Prison Violence

Topics: Prison, Violence, Crime Pages: 11 (2938 words) Published: September 19, 2013
Incarceration rates rose to unprecedented levels in the history of the U.S.’s imprisonment. Therefore, concern about social control of the incarcerated, that is, prisoners’ behavior, has increased. High inmate disciplinary infractions, especially violent infractions, are a threat to the safety of prison, of correctional staff, and of other inmates. Nevertheless, the issue of discipline in prison is important from an economic perspective, because an estimated average cost per infraction at a medium security prison is $970 (Jiang & Fisher-Giorlando, 2002). For these reasons, Jiang & Fisher- Giorlando conducted a research to help explain violent incidents, incidents against correctional staff and incidents against other inmates in prison. Identifying the risk factors of inmates to commit violent acts of misconduct is of great importance to prison administration. This type of research can assist in the classification process of inmates entering institutions as well as the ongoing classification adjustments of inmates already in custody.

This study will identify and investigate factors for violent institutional misconduct. These factors include; however, are not limited to race, age, education and employment, family ties, length of sentence, security level, prison environment and gender. The hypotheses of this study are:

1. Violent prison misconduct is more prevalent among African-American and Hispanic inmates than Caucasians or any other ethnic group. 2. Inmates who are residing in maximum-security facilities are more violent than inmates residing in medium or minimum-security facilities, especially towards correctional staff.

Literature Review


Several studies were conducted to examine the role of race in inmate adjustment process and prison misconduct, especially prison violence. There were indications that there is a direct relationship between race and violent prison misconduct. Those findings support theories such as prison adjustment and subculture of violence, which say that minority groups have higher rates of violence in prison society than white inmates (DeLisi et al., 2004; Griffin & Hepburn, 2006; Gillespie, W., 2005; Jiang & Fisher-Giorlando, 2002; Steiner & Wooldredge, 2009). According to Wayne Gillespie (2005), Caucasian inmates appear less likely to engage in most types of misconduct compared to African American and Hispanic inmates. Blacks are more likely than Whites to evoke protective violent responses to perceived dangerous situations or threats of physical injury by aggressive, violent behavior aimed at protecting self or preventing retaliation (Gillespie, W., 2005).


Age and prison violence had an inverse relationship. The older inmates were, the less likely they were to be involved in violent prison misconduct. Younger inmates were significantly more likely to be involved in violent prison misconduct. This relationship was widespread throughout all the studies (Cunningham & Sorensen, 2007; DeLisi et al., 2004; Griffin & Hepburn, 2006; Jiang & Fisher-Giorlando, 2005; Ruddell et al., 2006; Sorensen & Cunningham, 2008).

Education and Employment

Research shows an inverse relationship between level of education and rates of prison misconduct. As level of education increased, involvement in violent prison misconduct decreased (Cunningham & Sorensen, 2007; DeLisi et al., 2004; Wooldredge et al., 2001). As stated by Wooldredge, Griffin, and Pratt (2001), inmates who were employed prior to incarceration were less likely to be involved in violent prison misconduct. This group was more invested in conforming because they had more to lose. Inmates who worked prior incarceration were more likely than other inmates to be concerned with going home and continuing employment.

Family Ties

Social and family support was inversely related to violent prison misconduct (Cunningham & Sorensen, 2007; DeLisi et al., 2004; Jiang & Fisher-Giorlando, 2005;...

References: Camp, S. D., Gaes, G. G., Langan, N. P., & Saylor, W. G. (2003). The influence of prisons on inmate misconduct: A multilevel investigation. Justice Quarterly, JQ, 20(3), 501-533. Document ID: 434413761.
Cunningham, M. D., & Sorensen, J. R. (2007). Predictive factors for violent misconduct in close custody. The Prison Journal, 87(2), 241-253. Document ID: 0032885507303752.
DeLisi, M., Berg, M. T., & Hochstetler, A. (2004). Gang members, career criminals and prison violence: Further specification of the importation model of inmate behavior. Criminal Justice Studies, 17(4), 369-383. Document ID: 10.1080/1478601042000314883.
Gillespie Wayne, (2005). Racial differences in violence and self-esteem among prison inmates. American Journal of Criminal Justice: AJCJ, 29(2), 161-V. Document ID: 972985931.
Griffin, M. L., & Hepburn, J. R. (2006). The effects of gang affiliation on violent misconduct among inmates during the early years of confinement. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 33(4), 419-448. Document ID: 0093854806288038.
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Jiang, S., & Fisher-Giorlando, M. (2002). Inmate misconduct: A test of the deprivation, importation, and situational models. The Prison Journal, 82(3), 335-358. Document ID: 003288550208200303.
Jiang, S., Fisher-Giorlando, M., & Mo, L. (2005). Social support and inmate rule violation: A multilevel analysis. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 30(1), 71-89. Retrieved from
Ruddell, R., Decker, S
Sorensen, J., & Cunningham, M.D. (2008). Conviction offense and prison violence: A comparative study of murderers and other offenders. Crime and Delinquency, 56(1), 103-125. Document ID: 0011128707307175.
Steiner, B., & Wooldredge, J. (2008). Inmate versus environmental effects on prison rule violations. Criminal Justice and Behavioral, 35(4), 438. Document ID: 1455568521.
Wolff, N., Shi, J., & Siegel, J. (2009). Patterns of victimization among male and female inmates: Evidence of an Enduring Legacy. Violence and Victims, 24(4), 469-84. Document ID: 1825737261.
Wooldredge, J., Griffin, T., & Pratt, T. (2001). Considering hierarchical models for research on inmate behavior: Predicting misconduct with multilevel data. Justice Quarterly, 18(1), 203-231. Retrieved from http://
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