Accounting for Violations of the Convict Code

Heith Copes, Fiona Brookman, Anastasia Brown

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Research over the past several decades shows that those who act in ways inconsistent with desired identities often account for (i.e., excuse or justify) their actions to save face and maintain social identities. While the bulk of research on the use of accounts examines how people make sense of behaviors that go against conventional values, recent research suggests that those who do not adhere to subcultural norms engage in similar talk. The current study builds on the sociology of accounts by exploring whether inmates articulate a convict code; whether they provide accounts for code violations that are comparable to those given by active offenders; and whether incarceration shapes inmates' use of these accounts. Interviews with 40 inmates residing in a maximum security prison suggest that they rely on linguistic devices to align their actions with subcultural beliefs and that the prison environment structures the pattern of these accounts.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)841 - 858
    Number of pages17
    JournalDeviant Behavior
    Issue number10
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2013


    • convict code
    • sociology of accounts
    • inmates
    • maximum security prison
    • subcultural beliefs


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