A recent analysis conducted by College of The Bahamas (COB) lecturers on the social background of sentenced inmates at Her Majesty’s Prison (HMP) has dispelled many myths about how criminals were raised.
Social Sciences Lecturers, Jessica Minnis and Tonya Gibson conducted their study back in Spring and Summer 2010 and presented their findings at the college’s Colloquium on Criminality last week.
“We found that inmates were not a homogenous group in terms of their socialisation experiences,” Ms. Minnis told those gathered. “We usually think that most inmates come from poor backgrounds and environments where there was abuse and families going to prison but we found that that wasn’t the case.”
“We were able to categorise these experiences and saw that they came from both single and two-parent homes, largely single though. They came from large families with five to 10 siblings in comparison to the general population where there are usually three siblings; they had a happy childhood; there was regular church attendance; they were not abused; they did not witness parents abusing alcohol or drugs.”
Ms. Minnis explained that of the inmates surveyed, most of them had a public school education and the level of education was between tenth and twelfth grade.
“They dropped out of school for fighting or bad behaviour and were not expelled,” she said.
“They usually confided in their mother and did not abuse alcohol or drugs. They participated in sports and other recreational activities.”
The purpose of the research was to examine whether criminal behaviour is associated with an individual’s social environment.
The lecturers used factors such as family, peer association, education and recreational activities, the analysis examined the social environment of inmates prior to their incarceration at HMP.
The survey had 84 questions.
According to the analysis, there were 783 sentenced inmates at the time of the study and they were randomly selected.
“The planned sample size was 400 inmates, but the total was 336,” Ms. Minnis said.
“There were some limitations to our study in that we had some inmates who couldn’t read. The survey was administered via other sources, there were some administrative delays beyond our control; there were some security delays and then there were time delays. We thought we would have gotten in there in three days, but we ended up lengthening our stay because of those reasons.”
In total, 46 per cent of the inmates surveyed came from the maximum security prison, 36 per cent from medium, 10 per cent from minimum, five per cent from the female prison and two per cent were on remand.
Other statistics provided by the lecturers show that 95 per cent of the inmates are male, 44 per cent are between the ages of 20-30; 98 per cent are black, 80 per cent are single and 93 per cent were born in The Bahamas.