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Comparative Study of Male and Female Prison Misconduct Careers

NCJ Number
Date Published
A Craddock
By examining patterns of male and female inmate misconduct as a career path that lasts throughout imprisonment, this article provides information on whether the career develops and, if so, on the timing of stages in the career.
Two broad themes framed the research questions and analysis: how individual characteristics were related to rule violations and misconduct careers (rule violations as part of an individual's entire incarceration career). Data were obtained for a cohort of male felons admitted to the North Carolina Division of Prisons in 1980 (n=3,551) and a cohort of female felons admitted from 1976 to 1980 (n=1,315). Each cohort was followed for 5 years from date of admission or until expiration of sentence. Approximately 97 percent of the inmates served 5 years or less. Variables in the analysis included age at admission, minimum sentence length, and offense seriousness. For the misconduct variable, offense category, rule violation category, and custody level at the time of the rule violation were determined. Overall, the major difference between male and female inmates was that approximately half of the men had rule violations, compared to approximately one-third of the women. Approximately 90 percent of the men had fewer than 15 infractions, and 90 percent of the women had fewer than 10 infractions. Both men and women with rule violations tended to be several years younger at admission than the inmates without rule violations. A significantly lower percentage of white males had rule violations compared to minority males, but there were no differences by race for women in this bivariate analysis. Both men and women with rule violations had significantly longer average sentence lengths, approximately twice as long as those with violations. The author advises that these findings must be tempered with the understanding that many possible confounding explanations and enlightening factors have not yet been explored. Suggestions are offered for future research as well as policy and program implications. 2 notes, 3 figures, 5 tables, and 27 references
Date Created: March 15, 2009