Institutionalization in the Prison System

The prison system is a framework in which individuals are confined and punished for their crimes. However, it is inevitable that barriers are established when it comes to releasing said individuals and giving them tools that will assist them in having a law-abiding approach to income, interpersonal relationships, and interactions with the rest of society. On the other hand, said elements require a practical approach to integration into a certain life that compromises one established within prisons.

The institutionalization of an individual reflects the phenomenon in which one cannot escape the prison experience. Thus, certain people may not be able to adapt to life without bars due to the lack of skills in regard to holding a job, interacting with civilians, and acquiring needed resources. For example, one aspect of institutionalization is the healthcare sector. Namely, individuals acquire chronic conditions in prisons and do not have the tools to address them after they are released (Crane & Pascoe, 2020). Moreover, the institution’s hierarchy and the inability to teach prisoners valuable skills related to legal employment facilitates institutionalization. As a result, people cannot escape their previous lives and their sentence, which generates recidivism (Beaudry et al., 2021). Thus, the system is set to incarcerate and punish, not does not consider successful release as a primary objective.

Based on the aforementioned information, it is inevitable that the existing system employs several techniques that facilitate institutionalization. Namely, prisoners do not receive information and education on specific actions that can be implemented to address recidivism, such as employment, professional skills, and psychological help. Moreover, specific individuals become more dependent on the resources available in prisons, such as healthcare. The formation of hierarchical casts, the continuous progression of unlawful behavior despite incarceration, and the presence of psychological stagnancy generate institutionalization.


Beaudry, G., Yu, R., Perry, A. E., & Fazel, S. (2021). Effectiveness of psychological interventions in prison to reduce recidivism: A systematic review and meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Trials. The Lancet Psychiatry, 8(9), 759–773.

Crane, J. T., & Pascoe, K. (2020). Becoming institutionalized: Incarceration as a chronic health condition. Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 35(3), 307–326.

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1. LawBirdie. "Institutionalization in the Prison System." August 14, 2023.


LawBirdie. "Institutionalization in the Prison System." August 14, 2023.