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PSYCHIATRIC APPROACHES TO EXPIRATION OF SENTENCE MEN
DAVID H. DABNEY
Am J Psychiatry 1963;120:261-266.
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Abstract

This paper gives the psychiatric findings of 100 expiration of sentence offenders released from the Lorton Reformatory (D. C.) between Apr. 1, 1961 and Mar. 31, 1962. The Bureau of Rehabilitation, engaged the author as consultant in Apr. 1961, to study, evaluate and offer psychotherapy where needed. It was made clear to these men that their participation was entirely on a voluntary basis.Impressions of these men were derived from their classification records. They were then seen by the author in both individual and group meetings before leaving Lorton. The observations of each man in the individual and group meetings before leaving Lorton correlated favorably with the original impression rendered for each, from the classification records. They were all asked to come to see the author after release. The 100 men fell into 6 groups: 1. Sociopathic Personality (33%); 2. Inadequate Personality (20%); 3. Passive-Aggressive Personality (15%); 4. Schizophrenic Reactions in Remission (12%); 5. Mental Deficiency, Acquired (12%); and 6. Chronic Brain Syndromes (3%). All had committed crimes against both person and property. The mental defectives as well as the chronic brain syndromes seemed to have lacked reasoning and judgment, indices of intelligence. The borderline schizophrenics had associated breaks from reality, involving each one's particular delusional system in their acts; the passive-aggressives, resistance; the inadequate, compensation; and the sociopathic, projection.Three significant conclusions were derived. 1. The element of fixation is a major factor in each expiration of sentence offender, before incarceration, during and after; 2. The approach to crime prevention should include consideration of the psychodynamics of the individual expiration of sentence man; and 3. The concept of identity is ever-present in each expiration of sentence man, although distorted, which can and must be utilized in salvaging the individual, reducing further criminal activity on his part and interposing realistic social values in his outlook on life after prison.Many correctional and related authorities feel that this group of men, in general, are difficult to communicate with and relate to, while some feel ambivalent. This paper is an attempt to offer some courses in future efforts to widen the channels of communication and relationship with this group of men along psychiatric lines, including the descriptive, dynamic and eclectic approaches.

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