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Impact of Victimization in the Lives of Incarcerated Women in South Carolina, 2000-2002 (ICPSR 9418) RSS

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

This study examined victimization in the lives of incarcerated women, specifically victimization as a risk factor for crime, with particular emphasis on the direct and indirect ways in which the impact of victimization contributed to criminal involvement. Interviews were conducted with 60 women incarcerated in a maximum security state correctional facility in South Carolina from October 2001 to August 2002. Interview measures consisted of participant responses to loosely-structured open-ended prompts and addressed each woman's own perspective on psychological, physical, and sexual victimization within her life, as well as her history of family and peer relationships, alcohol and drug use, and criminal activity. The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) provided demographic and criminal history information for each prospective participant, including participants, no-shows, and decliners (Part 1) and for the female prison population without the prospective participants (Part 2). These data were used for sampling decisions and provide descriptive information on sample characteristics. In addition the SCDC provided inmate data on offenses committed while in the SCDC (Part 3), disciplinary actions at the SCDC (Part 4), education through the SCDC (Part 5), and known prior offenses (Part 6). The project also conducted online searches in NewsLibrary for media reports concerning women who participated in the study. Variables include age, race, number of children, marital status, criminal offense history, correctional disciplinary records, probation/parole information, victim/witness notification, corrections program participation, intelligence scores, math and reading scores, basic academic history/degrees, mental health assessment, and special medical needs.

Access Notes

  • One or more files in this study are not available for download due to special restrictions ; consult the restrictions note to learn more. You can apply online for access to the data. A login is required to apply for access.

    Access to these data is restricted. Users interested in obtaining these data must complete a Restricted Data Use Agreement, specify the reasons for the request, and obtain IRB approval or notice of exemption for their research.

Dataset(s)

DS0:  Study-Level Files
Documentation:
DS1:  Prospective Participant Data
Documentation:
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No downloadable data files available.
DS2:  Population Minus Participant Data
Documentation:
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No downloadable data files available.
DS3:  Current Offense Data
Documentation:
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No downloadable data files available.
DS4:  Disciplinaries Data
Documentation:
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No downloadable data files available.
DS5:  Education Data
Documentation:
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No downloadable data files available.
DS6:  Prior Conviction Data
Documentation:
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No downloadable data files available.

Study Description

Citation

DeHart, Dana. Impact of Victimization in the Lives of Incarcerated Women in South Carolina, 2000-2002. ICPSR09418-v1. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 2007-02-05. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR09418.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (2000-WT-VX-0010)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   criminal histories, female offenders, risk factors, victimization, violence

Smallest Geographic Unit:   None

Geographic Coverage:   South Carolina, United States

Time Period:  

  • 2001-10--2002-08

Date of Collection:  

  • 2001-10--2002-08

Unit of Observation:   Parts 1-2: individual, Part 3: prison offense, Part 4: prison disciplinaries, Part 5: prison education certificates, Part 6: prior offenses

Universe:   All inmates in the maximum security state women's correctional facility in South Carolina from October 2001 to August 2002.

Data Types:   administrative records data, and survey data

Data Collection Notes:

The interview data and media reports are currently not available as part of this data collection. They will be available at a later date using the restricted access procedures described above.

Methodology

Study Purpose:   With the growing problem of overcrowding in women's prisons, reformers have advocated for research on the gender-specific motivations and needs of female offenders. This project examined victimization in the lives of incarcerated women, specifically victimization as a risk factor for crime, with particular emphasis on the direct and indirect ways in which the impact of victimization contributed to criminal involvement. The study extended beyond prevalence studies by examining women's own perspectives, not only about criminal acts, but also on critical events and turning points, supports and barriers, and ways that life factors intersected -- bringing the women to their current place. The study's objectives were designed to enhance understanding of: (1) risk factors for women's crime, with specific emphasis on contributions of violent victimization over the life span, including ways violence has an impact on crime by affecting health, psychosocial functioning, and involvement in systems such as family and work, (2) "turning points" over the lifespan, specifically points of vulnerability to victimization and/or criminal involvement, as well as points when life paths took more positive turns, (3) self-identified strengths or circumstantial "buffers" that the women perceived as mitigating the negative impact of violence on their lives, and (4) implications of study findings for the enhancement of prevention, intervention, and justice programming.

Study Design:   Interviews were conducted with 60 women incarcerated in a maximum security state correctional facility in South Carolina from October 2001 to August 2002. The women had been convicted of drug offenses, property offenses, child abuse and neglect, violence toward partners, and other crimes. As prospective participants were sampled from the prison's database, they were sent a memo that briefly described the project and indicated a date and time that the woman would be excused from daily activities to learn more about participation. At the scheduled time, each prospective participant met individually with the interviewer in a private meeting area on prison grounds. Individual interviews lasted approximately two hours each. Interview measures consisted of participant responses to loosely-structured open-ended prompts and addressed each woman's own perspective on psychological, physical, and sexual victimization within her life, as well as her history of family and peer relationships, alcohol and drug use, and criminal activity. Prompts provided respondents with opportunities to describe significant events in their lives, to bring together distinct chronologies of events, and to analyze links between varied life events, allowing the project to achieve a participant-guided perspective on each woman's life history and circumstances. Women were given an excused absence from work for the time required to participate and were provided with complimentary soft drinks and snacks during participation. They were also provided with a Certificate of Completion that they could keep for their case folders. Prison policy did not allow tape recording of interviews, so each interviewer kept handwritten field notes throughout interviewing. Immediately following each interview, these notes were transcribed by the interviewer using third-person perspective to underscore that the transcripts were not direct quotes, in that the women's thoughts had been necessarily filtered through the interviewer in the transcription process. However, in accord with the project's goals of seeking the woman's own perspective on events in her life, every attempt was made to honor the veracity of the woman's account. The South Carolina Department of Corrections (SCDC) provided demographic and criminal history information for each prospective participant, including participants, no-shows, and decliners (Part 1) and for the female prison population without the prospective participants (Part 2). These data were used for sampling decisions and provide descriptive information on sample characteristics. In addition, the SCDC provided inmate data on offenses committed while in the SCDC (Part 3), disciplinary actions at the SCDC (Part 4), education through the SCDC (Part 5), and known prior offenses (Part 6). The project also conducted online searches in NewsLibrary for media reports concerning women who participated in the study. These reports were helpful in pinpointing certain events within the chronology of women's accounts, and will be useful in future research examining convergence or divergence of women's perspectives (interview data) with those of the system (prison records) and of the public (media reports).

Sample:   The site was chosen with consideration of research questions, methodological feasibility, and ultimate social impact. Because this facility also houses low-risk women with special medical needs, the site offered some sampling flexibility and substantial on-site support if needed for research logistics or follow-up with participants. Within the prospective participant pool of 465 female inmates at the chosen facility, participants were sampled with consideration of criteria set forth by Browne and Associates (1999). These researchers suggested that sampling allow time for women to move beyond initial adjustment to prison conditions (e.g., the first two months are "chaotic and potentially frightening"). Sampling after this time allows for women to become familiar with routines and become involved in program activities. Therefore, 165 inmates still under "reception and evaluation" were excluded, as well as women with severe mental illness, women considered at mental health risk at the time, women serving disciplinary time or protective custody in segregated housing, and women medically hospitalized at the time of eligibility. Due to human-subjects considerations, women under 18 years of age were ineligible. Within the parameters of the remaining population of 203 inmates, the prison's searchable database was used to randomly sample participants. Prospective participants were drawn from the eligible pool in batches. They were provided with an opportunity to participate, and sampling continued until the final sample size of 60 women was reached. The sample of 60 participants included women from a range of demographic backgrounds, criminal backgrounds, and lengths of sentences. Analyses of variance indicated that women who did not show up for participation or who declined to participate did not differ from study participants with respect to race, education level, time to serve before possible release, or time served prior to onset of interviews. Those who did not participate, however, were slightly older than study participants. Analyses of variance also indicated no differences between study participants and the broader statewide women's correctional population with regard to race, age, or education level. Those who participated in the study, however, had significantly longer times to serve before possible release than other female inmates statewide. The longer time-to-serve was determined to be a sampling artifact.

Weight:   None

Mode of Data Collection:   record abstracts, face-to-face interviews

Data Source:

Data for this collection were obtained from administrative records of the South Carolina Department of Corrections and from interviews with female inmates in a maximum security state correctional facility in South Carolina.

Description of Variables:   Variables include age, race, number of children, marital status, criminal offense history, correctional disciplinary records, probation/parole information, victim/witness notification, corrections program participation, intelligence scores, math and reading scores, basic academic history/degrees, mental health assessment, and special medical needs.

Response Rates:   A total of 77 women were invited to participate in the study. Thus, 17 women who were eligible did not participate. Ten of these women failed to show up for the initial appointment, with half of being attributable to scheduling conflicts (e.g., health care appointment) or logistical problems (e.g., the invitation to participate was not properly delivered). Of the remaining women who showed up but declined, six women indicated they "were just not interested" and one said she was "not up to it" emotionally at the time.

Presence of Common Scales:   None

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

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