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During the preceding half century, sociologists have conducted an increasing number of studies of small informal groups; however, few social scientists have studied these phenomena among inmates in prison. Particularly is this true with regard to female inmates. This thesis seeks to present a sociological description of informal inmate groups, their leaders, and the isolates in a women's division of a state prison. It is hoped that the study will provide insight into possible hypotheses and methodological procedures for future research. The conclusions tend to support the findings of other social scientists who have written in this area.

Non-participant observation, structured interviews, informal interviews, statistical reports, and case histories are used to focus attention on the historical background., population characteristics, and formal organization of the prison as they relate to the women's division, and upon leaders, informal groups, and isolates among the inmates.

General findings or conclusions of the study are the following: there are informal groups within each racial division; bi-racial friendships and association are present, but no bi-racial groupings; among the whites the tightly knit groups are more homogeneous with respect to age, educational attainment, marital status, occupation prior to commitment, type of crime, length of sentence, and group participation prior to commitment than are the loosely knit groups; leaders are usually "old timers" serving sentences for narcotics offenses; the isolates among the Negro and white female inmates are generally illiterate or mentally retarded newcomers.