Article Critique Self-help as an Explanation for Violence among Female Inmate A Preliminary Assessment by M. Dyan McGuire

Summary of the article
In the article Self-help as an Explanation for Violence among Female Inmate A Preliminary Assessment by M. Dyan McGuire (2006), the author focuses on female inmates who have seen or have been involved in violence with other female inmates. This study also evaluates the causes of violence among female inmates through semi-structured interviews that were documented for further research about the subject. McGuire (2006) applies Donald Blacks self-help theory as a paradigm for evaluating the causes of violence among female inmates.

The study is limited to violence that causes physical damage or pain kicking, punching, pushing, sexual assault, and other means to deliberately hurting another inmate. It does not discuss mental violence and damage to female inmates. McGuire also only interviewed female inmates that have been in jail for more that a year and is over eighteen years old. The researcher has chosen female inmates to be interview randomly, 80 female inmates was originally ask but 52 only granted their request.

The study suggests that violence among female prisoners is more common than most people assume, and most of the incidences of violence take place between inmates who are in a homosexual relationship and those who want more power inside the correctional. The study also shows that violence in womens correctional is being ignored and is not being handled correctly, especially when it comes to homosexual behaviour. Although there are rules regarding homosexual conduct, such rules are usually not met inside the correctional. Homosexual conduct is one of the main sources of violence in womens correctional, yet it is usually not caught by prison guards. Sexual assault is also more common than expected the female inmates have stated that sexual assault inside the womens correctional is very active and that most female inmates just assault fellow prisoners as a display of power and strength inside the womens correctional.

Aims and Objectives of the Research
The inmate officials tend to overlook the incidence of violence inside the female correctional. Most of the victims also keep their mouth shut and let the violent act continue, which ranges from quick and simple gestures of disapproval, such as a glares or frowns, to massive assaults resulting in numerous deaths (quoted by McGuire 2006). Hence, the aim of the research is to reveal female inmate violence as a common occurrence. It intends to show that these women are being exposed to violence everyday, yet they do not talk to prison guards in fear of losing what little connection they have outside the womens correctional.

To explain about the instances of violence in the womens correctional, the study employs Blacks theory on self-help, which argues that self-help is the handling of a grievance by unilateral aggression (quoted by McGuire 2006).

The study aims to show that the violence in womens correctional facilities is more common that what we think. Most of the women who the researchers have interviewed have either seen or is in the act of violence. The study aims to show that there is potential danger inside a facility that is suppose to reform criminals so that when they get out of the correctional they can be a better person and can associate more with other people.

The objective of the study is to prove that there is violence inside womens correctional and that we have to pay attention to female inmates violence as much as we pay attention to male inmates violence. The violence in womens correctional doesnt change over time and has only grown worst because most of the officials dont pay attention to female inmates. The research is guided by Donald Blacks theory of Self Help.

Evaluating the Methodological Techniques
The methodology is described in detail, which makes it easier for researchers to follow and duplicate McGuires work. The survey and interview questions are also very relevant to the objectives of the study. The researcher has originally selected 80 female inmates to be interview but some of them have declined and only 52 female inmates has granted their request to be interview.  The questions asked by the researcher were only those that were relevant to the research. The female inmates were only asked about the violence inside the womens correctional and how they managed to inflict violence with supervision from the prison guards.

The form if method the researcher has chosen has been proven to justify the topic of the research. The interview speaks for itself, that there really is violence inside womens correctional. The violent acts of the female inmates in womens correctional was also discussed and most of them answered that violent act starts with gaining respect inside the correctional, whether from their relationships or respect from other female inmates.

McGuire also chose an appropriate method for the investigation of violence in womens correctional. The methodological approach is sufficient enough for McGuire to gather data for their investigation of violence in womens correctional. The interview provided clear and adequate data to prove that violence in womens correctional is a prevailing issue that should be addressed. The researcher has also used a logical approach in analysing the data in terms of asking only the female inmates that had been involve with violent acts in womens correctional or has seen the violent act. The researcher also did a logical approach on the topic by choosing female inmates that had been long enough to know the violence in womens correctional.

The sampling procedure is adequately describe for the female inmates to answer the questions and for the researcher to have a grasp of what is really happening inside womens correctional, how the violent act happen and how they avoid the officials of the correctional.

McGuire also set limitations on the sampling procedure by interviewing only female inmates who experienced violence or inflicted it to another inmate. The participants should also have been in jail for more that a year and are over eighteen years old. The female inmates who do not have any experience with the act of violence nor have seen the act of violence inside womens correctional is also not interviewed, only those who have experience the violent act and those who have seen or inflicted the act is interview.

Findings and Ethics
The data presented by the researcher is simple enough to prove that the there is violence in womens correctional facilities and that it needs to be taken care of.

However, McGuire ended up having a different finding from the previous research. The prior research stated that homosexuality is the main cause of violence in womens correctional, but when further analysed, it is only a minor cause for violence in womens correctional. There are worse situations other than fighting female inmates about their relationship.

Ethical considerations were also made. McGuire obtained the consent of the participants before disclosing any information and before recording the interview. She respected her interviewees right to privacy by not pressing them to answer when they do not want to provide one. Rather, she just listened to the stories told by the female inmates and based her research on that.

The study states that violence among female inmates, as revealed by the women interviewed for this study, is a complex and multi-dimensional phenomenon (McGuire 2006).

McGuire asserts that allowing homosexual conduct between female can lessen the tendency of violent acts. But the violence inside womens correctional facilities are not solely because of the homosexual conducts performed by the female inmates, the gain for respect inside the womens correctional facility is also playing a major role why the female inmates becomes violent inside womens correctional. The findings of the research reveal that there are a lot of fights breaking inside the womens correctional and that the prison guards are poor at detecting them. The violent acts are happening right under the prison staffs nose. Because of a lack of awareness of what really happens in prison cells, inmate-to-inmate violence became a crime waiting to happen.

The research further suggests that there should be a lesser punishment or no punishment at all for victims of inmate-to-inmate violence or else, they would continue to conceal their victimization. Better surveillance is also needed. The main reason why female inmate violence occurs is because the inmates lack surveillance. Attaching surveillance camera will help if the correctional facilities cannot provide much needed guards. Little effort made by the officials can lower the rate of violence in women correctional facilities.

The research has indeed supported its claim that there is violence in womens correctional facilities by interviewing and questioning female inmates that has seen or has been involve in the act of violence inside womens correctional. The research has shown clearly that there is no argument that there really is violence inside the correctional.

The results of this study contribute to criminology knowledge that ignores the fact that there is crime happening inside female correctional facilities which are supposed to be rehabilitating criminals for their crime. The prison has cultivated criminal acts by ignoring the needs of the inmates.

The study can be improved if the researcher has seen the act personally the researcher can attach a surveillance camera inside the correctional and see the act themselves. The study can also be improved if they can interview the new female inmates because most of the female inmates they have interviewed have stated that the old tends to prey with the newer female inmates in the correctional facilities. The researcher can also improve the study if they have interview someone who has done sexual assaults and ask what made they do that to other female inmates. The study can also be improved if the researcher has chosen more womens correctional facilities. The study will also improve if the researcher has conducted study not only to the physical effects of the violence in womens correctional. Most of the interviewed female inmates have described the act of violence to have hurt them not only physical pain but also emotional pains. If the study could also discussed the effects of the violence emotionally, the study would have been better.

The study has shown evidences that the violence in womens correctional is in need of attention and further studies about the topic should be conducted to exploit what is really happening behind the walls of womens correctional facilities.


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