Special Issue Paper
Voluntary Consent in Correctional Settings: Do Offenders Feel Coerced to Participate in Research?
Version of Record online: 16 NOV 2011
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Behavioral Sciences & the Law
Special Issue: Research in Criminal Justice Settings: Ethical, Legal, and Methodological Issues, Part 1
Volume 29, Issue 6, pages 771–795, November/December 2011
How to Cite
Edens, J. F., Epstein, M., Stiles, P. G. and Poythress, N. G. (2011), Voluntary Consent in Correctional Settings: Do Offenders Feel Coerced to Participate in Research?. Behav. Sci. Law, 29: 771–795. doi: 10.1002/bsl.1014
- Issue online: 16 NOV 2011
- Version of Record online: 16 NOV 2011
- Manuscript Accepted: 29 SEP 2011
- Manuscript Revised: 23 SEP 2011
- Manuscript Received: 21 JUN 2011
- National Institute of Mental Health. Grant Number: RO1 MH081069
A major ethical concern in research with criminal offenders is the potential for abuse due to coercive influences that may adversely affect offenders' capacity to give voluntary consent to participate in research conducted in correctional settings. Despite this concern, to date there have been almost no systematic scientific investigations of the extent to which offenders themselves perceive that coercion occurs in these settings or that it is likely to influence their decisions about research participation. In a sample of over 600 ethnically diverse men and women recruited from various prisons and community corrections facilities in Texas and Florida, we used a vignette-based survey concerning a hypothetical research project to measure and compare offenders' global perceptions of coercive processes, as well as the differential salience and perceived coercive influence of specific factors (e.g., coercion by other inmates, inducements from staff). Somewhat surprisingly, across multiple outcome measures our participants on average reported relatively little in the way of significant coercive influences on their capacity to make voluntary decisions concerning research participation. Implications and directions for future research on coercive influences in offender research are discussed. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.