Date of Award

Winter 1979

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


A review of the literature reveals that more and more attention is being focused on the prison as an object of scientific study. Despite its vast dimensions the field has been confined--except in a few instances--to the study of male prisons. The female prison, in the United States and in other countries, has been overlooked. To offset this shortcoming in criminological research, this study seeks to explore the structure of a Greek prison for women offenders.

The data for this study were gathered over a period of approximately one year at Korydullo, the only prison for women offenders in Greece. In the tradition of field research, a combination of methods and techniques were used to collect data: (1) formal interviews were held with higher-echelon staff members, that is, the director, his assistant, the administrative secretary and social workers; (2) formal interviews were conducted with lower echelon staff members, e.g., headguards, their assistants, work supervisors and prison guards; (3) participation in prison functions, such as, meetings between the director and inmates, philanthropic gatherings, special Easter and Christmas services, and concerts put on by local entertainers; (4) scrutiny of prison documents, visitors' ledgers, inmate library cards and dossiers; and (5) administration of two different interview schedules, one for the inmate population, the other for the prison personnel. The schedules were administered to seventy women offenders and forty-eight prison personnel.

In the evaluation of the data, there were three considerations. First, at critical points this work analyzes the relationship between Greek culture and prison life. That is, it investigates the degree to which cultural ideas--among which were: philoxenia (hospitality), philotimo (honor), meson (influential person),--not only permeate and influence behavior in the larger social structure but how these same ideas are manifested in the prison social structure. Second, some consideration is given to drawing out the similarities and differences of Korydullo and other custodial institutions, particularly female prisons in the United States.

Finally, although both inmates and staff are given separate treatment, this work also compares the attitudes and beliefs of one group with those of the other on the following aspects of confinement: (1) the purpose of work and why inmates work, (2) whether confinement reforms inmates, (3) the most difficult aspect of adjustment for prisoners, and (4) the reasons that women commit crimes and are imprisoned.

The findings reveal that Greek cultural ideas--notably: hospitality, honor, use of influential contacts, "we are only human," and compatriots--have a positive effect on prison policy. The data suggest that adherence to these cultural ideas within the prison setting bring about practices which make the prison experience more bearable and humane.