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Natalie A. Pifer

Bio: Natalie A. Pifer is an academic researcher from University of Rhode Island. The author has contributed to research in topics: Solitary confinement & Mass incarceration. The author has an hindex of 4, co-authored 14 publications receiving 75 citations. Previous affiliations of Natalie A. Pifer include University of California, Los Angeles & University of California, Irvine.

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Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Understanding disproportionate psychopathology matters for developing prevention policies and addressing the unique needs of people who have experienced solitary confinement, an extreme element of mass incarceration.
Abstract: Objectives. To specify symptoms and measure prevalence of psychological distress among incarcerated people in long-term solitary confinement.Methods. We gathered data via semistructured, in-depth interviews; Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) assessments; and systematic reviews of medical and disciplinary files for 106 randomly selected people in solitary confinement in the Washington State Department of Corrections in 2017. We performed 1-year follow-up interviews and BPRS assessments with 80 of these incarcerated people, and we present the results of our qualitative content analysis and descriptive statistics.Results. BPRS results showed clinically significant symptoms of depression, anxiety, or guilt among half of our research sample. Administrative data showed disproportionately high rates of serious mental illness and self-harming behavior compared with general prison populations. Interview content analysis revealed additional symptoms, including social isolation, loss of identity, and sensory hypersensitivity.Conclusions. Our coordinated study of rating scale, interview, and administrative data illustrates the public health crisis of solitary confinement. Because 95% or more of all incarcerated people, including those who experienced solitary confinement, are eventually released, understanding disproportionate psychopathology matters for developing prevention policies and addressing the unique needs of people who have experienced solitary confinement, an extreme element of mass incarceration.

62 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
09 Oct 2020-PLOS ONE
TL;DR: It is found that solitary confinement is associated not just with mental, but also with physical health problems, and given the disproportionate use of solitary among incarcerated people of color, these symptoms are most likely to affect those populations.
Abstract: We examine how solitary confinement correlates with self-reported adverse physical health outcomes, and how such outcomes extend the understanding of the health disparities associated with incarceration. Using a mixed methods approach, we find that solitary confinement is associated not just with mental, but also with physical health problems. Given the disproportionate use of solitary among incarcerated people of color, these symptoms are most likely to affect those populations. Drawing from a random sample of prisoners (n = 106) in long-term solitary confinement in the Washington State Department of Corrections in 2017, we conducted semi-structured, in-depth interviews; Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) assessments; and systematic reviews of medical and disciplinary files for these subjects. We also conducted a paper survey of the entire long-term solitary confinement population (n = 225 respondents) and analyzed administrative data for the entire population of prisoners in the state in 2017 (n = 17,943). Results reflect qualitative content and descriptive statistical analysis. BPRS scores reflect clinically significant somatic concerns in 15% of sample. Objective specification of medical conditions is generally elusive, but that, itself, is a highly informative finding. Using subjective reports, we specify and analyze a range of physical symptoms experienced in solitary confinement: (1) skin irritations and weight fluctuation associated with the restrictive conditions of solitary confinement; (2) un-treated and mis-treated chronic conditions associated with the restrictive policies of solitary confinement; (3) musculoskeletal pain exacerbated by both restrictive conditions and policies. Administrative data analyses reveal disproportionate rates of racial/ethnic minorities in solitary confinement. This analysis raises the stakes for future studies to evaluate comparative prevalence of objective medical diagnoses and potential causal mechanisms for the physical symptoms specified here, and for understanding differential use of solitary confinement and its medically harmful sequelae.

21 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In LA's illegal gun market, where existing social relationships facilitate access to guns across a diffuse network, individuals have frequent opportunities to illegally possess firearms through passive transactions, gun policies should better target and minimise these transactions.
Abstract: California has strict firearm-related laws and is exceptional in its regulation of firearms retailers. Though evidence suggests that these laws can reduce illegal access to guns, high levels of gun violence persist in Los Angeles (LA), California. This research seeks to describe the sources of guns accessed by active offenders in LA, California and reports offenders' motivations for obtaining guns.Los Angeles County Jail (LACJ) system (four facilities).Random sampling from a screened pool of eligible participants was used to conduct qualitative semistructured interviews with 140 incarcerated gun offenders in one of four (LACJ) facilities. Researchers collected data on firearm acquisition, experiences related to gun violence, and other topics, using a validated survey instrument. Grounded theory guided the collection and analysis of data.Respondents reported possession of 77 specific guns (79.2% handguns) collectively. Social networks facilitate access to illegal guns; the majority of interviewees acquired their illegal guns through a social connection (85.7%) versus an outside broker/unregulated retailer (8.5%). Most guns were obtained through illegal purchase (n=51) or gift (n=15). A quarter of gun purchasers report engaging in a passive transaction, or one initiated by another party. Passive gun buyers were motivated by concerns for personal safety and/or economic opportunity.In LA's illegal gun market, where existing social relationships facilitate access to guns across a diffuse network, individuals, influenced by both fear and economic opportunity, have frequent opportunities to illegally possess firearms through passive transactions. Gun policies should better target and minimise these transactions.

20 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this article, a decentered analysis of the Atkins gap focused on the category of intellectual disability is provided, and the authors explore how drawing boundaries around intellectual disability in capital cases requires law to grapple with fluid scientific and social constructs through a study of how courts operationalize intellectual disability.
Abstract: Atkins v. Virginia (2002) categorically exempts intellectually disabled defendants from execution, yet some constitutionally suspect punishments suggest a gap between law and practice. This article moves beyond critiquing Atkins' formal implementation to provide a decentered analysis of the Atkins gap focused on the category of intellectual disability. It explores how drawing boundaries around intellectual disability in capital cases requires law to grapple with fluid scientific and social constructs through a study of how courts operationalize intellectual disability in capital cases. It draws from literatures considering the construction of intellectual disability and law's relationship to the scientific and the social and finds that this intersection first enables a conceptual disconnect between scientific and legal constructions of intellectual disability and, second, invites the use of stereotypes to inform the category. These processes undermine Atkins'—and other categorical exemptions'—ability to functionally limit extreme punishments and also reveal law as mutually constitutive.

10 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article examined what gun offenders know about gun and ammunition regulation in California and found that most respondents had a consistent, albeit general, understanding of the regulations limiting gun acquisition and possession, but their understanding of ammunition restrictions was more limited.
Abstract: Using data from 140 interviews with individuals detained in the Los Angeles County Jail system, this article examines what gun offenders know about gun and ammunition regulation in California. Though most respondents had a consistent, albeit general, understanding of the regulations limiting gun acquisition and possession, analysis suggests that their understanding of ammunition restrictions was more limited. Our sample’s awareness of firearms law is especially important to consider given that they are the very population targeted by firearms regulations and prohibitions at the local, state, and federal level. By examining what detained offenders know about firearms laws, we can better theorize about individual gaps in legal knowledge and the realistic expectations for how understanding of the law can affect behavior.

4 citations


Cited by
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TL;DR: Reading a book as this basics of qualitative research grounded theory procedures and techniques and other references can enrich your life quality.

13,415 citations

01 Jan 2017
TL;DR: Engel and Munger as mentioned in this paper conducted interviews with intended beneficiaries of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to understand how rights and identity affect one another over time and how that interaction ultimately determines the success of laws such as the ADA.
Abstract: "Rights of Inclusion" provides an innovative, accessible perspective on how civil rights legislation affects the lives of ordinary Americans. Based on eye-opening and deeply moving interviews with intended beneficiaries of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), David M. Engel and Frank W. Munger argue for a radically new understanding of rights - one that focuses on their role in everyday lives rather than in formal legal claims. Although all 60 interviewees had experienced discrimination, none had filed a formal protest or lawsuit. Nevertheless, civil rights played a crucial role in their lives. Rights improved their self-image, enhanced their career aspirations and altered the perceptions and assumptions of their employees and coworkers - in effect producing more inclusive institutional arrangements. Focusing on these long-term life histories, Engel and Munger incisively show how rights and identity affect one another over time and how that interaction ultimately determines the success of laws such as the ADA. For anyone concerned with rights, disability and the law, "Rights of Inclusion" should be a landmark work.

190 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This is a reworking (with additions) of the original, radical text of Andrew Scull's Museums of madness, and the thought that this work might be an epitaph is most troubling.
Abstract: case books and diaries and court records have been, or are being, done to a frazzle. In 1979 we had Scull's Museums of madness, its dust-jacket a garish interior of St Luke's Hospital, its title in bold red capitals. In 1994 we have The most solitary of afflictions, its title set in a soft blue box, against a fetching background of van Gogh's Hospital at Arles. This sense of stalemate is not really the fault of Andrew Scull. He has not written a lesser book, nor even a new book, but rather a reworking (with additions) of the original, radical text. The opening chapter still starts with quotes from Marx and Foucault, and \"The social control of the mad\" is still the first sub-heading. There is no hint here that maybe the asylum had some softer tones. However, he acknowledges that he has now had the chance to \"explore sources\" with which he previously had \"only the most glancing acquaintance\", and a much more detailed picture emerges of the world of Victorian responses to mental illness. His summary of the pre-asylum discourse is excellent, and the later additions, which include \"The critics of asylumdom\", \"Degeneration and decay\" and \"Extra-institutional practice\", are better written and embrace much of modem scholarship. His final comment, though, is something of a lament. He suggests that \"Modem psychopharmacology\", as the unambiguous monopoly of the medically trained psychiatrist, is \"thereby fumishing a decisive means of recementing the profession's jurisdictional claims to the value-free realm of medical science\". In one sentence his tone, language, and version of events is seen at a glance. Perhaps most troubling is the thought that this work might be an epitaph. The milling crowds of the \"museum\" have been historically dissected, forgiven their sins, and put out to their solitary-communal lives. The historians and sociologists are departing, and a few dusty archivists and aging psychiatrists are left to carry on the work of uncontroversial recording. Boarded out in his seaside hotel, the chronic schizophrenic has little to say to us, yet when gesticulating from the water towers of those endlessly growing Gothic institutions, he seems to say something about freedom, about the over-control of the rational, about the problems of a Godless society. Without a new dynamic, a new sense of what madness (or psychiatry, or schizophrenia, or what you will) means in terms of social evolution, its historical analysis can only …

149 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
01 Aug 2021
TL;DR: The data highlighting specific risks among particular marginalised and under-resourced communities including those in jails, prisons and detention centers, immigrants and the undocumented, people with disabilities and people experiencing homelessness across the USA are synthesised.
Abstract: Health inequities have long defined health and the healthcare system in the USA. The clinical and research capacity across the USA is unparalleled, yet compared to other high and even some middle-income countries, the average health indicators of the population remain suboptimal in 2020, a finding at least in part explained by inequity in healthcare access. In this context, COVID-19 has rapidly emerged as a major threat to the public's health. While it was initially thought that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 would be the great equaliser as it would not discriminate, it is clear that COVID-19 incidence and mortality have rapidly reinforced health disparities drawn by historical and contemporary inequities. Here, we synthesise the data highlighting specific risks among particular marginalised and under-resourced communities including those in jails, prisons and detention centers, immigrants and the undocumented, people with disabilities and people experiencing homelessness across the USA. The drivers of these disparities are pervasive structural risks including limited access to preventive services, inability to comply with physical distancing recommendations, underlying health disparities and intersecting stigmas particularly affecting racial and ethnic minorities across the country, including African Americans, Latinx Americans and Native Americans. Advancing the COVID-19 response, saving lives and restarting the economy necessitate rapidly addressing these inequities rather than ignoring and even reinforcing them.

136 citations