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Solidarity or Solitude? Correlates of Incarceration and the Peer Networks of Imprisoned Women

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: Online Dated: 2023
Date Published

This study, informed by a social network perspective, feminist perspectives, and literature on prison society, found that incarcerated women with traumatic histories may seek out peer support while not providing the same.


This study using a social network perspective to understand the informal social organization of incarcerated women and connecting feminist perspectives to a re-emergent literature on prison society found that incarcerated women with histories of traumatic life events and difficulties may seek out peer support while not providing the same. Data came from the Women’s Prison Inmate Network Study, specifically from residents within two of three sampled units (N = 152). Exponential random graph models estimate how self-report and administrative measures predict friendship, paying specific attention to how correlates of incarceration shape peer tie formation. Measures of mental illness, substance misuse, and childhood victimization were associated with sending ties to peers, though these ties were less likely to be reciprocated. Social network analysis is an important tool to further understand the experience of women in prison as it considers the social structures and individual perspectives of imprisoned individuals. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: January 1, 2023