigenous measures that promote resilience and social support without compromising security.

Keywords: Inmates' psychosocial profile, personality traits, prisons' types, resilience social support, spirituality

How to cite this article:
Abiola T, Armiyau AY, Adepoju L, Udofia O. Prison types and inmates' psychosocial profiles: A comparison between medium and maximum security prison. J Forensic Sci Med 2017;3:128-31

How to cite this URL:
Abiola T, Armiyau AY, Adepoju L, Udofia O. Prison types and inmates' psychosocial profiles: A comparison between medium and maximum security prison. J Forensic Sci Med [serial online] 2017 [cited 2023 Feb 8];3:128-31. Available from: https://www.jfsmonline.com/text.asp?2017/3/3/128/215812

  Introduction Top

The three modern purposes of imprisonment are punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation.[1] All these objectives embraced psychosocial well-being in their pursuit. This perhaps may explain why about half or more of all the factors considered in determining inmates' placement into any type of correctional facility included their psychosocial profile of wellness or otherwise.[2] The attention placed on psychosocial (un) wellness is to facilitate adjustment to the prison's environment and its purposes. Two factors identified in literature to influence imprisonment adjustment were prisons' indigenous characteristics, and inmates imported variables.[3] The former factor is the degree of deprivation imposed from the descriptive grading of prisons as minimum, medium, or maximum security, and the latter was related to the inmates' preprison features such as age, educational level attained, employment status, availability of social support, drug abusing habit, and personality traits. While the prisons' grade appeared immutable to change, the inmates' preprison condition is often amenable and can be improved on.

Despite the modifiability of inmates' personal features and the emphasis on their psychosocial health profiles, it is the nature of the offense that serves as the main determinant of placement into any of the different prisons' types. After placement comes adjustment with consequent psychosocial (un)wellness based on degree of prison's “indigenous” deprivation.[3] In this respect, a study reported more suicide rate in high-security prisons compared to low-security correctional facilities.[4] This reechoed the impacts the type of prison environment, and the associated context had on the psychosocial well-being of the inmates. To contribute more study on the psychosocial health profiles of inmates and the type of prisons' environment, this study compared inmates' psychosocial health profiles of a medium security prison to a maximum security correctional facility both located in north central Nigeria.

  Methodology Top

Study participants and procedures

Participants were male inmates of two prisons located in North Central Nigeria. The first was a medium security prison located in Bida, Niger-State and the second, situated in Jos, Plateau-State was a maximum security facility. All the participants filled the study instruments after obtaining informed consent from them.

Study instruments

The study instruments consist of self-developed sociodemographic questionnaire, the ten-item personality inventory (TIPI), resilience scale (RS), Oslo Social Support Scale (OSS), and spirituality involvement and belief scale-brief.

The ten-item personality inventory

This TIPI has two descriptors for each item representing a pole of each of the five-factor personality dimensions of extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, emotional stability, and openness to new experience. Each item on the TIPI is measured on a 7-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (disagree strongly) to 7 (agree strongly).[5] The TIPI takes a minute to complete [6] and had good psychometric properties compared with the dimensions of the longer versions of the five-factor model and other measures such as anxiety, depression, and vulnerability to stress.[5],[6] The TIPI has also been used in Nigeria and translated into Hausa, one of the main languages in Nigeria.[7]

Resilience scale

RS is a 25-item measure of psychological resilience which as a personal trait help individuals experience less harm from difficult challenges and bring about good functioning thereafter. RS has good validity and reliability (Cronbach's α range of 0.72–0.94) from several studies [8],[9],[10] and it is scored on a Likert scale of 1–7 grouping respondents total scores into low, moderate, or high resilience. In this study, the RS was used to report the trait resilience of the participants, by categorizing them into high or low resilience characteristics as designated by the originator of this measuring scale.

Oslo Social Support Scale

The brief OSS-3 measures social functioning as a good predictor of mental health.[11] It measures both the structural and functional aspects of social support by reporting the number of people the respondent feels close to, the interest and concern shown by others, and the ease of obtaining practical help from others.[12] Its brevity and normative data are the strength of this measure over its less documented reliability (Cronbach's alpha of 0.58–0.60).[11],[12],[13]

Spiritual Involvement and Beliefs Scale-Revised

The short and revised version of the 39-item Spiritual Involvement and Beliefs Scale (SIBS), is a 22-item instrument that measures various areas of spirituality such as meaning, beliefs, acceptance, values, hope, fulfillment, gratitude, meditation, prayer, joy, love, relationship (health-wise and interpersonally), connection to nature, service, spiritual experiences and writings, serenity, and spiritual growth.[14] This short and revised version (SIBS-Revised [SIBS-R]) had four factorially described subscales of core spirituality (i.e., the experience of connectedness to one's life purpose), spiritual perspective (i.e., existential depth), spiritual humility (i.e., personal application of spirituality), and spiritual insight (i.e., reflective acceptance of what cannot be changed). SIBS-R has been used by other researchers and found to have good reliability (alpha = 0.83–0.92).[15] The SIBS-R sum scale concurrent validity with the five religiosity portions of Duke Religiosity Scale from a pooled group ranged from 0.66-0.80.[16] The Cronbach's alpha for this study was 0.49.

Data analysis

Descriptive statistics was used to show the frequency distributions of participants' sociodemographic and psychological variables. Pearson's moment correlation coefficients were used to demonstrate the relationship between prison types and psychosocial variables of personality traits, experience of spirituality, trait resilience, and characteristics of available social support. A MANOVA was carried out to determine the difference between the prison types (maximum vs. medium), and participants pooled psychosocial variables. All statistical analysis was two-tailed at an alpha level of <0.05 except for the violations of Levene's test of equality evaluated at the level of <0.01.

  Results Top

As shown in [Table 1], the overall mean age of participants was 28.33 years (standard deviation = 1.37). The majority of participants in the medium security prison (92.98%) were <35 years of age while those in the maximum security facility (68.75%) were more than 35-year-old. This observation was statistically significant (χ2 = 34.84; P< 0.01). There was no statistical difference in the religious and marital status of participants in both prisons.
Table 1: Sociodemographic characteristics of participants

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The type of prison is reversely correlated with three of the five personality dimensions (i.e., extraversion, conscientiousness, and openness to experience) and spirituality and positively correlated with the remaining two personality dimensions (i.e., agreeableness and emotional stability), resilience characteristics and level of social support. These correlations were significant for spirituality, resilience, and social support [Table 2].
Table 2: Pearson's moment correlation coefficients of inmates' psychosocial variables with types of prison

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The MANOVA analysis showed a significant difference between the type of imprisonment's deprivation (maximum vs. medium security measures) on the participants when considered jointly on their psychosocial variables (personality dimensions, spirituality, resilience, and social support), Wilk's Lamda = 0.445, F(8,80) = 12.457, P< 0.01 and partial η̃2 = 0.56. A separate ANOVA was conducted for each dependent variable with each ANOVA evaluated at an alpha level of 0.006 (i.e., 0.05/8). There was a significant difference between the medium and maximum prisons' deprivation characteristics of participants on two of the eight components of psychosocial profiles of inmates measured: resilience F(1,87) = 48.93, P< 0.001 and partial η̃2 = 0.36 and social support F(1,87) = 30.39, P< 0.001 and partial η̃2 = 0.26. There was not a significant difference between the medium and maximum prisons' deprivation characteristics of the participants on the remaining psychosocial profiles measured in this study: extraversion F(1,87) = 0.01, P= 0.919 and partial η̃2 = 0.00; agreeableness F(1,87) = 1.53, P= 0.220 and partial η̃2 = 0.02; conscientiousness F(1,87) = 0.005, P= 0.946 and partial η̃2 = 0.00; emotional stability F(1,87) = 0.218, P= 0.642 and partial η̃2 = 0.00; openness to experience F(1,87) = 0.553, P= 0.459 and partial η̃2 = 0.01; and spirituality F(1,87) = 6.834, P= 0.073 and partial η̃2 = 0.07. [Table 3] shows that participants in medium security prison had better resilience and social support characteristics.
Table 3: Means of psychosocial profiles according to the type of imprisonment

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  Discussion Top

This study aimed to add to existing studies on the psychosocial health profiles of inmates as impacted by the degree of correctional facilities' deprivations according to the imprisonment's security grade. This study found that inmates in medium security prison had higher resilience and social support scores compared to those in maximum correctional facility. This seemed to reechoed the reported elevated suicide rate in high-security prisons compared to low correctional facilities.[4] Hence, this study finding appeared to be offering an explanation that the elevated suicide rate in high-security prison might be due to their low resilience profile and poor social support characteristics. This is because suicide might not only an indicator of violence leading to unnatural death but might also be an indicator of poor mental health functioning which can be attributed to low resilience and social support. Even though this study did not measure suicide among the study participants, the above explanations seemed a plausible theory.

That the personality traits of participants and their experience of spirituality were not significantly affected by the type of prisons' environments did suggest that correctional facilities' security grade had no impact on some of the inmates' imported psychosocial health variables. The observations in term of personality may be because of the traits measured that did not include specifically psychopathy and other criminogenic traits. However, the inverse relationship of the place of imprisonment with conscientious did make a slight effort in the impact of inmates' criminogenic traits. We hoped that subsequent studies will take these into consideration.

Spirituality even though was higher among inmates in maximum security prison compared to the medium correctional facility was not statistically significant after the multivariate analysis. We speculated that the expected role of spirituality to offer better coping and hence more well-being to inmates in maximum security prison compared to those in medium security facility may not be adaptive enough to modify their guilt, channel new path in life for them and transform their sense of loss of freedom [17] to wellness gain might be faulty. Hence, the study pointed to the need to enrich the spiritual experiences of all inmates to help facilitate the expected adaptive coping and speculative consequent growth in subjective wellness. A prospective investigation of this should offer a procedural way(s) of achieving it.

This study was also limited by being cross-sectional in nature hereby preventing generalization of results finding to prisons outside the region of study. Hence, studies from other regions of Nigeria should be carried out to allow for comparison and possible generalization of results finding. Moreover, such future studies should preferable be longitudinal in nature. Despite the limitations, our study is the first in Nigeria to explore the impact of prisons' types on the psychosocial wellness of inmates.

  Conclusion Top

The present study findings add to extant knowledge on the impact that the level of imprisonment “indigenous” deprivations had on inmates psychosocial wellness variables. Our result showed that resilience and social support were two of the eight variables tested that were significantly related to inmates wellness and this was in favour of medium security prison. The study hence advocated to the department of correctional services to modify the indigenous measures that promote resilience and social support without compromising prison's security. These should guide ongoing effort to reform imprisonment toward achieving its core three mandate of punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation especially in high-security prisons with low resilience and poor social support.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

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Dhami MK, Ayton P, Loewenstein G. Adaptation to imprisonment: Indigenous or imported? Crim Justice Behav 2007;34:1085-100.  Back to cited text no. 3
Dye MH. Deprivation, importation, and prison suicide: Combined effects of institutional conditions and inmate composition. J Crim Justice 2010;38:796-806.  Back to cited text no. 4
Bunevicius A, Katkute A, Bunevicius R. Symptoms of anxiety and depression in medical students and in humanities students: Relationship with big-five personality dimensions and vulnerability to stress. Int J Soc Psychiatry 2008;54:494-501.  Back to cited text no. 5
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Abiola T, Udofia O. Validation of the Hausa version of the brief five-factor model domains in Kano. Preseted at the 42nd Scientific Conference and Annual General Meeting of the Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria, Markudi; 2011.  Back to cited text no. 7
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Wagnild GM. The Resilience Scale User's Guide for the US English Version of the Resilience Scale and the 14-Item Resilience Scale; 2009.  Back to cited text no. 9
Abiola T, Udofia O. Psychometric assessment of the wagnild and young's resilience scale in Kano, Nigeria. BMC Res Notes 2011;4:509.  Back to cited text no. 10
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Parkinson J, editor. Review of Scales of Positive Mental Health Validated for use with Adults in the UK: Technical Report. Health Scotland, a WHO Collaborating Centre for Health Promotion and Public Health Development; 2007.  Back to cited text no. 12
Abiola T, Udofia O, Zakari M. Psychometric properties of the 3-item oslo social supoort scale among clinical students of Bayero University Kano, Nigeria. Malays J Psychiatry 2013;22:32-41.  Back to cited text no. 13
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Hatch RL. Personal Communication. 12th March, 2014.  Back to cited text no. 16
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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]


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