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Gendered Violence and Safety: A Contextual Approach to Improving Security in Women's Facilities: Part II of III: Focus Group Methodology and Findings

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2008
158 pages
This second part of a three-part report on a project that investigated the context of gendered violence and safety in women’s correctional facilities presents the study’s focus-group methodology and findings, with attention to the contextual factors and their correlates that contribute to female prisoners’ conflicts and violence.
Both the inmate and staff focus groups agreed that the causes of fighting and other forms of violence in the prison involve jealousy, debts, and disrespect as the major triggers for violence. The researchers argue, however, that these factors are dynamic contributors to the potential for violence; and they interact within the four levels of an Ecological Model that contains factors related to the individual, relationships, particular communities, and society in general. Members of the inmate focus group indicated that they became less worried about physical or sexual violence over the course of their incarceration. They expressed little confidence in the ability of staff members to protect them from violence, either from other female inmates or from staff. Staff felt that their ability to respond to violence among inmates was dependent on inmate reporting of incidents; however, inmates indicated there were significant barriers and liabilities in reporting feared or actual victimization. Other issues addressed in the focus groups were a continuum of violence among inmates, with a separate continuum for sexual violence, and a continuum of coercion in staff sexual misconduct with inmates. A total of 40 focus groups with 161 inmates and 30 staff participants were completed by the research team. The focus group method allowed participants to respond freely to questions regarding their perceptions and experiences. The descriptions of the methodology address the focus group questions, group protocol, the analysis of focus group content, and the characteristics of focus group participants. 11 appendixes that contain protocol, agendas, and forms, and 11 references

Date Published: November 1, 2008