This study examined predictors of violent misconduct during the early years of imprisonment and the effects of gang affiliation during this time period on violent misconduct.
As in previous studies, results from this study suggest that the observed patterns of violent misconduct signal exploitative and predatory acts by inmates rather than efforts to adjust to the difficulties of imprisonment. Violent misconduct found among newly committed male inmates during the early years of incarceration was significantly more likely to occur among inmates who were younger, who were violent, and who had prior prison experience. Gang affiliation during the early years of incarceration had an effect on violent misconduct independent of the individual risk factors of age, ethnicity, violent history, and prior incarceration. The initial months and years of imprisonment can be a difficult time of adjustment for inmates. New prisoners may be disoriented and fearful on entry to the prison. These problems of adjustment may be the cause of an inmate’s violent misconduct during the early months or years of incarceration. In a situation where violent misconduct is an opportunistic and instrumental act committed by impulsive and predatory inmates who use violence to establish power, obtain privileges, and settle disputes, then violent misconduct would be more likely among gang-affiliated inmates. Utilizing prior research findings as guidance, this study sought to isolate the effects of gang affiliation on violent misconduct during only the first 3 years following commitment to prison and identify those effects only among inmates serving sentences longer than 3 years. Tables, note, and references