For my research essay, I’ve decided to compare cultural stigma towards criminals in various regions to each region’s predominant prison archetype, analyzing each archetype’s effect on recidivism rates. The archetypes, which I’ve identified from a research paper comparing prison conditions in Israel, The Netherlands, and the US, are as follows:
High-Security, High Reform – These facilities are heavily guarded externally and allow prisoners relatively little privacy, but allow (and often require) prisoners to participate in reform programs such as GED courses and technically demanding work programs.
High-Security, Low Reform – These facilities are heavily guarded both externally and internally, and allow prisoners very little freedom or privacy, and have almost no meaningful reform programs or recreation.
Low-Security, High Reform – These facilities are lightly guarded, and allow prisoners a high level of privacy and comfort, with an abundance of reform programs and recreational facilities.
I am still in the process of researching this subject, but my preliminary findings are that regions with more cultural stigma against criminals, such as the American Southeast, are more likely to have high-security, low-reform prisons, which seem to lead to high rates of recidivism; in regions with moderate cultural stigma against criminals, such as the American Northwest, the high-security, high-reform model seems more prevalent – this model appears to result in the lowest rates of recidivism; in regions with very little cultural stigma against criminals, such as the Netherlands, the low-security, high-reform model seems prevalent. This model seems to result in the highest recidivism rates.
In my essay, I plan to provide statistics and examples to verify that, A) these regions do have the assumed level of cultural stigma against criminals, B) these archetypes are common to their corresponding region, and C) the recidivism rates in each region are influenced by the prison archetype used. I will also present my personal hypotheses as to why each archetypal prison has the effect that it does on recidivism rates. Overall, I hope to demonstrate that extreme levels of cultural stigma against criminals ultimately drive recidivism rates up through their effects on the styles of administration in prisons.