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Date of Award


Degree Type

Dissertation (On-Campus Access Only)

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)

Committee Chair

Genevieve Arnaut, PhD, PsyD

Second Advisor

Benson Schaeffer, PhD


Inmates with Asperger's Syndrome face a multitude of problems when they enter the physical and social constraints of prison. As part of the growing population of inmates with developmental disabilities, inmates with Asperger's Syndrome are also more likely than general population inmates to experience abuse in prison (English & Hei!, 2005), encounter less empathy from correctional staff (Glaser & Deane, 1999; Shively, 2004), and have relational difficulties with other inmates (Attwood, 1998; Gordon, 2002). In the current study, the experiences of inmates with Asperger's Syndrome were investigated through qualitative interviews. Five inmates, 4 male and 1 female, from t.he Oregon Department of Corrections participated. Interviews yielded discussions of four major topic areas: daily living, difficulties in prison, perceived benefits of prison, and suggestions for institutional changes. Discussions of the difficulties of living in prison produced two primary experiences: relational problems and lack of freedom. The only perceived benefit discussed by more than 1 participant was less financial stress. Other perceived benefits included increased safety, access to medication, more time to reflect on and appreciate life, and structure. Suggestions for institutional changes were predominantly for more programming, including increased mental health counseling and job training. ii