Sex Offenders in Prison: Are They Socially Isolated?

Chantal van den Berg*, Karin Beijersbergen, Paul Nieuwbeerta, Anja Dirkzwager

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Empirical literature has revealed that social isolation can affect the rehabilitation of sex offenders after serving their sentence. This process of social isolation can already start during incarceration due to strained relationships with fellow prisoners and correctional staff. The current study examined to what extent sex offenders felt socially isolated during incarceration, using survey and registered conviction data on a large sample of male adult prisoners from the Prison Project. It was found that support from and relationships with correctional officers and fellow prisoners were perceived less positive by sex offenders than nonsex offenders. No evidence was found for higher levels of loneliness in sex offenders compared with prisoners convicted for a nonsexual offense. In sum, although the effects were small, sex offenders reported more social isolation during imprisonment compared with nonsex offenders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)828-845
Number of pages18
JournalSexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment
Issue number7
Early online date4 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018


  • loneliness
  • prison
  • sex offenders
  • social isolation


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