Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Work

Document Type



Mental illness among prisoners is higher than the general population (James & Glaze, 2006). The purpose of this exploratory-descriptive study was to investigate the social support and mental health factors that best predict punishment severity for institutional rule violations among prisoners. I conducted a secondary data analysis on 2004 Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau for the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The survey participants in this study consisted of a sample of 11,569 male prisoners. Bivariate analyses of interrelationships were conducted to assess whether significant relationships exist between the severity of punishment received by prisoners as the result of a rule violation and a host of demographic, social support, and mental illness variables. Ordered logistic regression analysis was conducted to determine the factors that best predict likelihood of punishment severity among prisoners with mental illness. Multiple regression analysis was also conducted to determine the demographic, social support, and mental illness factors that best predicted rule violation type. Findings from the ordered logistic regression analysis revealed several variables as significant predictors of the type of rule violated including: age, being Black, non-Hispanic, being of Hispanic descent, married, divorced, separated, visits from children, phone calls to and from children, letters to and from children, having a diagnosis of depression, and having a diagnosis of PTSD. The strongest predictors of rule violation type were: age, being of Hispanic origin, being married, separated, visits from children, and having a diagnosis of depression. Findings from the multivariate analysis revealed three significant predictors of punishment severity including: visits from family and friends, phone calls to and from children, and visits from children. Further analysis revealed invariant effects of rule violations and social support variables. Directions for future research and implications for social work practice, policy, and criminal justice reform are discussed.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Allen, Priscilla



Included in

Social Work Commons