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After online research in various online journals on different topics, I settled on one whose title is: Identity Construction, Self Perceptions, and Criminal Behavior of Incarcerated Women. An article on sociological behavior displayed by particular subjects; incarcerated women. This article was retrieved from Deviant Behavior online journal in a website titled informaworld owned by the Taylor and Francis group that is basically involved in psychology research and press. The article was published in the 31st volume of the journal, the 8th issue, on November the year 2010. The article is on page 704-728 (Alarid, Leanne and Vega 704-728).
There are three authors who contributed to the writing of this article namely Alarid, Leanne Fiftal and Vega as provide in the citation guide of the article. The three authors are affiliated to the University of Texas-San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, in United States of America. Other than the affiliation to the university, there is no other actual information about them but they mention about works of research they have done with other authors through the article. It is from this that I deduce that they are also psychologists or at least involved in psychology work. The nexus of writing this article was basically for research purpose to try and understand human psychology specifically the self perception of different people in certain conditions. The research aimed at finding out if past occurrences in certain individuals influenced in any way how those individuals acted in the future. It is on this that the implications of the findings were discussed.
Prior to conducting their research, the authors considered research conducted on mainly two areas; social psychology identity status research and criminology identity status research. The basis of these two is that identity status formation is the core to definition of an individual. Identity status can be referred to as personal or social identity. These two however, can be explained separately, personal identity to mean what differentiate one from the other for example personal traits and social identity as an individual’s chosen place in a group (Rayner 18). The following research was then based on the foundation of these two.
Every research mandatorily has to have a methodology. For this study, data was gathered from subject interviews of women offenders who were convicted or sentenced for felony offences and locked away in residential boot camp facilities and penitentiaries. The subjects were either victims of current convictions or prior histories. All convicted women were eligible for prison; however, an alternative was given to those that were at an age bracket of 18 and 28 years old. The research period lasted 3 months and a follow up of 24 months after of intensive supervision probation. Of the subjects used in the research, 50% were sentenced to boot camp. Also part of the program was face to face interviews in which interviews were conducted to a total of 104 women over a period of 14 months. The interview was controlled under strict control conditions. Support information on the word of the subjects was provided by the official reports and records from police (Alarid, Leanne and Vega 704-728).
The findings of the research were categorized under three sub-categories: Personal Identity, Social Identity and Relationships Central to Identity. Under personal identity, a majority of 58.3% had positive personal identities while a substantial % held mixed views concerning their identity and 14% had negative personal identity. However, among those that had positive personal identities, this perception was not strong since this was because they used light positive descriptors like good rather than for example, intelligent, respected and honest. On the negative identities, they seemed convinced that they were outcasts and they deserved what they got. The intermediates believed they had a good and bad side to them. Under social identity, it was perception of friends towards the women that defined them. Two themes emerged from the findings.
Self perception on how peers viewed a subject was dependent on age of the respondent compared to her peers. In the sample, 68% were of a younger age than the other percentage. It was found that older groups were more outgoing and open compared to the younger who felt oppressed and taken advantage of. On relationships central to identity, a significant variable arrived at was race or ethnicity. White women were more likely to define themselves as criminals in comparison to their counter, non-white. Conclusively, Self- Perception depended at the point of life of the women. Those who were serving time for their first felony did not view themselves as criminals regardless of having committed a felony.
Those that had prior convictions tended to describe themselves as criminals, this could be due to the stigmatization of prior sentencing. Age also seemed to be a factor with regard to first felony. Those whose first felony occurred later in life seemed convinced that it was maybe due to a mistake but they were not criminals. Those that were convicted at an early age were accustomed to the title. Also, women who viewed themselves in more legitimate terms like being mothers or other social responsibilities seemed to view their primary groups as non-criminals. The future implication of this is its implication to the correctional facilities. If correction is really the aim, the offenders need to be shown this aspect rather than the incarceration aspect (Alarid, Leanne and Vega 704-728).
I personally think how one perceives oneself is only a state of mind and is subject to change. This research is helpful since it helps point to the causative factors of perception in regard to identity. It would have been more helpful had it been accompanied by recommendations to overturn those identities that are negative for obvious reasons. As pinpointed by its review, lack of a comparison group different from that of convicted felons is a big impediment. I disagree with this comment considering this was research for a particular group as the title depicts. However, since scientific data to be acceptable has to be replicated, there is need to carry the same research on replicated locations or facilities for it to provide conclusive results. I also agree with the criticism that prior experiences to conviction could be a cause of that deduced or observed identity.
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