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It Ain't Happening Here: Working to Understand Prison Rape

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2005
5 pages
This study examined inmates' thoughts on prison rape and analyzed those thoughts as they were expressed in verbal narratives.
The analysis of rape narratives found shared thematic regularities; when answering questions about rape and more generally social life and sexuality, their narratives showed similar structure and shared cultural meaning. Corrections agencies unique history finds its way into state rape narratives. Inmates associated the termination of the perception of rape to a particular riot or period of administration that enacted major managerial changes. Actually, the data did not show a single substantive contradictory finding on the causes, conditions, and responses to prison rape. The analysis of the semantics of rape narratives found that rape myths encapsulate norms, values, social roles, social boundaries, normative boundaries on social interaction, and generally speaking, the requirements of personal safety. A major finding of this study was that inmate populations across the United States express the strong theme of institutional informal social control, a social force to maintain peace and safety in prison. This study came from the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) with the intent to gain a cultural understanding of prison rape and sexual behavior. Narrative verbal data was gathered in formal interviews with male inmates in close custody and high-security institutions and with female inmates in close and medium-custody across the United States. Five hundred and thirty-three interviews were obtained; the largest and most comprehensive narrative dataset. The range of topics covered linked to prison rape included its context of occurrence and its sociocultural interpretation. The intent was to find inmates' rules of cultural logic that create meanings of prison rape. References

Date Published: November 1, 2005