Lesbianism among women prisoners: Participants and Nonparticipants

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This research identifies various factors related to lesbianism in prison and attempts to place the findings into the perspective of the importation-deprivation debate concerning the origins of inmate attitudes. When compared to nonparticipants in homosexual behavior, lesbians were found to have histories of previous confinements, longer sentences, served more time, been initially arrested at an earlier age, a higher endorsement of the inmate code and feminist values, and higher levels of conflict-aggression. Further, these variables were positively related to amount of participation in lesbian activities. A key factor that differentiated the lesbian subsample was the respondent's age at her first gay experience. The most criminalistic, feministic, aggressive, and homosexually active women in the institution were those whose first gay experience preceded their initial arrest. The implications of this finding are discussed from a sex-roles perspective.