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Victimization of Inmates with Intellectual Disability: A Qualitative Study

25 April 2009


Researchers have reported negative psychological effects on inmates who have been victimized and have recently begun to focus attention on unique inmate populations in order to facilitate psychological adjustment to incarceration. The purpose of the present study was to explore the experience of victimization for inmates who are intellectually delayed. A qualitative research project was conducted in which 20 male inmates were interviewed at Oregon State Correctional Institution. The results were organized into three categories: Contributors to Victimization, Inmate Response to Victimization, and Institutional Response to Victimization. Within the Contributors to Victimization category, themes of Internal Characteristics and External Variables emerged. Subthemes of Internal Characteristics included the following: Intellectual Disability, Mental Illness, Age, Physical Stature, Race, and Personal Attributes. Subthemes of External Variables included Environmental Norm, Crime Categorization, Length of Sentence, and Property Ownership. In the second category, Inmate Response to Victimization, themes of Behavioral Response and Emotional Response emerged. Subthemes of Behavioral Response included Verbal Confrontation, Peer Consultation, Positive Peer Affiliation, Reporting, Destruction of Property, Retaliation, Hypervigilance, Avoidance, and Minimization. Subthemes of Emotional Response included Anger, Fear, and Sadness/Depression. In the final category, Institutional Response to Victimization, two themes emerged: Positive Perceptions and Negative Perceptions. Inmate recommendations for Institutional Response are also presented.


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