Prospectus Introduction

Conduct problems and delinquency create a burden on society as a whole.  Costing around $20 billion a year, the number have people in U.S. prisons has risen tremendously over the past few decades, with little impact on crime but at great cost to taxpayers and society. History has shown that individuals who have social behavior problems are more likely to pass on aggressive traits to their children through harsh parenting. Thus, contributing to the never ending cycle of imprisonment. Previous research has found that the environment plays a large role in social behaviors such as aggression. Those with aggression tend to have many conduct problems and become the delinquents of society. We can partially distribute the origins of these problems and dangerous social behaviors to an individual’s environment.

In the context of social interactions, research showed that the interactions between the prisoners and guards have negative psychological affects on the inmates.These effects embed themselves in the prisoners and later manifest themselves in their parenting styles. Similarly, we have found that negative parenting practices have contributed to childhood aggression. In both cases, the authoritative figures display inhospitable attitudes towards the individual who developed conduct problems. In respect to physical environmental factors, we have found that some of current prison’s interior structures and lights are having negative influences on inmates’ mood and social behaviors. Prison cells are only focused on its purpose of having authoritative control over prisoners and do not respect them as a individual human beings. This type of relationship causes tension amongst each other and dehumanizes both parties.

For our research, we would like to explore ways to eradicate this problem. To do so, we would first restructure the prison itself by creating a more ideal living space that respects individual human beings as opposed to isolating them. In this new environment we would like to give effective treatments for their aggression. We would do so by integrating individual social-cognitive processing skills. For example, research has shown that by developing pro-social skills, perspective taking/interpersonal problem solving, and anger management tactics have helped reduce aggression. Therefore, the inmates could be taught these life skills to better prepare them for society post bail. Thirdly, we would implement parent management training or the families of former inmates. This training would include positive parent-child interaction, monitoring, effective discipline and communication methods. Training prison guards to effectively communicate with and monitor the inmates would inherently influence the inmates to use better parenting practices when they are communicating with their children. Teaching inmates effective parenting styles would reduce the risk of conduct disorders in children and diminish aggressive behaviors. In turn, by modifying the structure of a prison and providing effective rehabilitation using the multi-model intervention we can eradicate the cycle of imprisonment. It is our hope that by creating this new environment, we could diminish negative social behaviors and help former inmates become contributing members of society.

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