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Prison Violence Essay

2992 words - 12 pages

Prison Violent Misconduct

Sylwia Chamot

April 20th, 2011

Dr. Hassett- Walker

Senior Seminar

CJ 4600, Section 02

Spring Semester 2011

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 ...view middle of the document...

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; Wooldredge et al., 2001). Inmates with less social and familial support committed significantly more acts of serious prison violence (DeLisi et al., 2004). Moreover, inmates who made and received more telephone calls from children were less likely to commit violent rule violations (Jiang, Fisher-Giorlando & Mo, 2005).
According to Jiang and colleagues (2005) inmates with strong family ties had more to lose if they were involved in violent prison misconduct. Sources of family support included mail, telephone calls, and visitations. Rule violations could result in loss of visiting privileges, which is a strong source of strengthening family ties.


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