A macro-level perspective on prison inmate deviance

John Wooldredge, Benjamin Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


A macro-level perspective for understanding differences in levels of inmate assaults and nonviolent offenses across US prisons is presented which emphasizes the greater relevance of population composition as opposed to environmental and managerial controls over inmates. We 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 our model was conducted with a national US sample of 247 state prisons for men and women. Results indicate that while 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)230-257
Number of pages28
JournalPunishment and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 28 2015


  • inmate assaults
  • prison environment; prison inmates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law

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