Understanding physical victimization inside prisons: Factors that predict risk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

49 Scopus citations


Research evidence on the prevalence of physical victimization inside prison settings has grown in precision and specificity. Considerably less explored are the factors predicting physical victimization. Using a sample of approximately 7,000 male inmates, a multilevel predictive model of victimization was estimated that includes characteristics of the individual and environment. Overall, prisons with poorer climates (higher levels of inmate dissatisfaction with officers and/or other inmates) had higher rates of inmate-on-inmate and staff-on-inmate victimization. The effect of inmate characteristics on victimization varied by type of perpetrator. Younger inmates, whites, and those with convictions involving sexual victimization were more likely to report physical victimization by other inmates. Characteristics increasing the likelihood of being physically assaulted by staff included non-white, convicted of a violent crime, and higher education. Knowing the characteristics of prisons and inmates that elevate their risk for victimization provides facilities with information that can inform prevention strategies (n = 147).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-475
Number of pages31
JournalJustice Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law


  • Hierarchical generalized linear models
  • Male inmates
  • Physical victimization
  • Prisons

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