n Acta Criminologica: Southern African Journal of Criminology - An assessment of the self-esteem of a group of recidivists with specific reference to the correctional environment

Volume 30 Number 4
  • ISSN : 1012-8093


International research has demonstrated the impact of prison conditions on the levels of selfesteem of inmate populations. Despite the evaluative aspects of the self in relation to the correctional environment, a dearth of research remains notable within the South African context, notwithstanding the critical aspects thereof in relation to behavioural motivation and possible reduction of recidivism. Guided by a Rogerian theoretical framework, a quantitative analysis was conducted of the level of self-esteem of a group of recidivists. On the one hand results indicated that the self-esteem scores of a group of South African repeat offenders were negatively affected by vicarious experiences of victimisation within the correctional facility, and on the other, findings showed also increases in self-esteem in terms of prolonged exposure to the correctional environment together with positive perceptions of satisfaction with the conditions in the correctional centres. Contrary to popular belief, this shows that not all offenders in the correctional context necessarily experience low levels of self-esteem but these findings also highlight the importance of the impact of witnessing victimisation on the selfesteem within the correctional environment.

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