Boddewyn, E. A. (2022). Prison and Representations of Self: Understanding Mass Incarceration Through Memoir. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2523
This study analyzed the way in which incarcerated, or formerly incarcerated people represent their time in prison through memoir. The recent rise in rates of incarceration in the United States has made understanding how inmates experience the penal system increasingly important. These intimate accounts provide valuable insight into the many injustices and failings of American correctional facilities and the innate complexity of all incarcerated people. In questioning what common themes exist across prison memoirs and what these themes say about incarceration as a social system, this study examined twelve memoirs written by authors from a range of backgrounds. A qualitative coding scheme was used to monitor recurring concepts, focusing on the psychological impacts of the prison environment. This study also examined what the recurrence of particular themes says about the criminal justice system as a whole. Results of the study indicate that prisons do not serve any rehabilitative purpose and instead cause long-lasting harm that takes a great deal of time and effort to reverse.