Staff Perceptions of Risk for Prison Rape Perpetration and Victimization

Valerie M. Gonsalves, Kate Walsh, Mario J. Scalora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Since the inception of the Prison Rape Elimination Act in 2003, increased attention has been directed toward identifying and eliminating acts of institutional sexual violence. However, few empirical studies have systematically explored risk factors that staff perceive as important when ascertaining risk for prison sexual perpetration and victimization. This study examined ratings from 10 staff for 315 female and 1,842 male inmates screened for admission to correctional facilities in a Midwestern state. Overall, findings indicate that a low proportion of inmates were rated medium-high risk for either perpetration or victimization. In addition, results suggest that staff perceived risk factors for sexual violence somewhat differently for female and male inmates. Furthermore, data revealed that staff considered presentation characteristics more relevant than empirically derived risk factors when determining vulnerability to prison rape. Implications for institutional policy and prison sexual assault screening are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-273
Number of pages21
JournalPrison Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • prison rape
  • risk
  • sexual abuse
  • sexual victimization
  • staff perceptions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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