Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 15–23 | Cite as

Reconsidering the pseudo-family/gang gender distinction in prison research

  • Craig J. ForsythEmail author
  • Rhonda D. Evans


This study examines the discourse used to describe experiences within those social groupings, existing within female prisons among inmates, which are generally referred to as pseudo-families among researchers. The data for this study were obtained from interviews with female inmates and correctional staff at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women (LCIW). Through examination of inmate and staff descriptions, the functions of these so-called pseudo-families are shown to be synonymous with those of male prison gangs. For example, the following functions of social groupings within female prisons were gleaned from the data in the current study: emotional support, economic support, vehicles for coercion and aggression, and the need for protection from intimidation and assault. We contend that pseudo-families are indeed serving the same functions that gangs serve in male prisons and that the distinction that has been drawn between these two social groupings was constructed more from our stereotypical expectations of men and women, which also have infiltrated the prison environment, than from any real distinctions. The importance of this study is that it challenges the gender bias among researchers in interpretations of male and female behavior and experiences.


Social Capital Emotional Support Gang Member Criminal Psychology Gang Membership 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Society for Police and Criminal Psychology 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeUniversity of Louisiana at LafayetteLafayetteUSA

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