"Make-Believe" Family Relationships exist among Female
A recent study in the Prison Journal found that 28% of
a correctional sample of female inmates in two Texas prisons for
women developed "Familial-like" intimate groups, otherwise
known as "dyads" that offer their members emotional
support, warmth, affections, and many times, sexual gratification.
When informal estimates from correctional staff were taken into
account, that number jumps to 60% involvement in such groups.
Dyads in prison date back to the middle 20th century, but were
mainly known then as female prison subcultures. During the 1960s,
closely-bonded intimate relationships began to form, which in
many staff members' eyes were intended to provide homosexual gratification
to a mostly homosexual membership base. Dyads still exist today,
and misconceptions about their image within the prison environment
may also remain.
They found that the traditional notion of such groups "causing
trouble" for correctional staff is often misguided; correctional
staff, who tend to "profile" these groups and monitor
them more closely than their non-dyad counterparts, consider such
members more trouble to deal with than nonmembers.
An actual disproportionate amount of disciplinary problems, however,
were nevertheless evident, including disturbances caused by jealousy,
members breaking apart, relationships being severed, and increased
opportunity to engage in illicit activities, including homosexual
contact. One inmate in the researchers' study declared that correctional
staff often "instigate" dyad conflict by pitting members
against each other. They also found a significant stigma attached
to the dyad label by nonmembers, encouraging nonmembers to observe
and report illegal activities by the dyad members. In addition,
most of the noninvolved inmates mostly expressed the traditional
sentiment that dyad-members were comprised of sexually-influential
minorities who took unfair advantage of inexperienced White inmates.
references: Huggins, D, Loretta Capeheart, and Elizabeth
Newman. "Deviants or Scapegoats: An Examination of Pseudofamily
Groups and Dyads in Two Texas Prisons." The Prison Journal,
Mar 2006; 86: 114 - 139.