When Military Uniforms Change into Prison Uniforms: Military Prison Incarceration Among Ethiopian Soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces

Published date01 August 2023
AuthorLea Itzik,Sophie D. Walsh
Date01 August 2023
Subject MatterArticles
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Journal Title: Criminal Justice and Behavior
Article Number: 1174898
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CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR, 202X, Vol. XX, No. X, Month 2023, 1 –22.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00938548231174898
Article reuse guidelines: sagepub.com/journals-permissions
© 2023 International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology
Military Prison Incarceration Among Ethiopian
Soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces
Ashkelon Academic College
Bar-Ilan University
In contrast with studies examining the incarceration experience in civil prisons, there is a lack of literature and theory focus-
ing on the military prison incarceration experience. The present retrospective qualitative study explored the experience of 27
Ethiopian-Israelis, an overrepresented population in Israeli military prison, incarcerated during their military service due to
desertion offenses. Two main themes developed from the interviews: (a) the military prison as a tool to achieve personal goals
and (b) Self-perception as victims of the system. Findings suggest that military prison incarceration may be a different expe-
rience to that of civilian incarceration, at times lacking the negative psychological described in literature on civil incarcera-
tion. On a theoretical level, results suggest that the incarceration experience may not be universal but, rather, dependent on
the social and cultural context and meaning of the incarceration for the individual involved.
Keywords: military criminal justice; military incarceration; emerging adult deserters; Ethiopian immigrants
Imprisonment is considered a highly stressful environment for justice-involved persons,
with many reporting mental health problems and/or difficulties coping with incarceration
(Auty et al., 2017; Goomany & Dickinson, 2015; Harner & Riley, 2013). Research on insti-
tutional adaptation to prison has focused on characteristics concerning the individual (Logan
& Pare, 2017) and the environment associated with imprisonment’s psychological impact
(Trulson et al., 2011). Sykes (1958) described the deprivation created by the act of incar-
ceration, which he named “pains of imprisonment,” as damaging essential aspects of the
individual’s daily life before incarceration, such as liberty, property, sexual relationships,
AUTHORS’ NOTE: The first author disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research: The
article was based on doctoral research that was funded by the Israel Scholarship Education Foundation.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Lea Itzik, Department of Criminology, Ashkelon
Academic College, 12 Ben Tzvi Street, Ashkelon 78211, Israel; e-mail: leaitzik@edu.aac.ac.il.
XXX10.1177/00938548231174898Criminal Justice and BehaviorItzik, Walsh / Military Prison Incarceration

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