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“Trauma, Stress, and Coping Among Older Adults in Prison: Towards a Human Rights and Intergenerational Family Justice Action Agenda”. Tina Maschi (January 2015)

As the article describes, although there is a growing body of research on conditions of confinement, including older adults, many inquiries about areas of concern remain unanswered. Specifically, what are the primary traumatic experiences and stressors of the incarceration experience, including solitary confinement, and how do incarcerated older adults, many of whom have served long-term prison sentences, cope with or manage prison life? We analyzed the experiences of 677 incarcerated adults 50 and older and a subsample (n 201) using a combination of deductive (frequency counts) and inductive (thematic identification) content analysis methods to identify what they reported about trauma, stress, and coping in prison. The primary causes of trauma and stress from our categorization are social (e.g., specifically, lack of contact with and concerns about family; 45%), followed by interpersonal (31%), institutional (29%), and cultural (15%). The majority of participants (54%) identified the use of social coping (e.g., interaction with family or other inmates) followed by cognitive (35%) and spiritual coping (33%) as important strategies to help them manage the prison experience. Our findings suggest that the aging in prison crisis and conditions of confinement are human rights and intergenerational family justice issues that violate older adults in prison, their rights to dignity and respect and their access to political, civil, economic, social and cultural resources. Recommendations are made for humanistic and human rights action strategies, including the allocation of resources for programs that reestablish family and community relationships and training. This may be an important step toward improving the conditions of prison, addressing human rights issues and promoting the overall well-being of those whom we incarcerate; further, it might promote greater acceptance from the communities they hope to reenter. These findings have implications for culturally responsive trauma informed prevention, assessment, and interventions, including advocacy to address human rights violations of alleged abuse and neglect, including solitary confinement. For a copy of the article, email your request to collab@fordham.edu You also can watch her video as she describes the conditions of confinement based on her 30 years of being a clinical social worker and then research in prisons: http://expertwitnessagainsttorture.com/prison-torture-dual-loyalty-conflicts-conference-video/

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