within the mental model theory (johnson-laird, 1983, 2006; johnson-laird & byrne, 1991), there has been an effort to account for the modulation processes (semantic and pragmatic) involved in conditional reasoning (johnson-laird & byrne, 2002; quelhas & byrne, 2003; quelhas & johnson-laird, 2004, 2005; quelhas, johnson-laird, & juhos, 2010). the present study explores these same processes, envisaging the role of pragmatic modulation as a result of knowledge associated with certain life experiences. a sample of individuals sentenced to imprisonment were selected, and asked to evaluate and reason from a set of deontic conditional sentences (e.g., if a young man can vote, then he has to be at least 18 years old). for the control group, individuals with no previous contact with the legal system were selected. results corroborate the effects of semantic modulation, i.e., conditional sentences of the same form (if p, then q) but of different content are differently interpreted. this means that a set of different possibilities are considered congruent by our participants according to the conditional sentences that were presented. furthermore, individuals seemed to represent different mental models depending on the content of the conditional sentence and, therefore, show distinct inferential patterns in a conditional reasoning task. however, as far as pragmatic modulation is concerned, no differences were detected. inmates interpret deontic sentences similarly to the control group, and also show the same inferential patterns, with no differences in a moral reasoning task.