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Macro-level perspective on prison inmate deviance

NCJ Number
Punishment & Society Volume: 17 Issue: 2 Dated: April 2015 Pages: 230-257
John Wooldredge; Benjamin Steiner
Date Published
April 2015
28 pages

This macro-level perspective for understanding differences in levels of inmate assaults and nonviolent offenses across U.S. prisons emphasizes the greater relevance of population composition rather than environmental and managerial controls over inmates.


The authors argue that population effects are more relevant due to a heavy reliance on custodial risk assessments which place high concentrations of the most dangerous offenders within particular facilities or units within facilities, rendering these environments less effective for controlling inmate misconduct regardless of tighter security and greater use of administrative controls relative to lower security environments. A partial test of the proposed model was conducted with a national U.S. sample of 247 State prisons for men and women. Results indicate that although both facility and population factors are relevant predictors of offense levels, population effects are stronger and more prevalent. The implications of specific findings are discussed. (Publisher abstract modified)