Separation and isolation is common when one is incarcerated. The process involves separation from one’s family, friends, and home. Especially, during the early days of incarceration, the individual can experience a great deal of isolation and even loneliness. This is the case for both male and female prisoners, although the way the two reacts to the situation tends to differ. Women feel a greater burden of separation than men. Men are most likely to stay isolated and miserable when they are separated from their families, including children, parents, and other loved ones. Although the authorities allow visitation of the inmates, it never feels the same as being at home with one’s family. In fact, the visitations could cause greater loneliness and challenges in adapting when one is always reminded about what has been left behind (Haney, 2003). The challenge applies to both male and female inmates.
Hopelessness is a common issue that is faced by individuals who are incarcerated. The issue is particularly common during the early days of the incarceration. Both male and female inmates suffer from the hopelessness, but women tend to be more affected than men. In fact, women are most likely to show and act hopeless compared to men. In this case, women are more likely to bend to the pressure compared to men (Haney, 2003). Men tend to put the strong façade, making it challenging to read hopelessness in them. On the contrary, women are most likely to walk around feeling sorry for themselves and in such a way that any person can see through them. It is easier to feel sorry for the female inmates than their male counterparts. While both genders are facing the same hopeless situation, the way they respond tend to differ.
Sexual abuse is among the most common issues affecting women who are incarcerated. The sexual abuse and coercion patterns that characterized the prison system in the early days of the system are still evident in the modern age (Messina, Burdon, Hagopian, & Prendergast, 2006). While the patterns of abuse might not be the same for men and women because of the differences in the perpetrators, the issue cuts across male and female inmates. Women and men behind the bars suffer the effect of sexual harassment, from the fellow inmates and in some cases from the law enforcement officials who are expected to provide them with security. The problem is made worse by the fact that both male and female victims do not have the means of escaping from the abuser. The problem also continues because there are no measures assumed to protect the victims of the abuse.
Discrimination is a major issue in prison, given the fact that the inmates are from different backgrounds, which form the basis for the discrimination. Indeed, discrimination is a common problem amongst male and female inmates because of the inherent differences, including the ethnic and racial backgrounds. For example, discrimination against black prisoners has always been common and perpetrated against both male and female prisoners. The victims of the discrimination suffer from common effects, whether they are men or women. The issue has persisted for as long as the people with the differences have been incarcerated in the same corrections facilities (Messina et al., 2006). The victims of discrimination are also exposed to other negative outcomes such as victimization based on the differences. Both male and female inmates go through the discrimination process and also suffer the negative effects.
Incarceration can be a traumatic event for both male and female prisoners. However, it is important to note the ways the two genders experience the trauma is not the same. For those incarcerated, the mere thought of losing the freedom and facing the life behind the bars can be highly traumatic (Haney, 2003). For others, the trauma is as a result of the reality of the prison life, including sexual and physical abuse. The trauma can have the effects in the short-term or the long-term for both male and female inmates. The traumatic reality of incarceration does not matter whether the imprisoned person is a male or a female. They all face an environment devoid of freedom and one that is characterized by major negative outcomes. They both go through the trauma that can cause other negative mental problems.
Major mental health challenges are common in the corrections facilities. The problems are made worse by the fact that the treatment processes for mental health challenges are not adequate. The mental health challenges are faced by the two genders, although the two genders internalize them differently (Haney, 2003). Men tend to internalize the challenges such that they become more aggressive as opposed to women whose effect of the challenges could be more mental and emotional health problems such as depression. Men will tend to respond to a crisis aggressively or violently, while women will tend to be depressed when they are faced with a crisis. The challenges facing the two genders in the corrections facilities could be the same, but the effect they have on the two tend to differ.
There are some gender-specific issues that are different between the two genders. There are challenges that women face by virtue of being women and those which men suffer just because they are men. There are some needs that are unique to the genders that are not always met within the corrections system and have serious effects on the outcomes of the affected persons. For some women, the pathway to crime is unique to their gender, and the treatment and rehabilitative efforts should take this factor into consideration (Blitz, Wolff, Pan, & Pogorzelski, 2005). However, this is not always the case as women who are incarcerated do not go through gender-specific interventions which could play an important role in addressing their challenges. As a result, the continued effect of the system that does not take into consideration the gender-specific needs affect the two genders differently.
Victimization is a common problem in prison and occurs in both male and female prisons. Victimization takes different forms, can be in the form of sexual or physical victimization. The inmates are looked at as inferior human beings who deserve to be victimized because of committing crimes. Both male and female inmates face victimization, although the rate is not the same for men and women. Women are more victimized than men in prison. Victimization of the inmates is either perpetrated by the fellow inmates, especially by those who have been in the system longer against the new ones, or by the officers who are expected to ensure the security of the inmates. Women are the greatest victims of deprivation due to their incarceration (Blitz, Wolff & Shi, 2008). The society tends to view them in a negative light because of committing the crime against it. They are seen as not deserving protection by the virtue of being criminals.
Congestion of the corrections facilities is a problem that cuts across the corrections facilities, the ones used for men and those for women. The growth in the prison population in the country is a problem that continues to bite with serious ramifications on the health and well-being of the inmates. The prisons in the country hold the greatest number of inmates compared to the same in other countries. The services provided by the system are negatively affected because of the numbers. This is not a problem that is unique to any gender because of the fact that it is a systemic issue (Simooya, 2010). Both women and men who are incarcerated receive services that are poor because of the increased numbers of inmates in the correctional facilities in the country. This is because of the increased cost necessary to take care of the large numbers of inmates.
The general health of the inmates is negatively affected because of, among other issues, the congestion. The prisoners are always at the risk of contracting communicable diseases because of poor general health. Again, this is another problem that affects both men and women in prison. The access to health for those who are incarcerated is not optimal, explaining their risk for contracting and suffering the effects of the diseases. Among the common diseases are HIV/AIDS, which is spread through the intravenous drug injection and unsafe sex. Both women and men who are imprisoned also face a heightened risk of hepatitis C (HVC) and tuberculosis (TB) because of the congestion and unsafe health behaviors (Simooya, 2010). Their problem is made worse by the fact that there is no concern for their health and wellbeing.
Drug abuse is a common problem among prisoners, both men and women. However, the problem is more prevalent among men than women. Illegal drugs have always found their way into the correctional facilities. The issue jeopardizes the potential for effective rehabilitation of the offenders (Messina et al., 2006). When the offenders are able to access and use the drugs, there is no chance for the treatment programs. Some continue to use the drugs until when they are back to the society. Hence, for some, the incarceration does not achieve the rehabilitative role for the offenders. Essentially, drugs are common in both male and female prison facilities.
Blitz, C. L., Wolff, N., & Shi, J. (2008). Physical victimization in prison: The role of mental illness. International journal of law and psychiatry, 31(5), 385-393.
Blitz, C. L., Wolff, N., Pan, K. Y., & Pogorzelski, W. (2005). Gender-specific behavioral health and community release patterns among New Jersey prison inmates: Implications for treatment and community reentry. American Journal of Public Health, 95(10), 1741-1746.
Haney, C. (2003). The psychological impact of incarceration: Implications for post-prison adjustment. Prisoners once removed: The impact of incarceration and reentry on children, families, and communities, 33, 66.
Messina, N., Burdon, W., Hagopian, G., & Prendergast, M. (2006). Predictors of prison-based treatment outcomes: A comparison of men and women participants. The American journal of drug and alcohol abuse, 32(1), 7-28.
Simooya, O. O. (2010). Infections in prison in low and middle-income countries: prevalence and prevention strategies. The Open Infectious Diseases Journal, 4(1).