Assessing the Need for Gender-Specific Explanations of Prisoner Victimization




John Wooldredge & Benjamin Steiner

Justice Quarterly

04 Apr 2014



The literature on differences in the carceral experiences of women and men underscores the relevance of both background (pre-prison) and confinement factors for shaping inmates’ experiences during incarceration, but with a heavier emphasis on linkages between background factors and problems women face during confinement. Here, we apply these ideas to an understanding of sex differences in factors influencing victimization risk during incarceration. Sex-specific models of physical assaults and property thefts were estimated for random samples of inmates from 46 prisons in Ohio and Kentucky. Background factors were more important than confinement factors for influencing assaults on women whereas both sets of factors were relevant for men. Both background and confinement factors were important for predicting theft victimizations for both groups although the magnitude of several effects varied by an inmate’s sex. Findings suggest that effective crime prevention strategies in prison may vary across facilities for women and for men.