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Assaults on Prison Officers: Interactional Themes

NCJ Number
Justice Quarterly Volume: 8 Issue: 2 Dated: (June 1991) Pages: 243-261
Date Published
19 pages
This study analyzes a sample of 694 official reports of assaultive incidents in a large State prison system over a one-year period.
The data are drawn from "Unusual Incident Reports" submitted to the central offices of the New York State Department of Correctional Services by staff members of the State's correctional facilities. The results suggest that prisoners' assaults on staff members occur in a framework of opposed interests of prisoners and guards. Inmates are subject to the overt and subtle deprivations of prison life and therefore feel compelled to resist attempts to deprive them of the valued commodities of liberty, autonomy, goods and services, sexual relations, and security. On the other hand, correctional officers are called upon to support and maintain the deprivations and pains of imprisonment. Many assaultive acts follow an order, a command, or an expectation communicated by an officer. Conduct by an officer that is perceived to be inconsistent with accepted practice or to be arbitrary, spiteful, or unnecessary may be viewed as an occasion for resistance. Regardless of the immediate cause of the episode, its culmination as an officially reported assault incident stems from the attitudes and behaviors of both prisoner and guard. 2 tables, 5 footnotes, and 30 references (Author abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 1991