Female inmates' perceptions of distributive and procedural justice and adjustment
This study examined inmate perceptions of both distributive and procedural justice within the female jail population. By examining inmate perceptions of different elements of correctional culture, this study has shed light on the inmates' circumstances, their perceived realities, emotional responses, and behaviors within a correctional environment. The study also evaluated the relationship between perceptions of justice, perceived personal identity, and the perceived adjustment of these women in a correctional environment. This was accomplished though both quantitative and qualitative research techniques. A total of 186 female inmates in a large, urban jail participated in the study and completed the survey on their experiences in this correctional environment.
The major findings from this study indicated that there was evidence of injustice in the allocation of resources and procedures within the jail system studied. Indicators of perceived distributive justice such as fairness in the distribution of programs, services, and inmate privileges appeared to be extremely significant to female inmates at this jail. Additionally, understanding inmate perceptions of treatment by various court officials as well as perceived punishment by jail staff showed the importance of how women came to define what was fair and/or unfair within the criminal justice system.
Theoretically, the path model appeared to suggest that factors of perceived personal identity influenced the sample inmates' perceptions of their justice outcomes and procedures. However, empirical results revealed that perceived personal identity was more significant in predicting outcome fairness. This lends support to the suggestion that female inmates were concerned with the fairness in the distribution of programs, services, and privileges at this jail and that these factors were very important in shaping and maintaining their sense of identity. The analysis also revealed that there was a significant relationship between perceptions of distributive and procedural justice, perceived personal identity, and the perceived adjustment of these women in a correctional environment. Lastly, Goffman's theoretical perspective on total institutions was meaningful in understanding justice perceptions and patterns of adjustment among the female population at this jail.