1st Edition

Understanding and Reducing Prison Violence
An Integrated Social Control-Opportunity Perspective

ISBN 9781138552609
Published December 4, 2019 by Routledge
188 Pages

USD $160.00

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Book Description

Understanding and Reducing Prison Violence considers both the individual and prison characteristics associated with violence perpetration and violent victimization among both prison inmates and staff.

Prison violence is not a random process; rates of violence vary across prisons and the odds of perpetrating violence or experiencing violent victimization vary across inmates and staff. A comprehensive understanding of the causes of prison violence therefore requires consideration of both individual and prison characteristics.

Building on large dataset comprising 5,500 inmates and 1,800 officers across 45 prisons located across two of the United States (Ohio and Kentucky), this book showcases one of the largest and most comprehensive studies of prisons carried out to date. It considers both the implications of the study for theories of prison violence and the implications of the study for preventing violence in prisons. It will be of interest to academics, practitioners, and policy makers alike.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Introduction

Explaining Prison Violence

A Multi-level Social Control–Opportunity Perspective

Project Background

Overview of Chapters



Chapter 2. Prison Violence: Explanations and Evidence

Violent Offending and Victimization Among Inmates

Deprivation theory

Importation theory

Management theories

Integrated models

General theories of crime and victimization

Violent Victimization of Prison Officers



Chapter 3. A Multilevel Social Control–Opportunity Framework for Understanding Prison Violence

Inmate Violence

Inmate-level contributors to violent offending

Prison-level contributors to violent offending

Managerial contributors to violent offending

Inmate Victimization

Inmate-level contributors to violent victimization

Prison-level contributors to violent victimization

Officer Victimization

Officer-level contributors to violent victimization

Prison-level contributors to officer victimization



Chapter 4. Study Attributes


Facility samples

Cross-sectional inmate samples

Longitudinal inmate samples

Correctional officer samples

Data Sources

Inmate surveys

Officer surveys

Warden survey and observation instrument


Full sample of Ohio and Kentucky inmates

Sub-sample of Ohio inmates confronted by prison staff for rule violations

Sample of Ohio and Kentucky correctional officers

Sample of Ohio and Kentucky prisons

Statistical Analysis





Chapter 5. Identifying the Most Relevant Effects on Violent Offending and Victimization in Ohio and Kentucky Prisons

Inmate Offending

Full sample

Ohio sample

Reduced sample

Inmate Victimization: Full Sample

Violence at Work: Correctional Officer Sample


Chapter 6. Implications for a Multilevel Social Control–Opportunity Theory of In-Prison Violence

A Theoretical Understanding of Violent Offending and Victimization in Prison

Inmate violence

Inmate victimization by violence

Officer victimization and safety

A Theoretically Informed Approach to Reducing In-Prison Violence





Chapter 7. Informing Strategies for Preventing Prison Violence

Facilities and Structure

Custodial Workforce and Resources

Adequately educated, well-trained, and experienced officers

Properly equipped staff

Regular communication among officers

Strong leadership with clear communication of officers’ roles

Proper supervision and support of officers

Effective use of officers

Healthy officer culture

Encourage officers to develop constructive relationships with inmates

Diverse officer workforce

Professional work environment

Regular searches of inmates and cells

Staff exposure in housing units and living areas

Maintain staff perceptions of a safe environment

Programs and Services

Programs to address inmate needs

Productive time use

Facilitate inmate visitation

Sufficient operational budgets

Outlets for inmates to relieve stress

Inmate Populations

Managing large populations

Avoid feeding racial tensions

Managing inmates with authority issues

Considering an inmate’s age and sex

Addressing the recency of substance use

Managing gang members

Preserving (healthy) family relationships

Managing inmates with less commitment to conventional goals



Chapter 8. In-prison Violence: Non-utilitarian Considerations and Future Research

Inmate Litigation Highlighting the Injustice of Violence in Prison

Study Limitations and Directions for Future Research

Geographic scope

Operational concepts

Structural equation modeling within a multilevel framework



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Benjamin Steiner was a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha until his death in January 2019. He held a PhD in Criminal Justice from the University of Cincinnati. His research and publications focused on prisoner misconduct and victimization, the consequences of in-prison misconduct and the use of solitary confinement for sanctioning offenders, and correctional officers’ attitudes and behaviors.
He amassed over 60 publications during his short career, including peer-reviewed journal articles, books, and book chapters.

John Wooldredge holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Illinois. He is a professor in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati. His research and publications focus on institutional corrections (crowding, inmate crimes, and victimizations) and criminal case processing (sentencing and recidivism, and micro- versus macro-level extralegal disparities in case processing and outcomes). He is currently involved in an NIJ-funded study of the use and impacts of restrictive housing in Ohio prisons (with Josh Cochran), and in projects focusing on prison program effects on subsequent misconduct during incarceration and post-release recidivism, and extralegal disparities in prison sanctions imposed for rule violations.