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Prison Diaries:A Qualitative Study on Life-Term Prisoners


Affiliations
1 University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India
2 Department of Psychology, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India
     

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This qualitative study seeks to uncover and understand the life-term prisoners' perspectives of living as inmates in Correctional homes. It attempts to explore the experiences of sufferings and coping of prisoners in the light of threat to self being incarcerated, adjusting to challenges, interpersonal relationships, outlook towards future and death. Structured interviews were conducted with ten life-term prisoners, five male and five female, of two Correctional homes in Kolkata, having age range of 35-45 years. This was followed by a feedback session. Data analysis was done following Grounded Theory methodology. The findings reflected predominant helplessness, loss of dignity, suicidal ideation, feelings of shame and dejection on the one hand, while on the other maintaining faith in the Supreme power and hope, an urge to revenge, aggression towards others, high self-esteem and a will to fight back. An empty space created by separation from family is balanced by need for belongingness in prison-groups for support. Interpersonal relationships are mostly characterized by deception, exploitation and violence. Ambivalence towards future is revealed. Fear of death and relating it to divinity has been mostly noticed. The study shows that mental health problems posed by challenges of prison life need to be addressed adequately by building up forensic mental health support systems.

Keywords

Prisoners, Suffering, Hope, Coping, Aggression.
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  • Prison Diaries:A Qualitative Study on Life-Term Prisoners

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Authors

Priyanka Podder
University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India
Souvik Raychaudhuri
Department of Psychology, University of Calcutta, Kolkata, India

Abstract


This qualitative study seeks to uncover and understand the life-term prisoners' perspectives of living as inmates in Correctional homes. It attempts to explore the experiences of sufferings and coping of prisoners in the light of threat to self being incarcerated, adjusting to challenges, interpersonal relationships, outlook towards future and death. Structured interviews were conducted with ten life-term prisoners, five male and five female, of two Correctional homes in Kolkata, having age range of 35-45 years. This was followed by a feedback session. Data analysis was done following Grounded Theory methodology. The findings reflected predominant helplessness, loss of dignity, suicidal ideation, feelings of shame and dejection on the one hand, while on the other maintaining faith in the Supreme power and hope, an urge to revenge, aggression towards others, high self-esteem and a will to fight back. An empty space created by separation from family is balanced by need for belongingness in prison-groups for support. Interpersonal relationships are mostly characterized by deception, exploitation and violence. Ambivalence towards future is revealed. Fear of death and relating it to divinity has been mostly noticed. The study shows that mental health problems posed by challenges of prison life need to be addressed adequately by building up forensic mental health support systems.

Keywords


Prisoners, Suffering, Hope, Coping, Aggression.