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Screening For Risk of Inmate Institutional Violence

28 April 2008


Rates of incarceration and violent crime convictions continue to increase. These increases have also been coupled with higher rates of violent behavior within correctional institutions. Therefore, there is a growing need for efficient and reliable methods for institutions to classify risk potential for inmates and adjust security levels as needed to maintain safety. The current study gathered and evaluated existing research on actuarial (static) and clinical variables for predicting institutional violence. Results were tabulated for comparison of effect sizes. Age, race, history of violence, gang membership, active psychological disturbance, psychopathic or antisocial traits, social or personal achievement, and presence of personality disorders were the most salient and consistent predictors of institutional violence. Empirically supported predictor variables were organized into a proposed screening form designed for use by laypersons to identify inmates with potentially high risk for violence. Although race was an effective predictor variable, it was removed from consideration due to legal and ethical concerns regarding classifying inmates based on race or ethnicity. A normalized and validated version of the proposed screening guidelines could predict institutional violence at a level better than chance.


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