Measurement of prison social climate: A comparison of an inmate measure in England and the USA

Michael W. Ross, Pamela M. Diamond, Alison Liebling, William G. Saylor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


We review and describe prison climate measurement studies. We compared the factor patterns and stability from three domains of the Prison Social Climate survey (PSC) (Environmental quality of life; Personal well-being; and Safety and security). Stability was compared using randomly split halves of inmate responses from 10 selected US federal prison samples (n = 950): there were no significant differences. Factor patterns on the same instrument were compared between the US sample and an English purposive sample (n = 186) of inmates. There were no significant differences between US and English factor patterns, although at a slightly lower level of factor constraint. Factors as factor-scored according to the US factor pattern showed significant differences between the USA and England on the Environmental quality of life scales and the Personal well-being scales, and significant differences on only two of six of the Safety and security dimensions. Data suggest that the PSC is stable within the US sample, and is also stable in its factor pattern between the US and English samples. Prison climate, as measured by the three domains of the PSC selected, appears a stable measure across similar western penal systems and inmate cultures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)447-474
Number of pages28
JournalPunishment and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008


  • Country comparison
  • Environment
  • Prison climate
  • Social climate
  • The UK
  • The USA


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