Violent victimization among state prison inmates

John Wooldredge, Benjamin Steiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Violent victimization in prison may enhance inmates' cynicism toward legal authority and the risk of subsequent criminality. Both micro- and macro-level effects on the prevalence and incidence of inmate-on-inmate physical assault during a 6-month period were examined for random samples of inmates (n1 = 5,640) from all state prisons in Ohio and Kentucky (n2 = 46). Findings revealed that nonprovoked assaults were more common among inmates with lifestyles that might have increased their vulnerability to victimization (less time spent in structured activities, committed violent acts themselves, etc.), and in prisons with larger populations and officers who practice lax rule enforcement. A supplementary analysis of violent offending also revealed that inmate offenders and victims may look less like each other compared to offenders and victims in the general population. Policies focused on increasing inmates' involvement in structured prison activities, enhancing professionalism among officers, and lowering prison populations may be most effective for minimizing the risk of violent victimization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)531-551
Number of pages21
JournalViolence and Victims
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013


  • Inmate victimization
  • Inmate violence
  • Prisons
  • Violent victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Health(social science)
  • Law


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