Friends in locked places: An investigation of prison inmate network structure

David R. Schaefer, Martin Bouchard, Jacob T.N. Young, Derek A. Kreager

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The current study investigates informal social structure among prison inmates. Data come from the Prison Inmate Network Study (PINS), a project focused on a unit of a Pennsylvania medium security men's prison. We focus on 205 inmates and their “get along with” network – an approximation of friendship in other settings. We find a weak subgroup structure dominated by two groups of “old heads” and characterized by moderate (non gang-based) race/ethnic clustering. Structurally, the network resembles adolescents in schools, suggesting that prison inmates are capable of successfully building peer associations. We conclude that under the right conditions self-organizing inmate society can foster social integration reminiscent of other social settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-103
Number of pages16
JournalSocial Networks
StatePublished - Oct 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences
  • General Psychology


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