Prison visits and inmates’ emotions: a pretest-posttest study

Orly Bachar, Josh Guetzkow*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To examine the effect of prison visits on prisoners’ levels of anger, hostility, and positive feelings and examine which prisoner and visit characteristics moderate visits’ emotional impact. Method: A pretest-posttest study involving 110 male inmates from two maximum security prisons in Israel was conducted. Prisoners were surveyed about their emotions a day before and day following a visit using validated scales to measure state-anger, trait-anger, hostility, and positive feelings. The survey also included questions about characteristics of the prisoner and the visit. Significant change in emotions before and after the visit is assessed with a t-test, and stepwise linear regression is used to examine the association between prisoner and visit characteristics and changes in emotions. Results: State-anger, trait-anger, and hostility all declined following the visit, but the average level of positive feelings did not change. Regression results indicate an association between these changes and prisoner education, crime type, prisoners’ marital status, time in prison, and whether the prisoners’ children were present at the visit. Conclusions: A significant decline in negative emotions following visits points to visits as a beneficial activity for prison inmates; theoretical and practical conclusions are discussed.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)809-833
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Experimental Criminology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.


  • Emotions
  • Hostility
  • Positive feelings
  • Prison visits
  • State-anger
  • Trait-anger


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