The Association Between Anxiety and Time to Community Release in a Sample of Incarcerated Women

AuthorDawn M. Pflugradt,Bradley P. Allen,Stephanie Butler
Published date01 September 2022
Date01 September 2022
Subject MatterArticles
The Association
Between Anxiety and
Time to Community
Release in a Sample of
Incarcerated Women
Dawn M. Pf‌lugradt
, Bradley
P. Allen
, and Stephanie Butler
Although the sociocultural factors impeding successful community re-inte-
gration for incarcerated women have been researched extensively, few stud-
ies have examined associated psychological inf‌luences. This study explored if
there was a relationship between self-reported symptoms of anxiety and
time to release from prison for a sample of incarcerated women. The results
revealed that total self-reported symptoms of anxiety increased as time to
release from prison decreased for all offenders regardless of the indepen-
dent/predictor variable with the exception of age at index offense. The
total scores of the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) increased as the partici-
pantsage at time of index offenses decreased.
anxiety, incarcerated women, community re-integration
Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Appleton, WI, USA
Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, Madison, WI, USA
St. Louis Community College, Wildwood, MO, USA
Corresponding Author:
Dawn M. Pf‌lugradt, Wisconsin Department of Corrections/Division of Community Corrections,
5600 W. Grande Market Drive, Appleton, Wisconsin, 54913, USA..
The Prison Journal
2022, Vol. 102(4) 458473
© 2022 SAGE Publications
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00328855221109817
Although the challenges associated with successful community re-integration
can be diff‌icult for all incarcerated individuals, it has been well-documented
that they are particularly arduous for female offenders (Cobbina, 2010;
Salisbury & Van Voorhis, 2009; Severance, 2004; Wright et al., 2012).
As described by numerous studies, women who commit crimes have to
cope with the same social barriers as males but usually with less education
and vocational training, fewer employment experiences, and more limited
f‌inancial resources (Pf‌lugradt et al., 2018; Van Voorhis et al., 2010). In addi-
tion, incarcerated women are more likely than men to be the primary caregiv-
ers of children immediately after release, often with little or no support
(Arditti & Few, 2006; Brown & Bloom, 2009; Shortt et al., 2014; Tuerk &
Loper, 2006).
Female offenders are also often uniquelyaffected by a history of victim-
ization, substance abuse, and both physical and mental health problems (Van
Voorhis et al., 2010). Ironically, women re-entering the community (follow-
ing incarceration) confront many of the same problems or issues that contrib-
uted to their incarceration (Brown & Bloom, 2009). As Severance (2004)
proffered, the social and economic marginality of women make the effects
of imprisonment even more devastating(p. 75). Thus, despite the similar
sociocultural challenges confronting both females and males following
release from incarceration, females often have gender-specif‌ic issues that
further hinder desistance and re-integration (Covington, 1998; Freudenberg
et al., 2008; Salisbury & Van Voorhis, 2009; Van Voorhis et al., 2010).
These gender-specif‌ic challenges confronting female offenders when
re-entering the community were described by Salisbury and Van Voorhis
(2009) within a gendered pathway paradigm. By utilizing interview and
survey data, they identif‌ied three models leading to incarceration as well as
affecting desistence/recidivism. The f‌irst model, childhood victimization,
examined how the associations between a history of childhood abuse,
mental illness and substance abuse resulted in continued offending. Their ana-
lyzes indicated that even though childhood victimization was not directly
related to incarceration, it had an indirect inf‌luence due to the resultant psy-
chological effects experienced in adulthood. That is, women who experienced
childhood trauma were at risk of developing major mental health problems,
especially depression, anxiety, and addictive behaviors which were directly
related to recidivism (Salisbury & Van Voorhis, 2009). It is this anxiety
and other associated mental health concerns that have an impact on recidivism
by becoming a barrier to successful social integration (Shinkf‌ield & Graffam,
Pf‌lugradt et al. 459

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