Midwest Social Sciences Journal




The punitiveness of prisons is considered necessary for deterrence, but there is also a societal expectation that prisons will also rehabilitate. Scholars have examined whether prisons are ideal environments for rehabilitation from the perspective of the inmate, though this work largely focuses on measurement issues related to the scales used to measure offenders’ perceptions. The current research expands upon this by asking a sample of 154 incarcerated men from three different correctional facilities in the Midwestern United States what they think about their current correctional environment using the Prison Environment Scale (PES) and focusing on the answers provided by those incarcerated individuals. These results are presented descriptively, giving a voice to the incarcerated and their perceptions of the prison environment. Results from this exploratory study indicate incarcerated individuals feel negatively about the social and physical environment of prisons, noting the existence of hierarchies, possessions being used as currency, lack of physical space, and the lack of meaningful activities. Devising ways to promote a prosocial prison environment is important for effective rehabilitation, improved institutional conduct, and positive post-release outcomes.

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