U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Maintaining Prison Order: Understanding Causes of Inmate Misconduct within and Across Ohio Correctional Institutions

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2008
188 pages
Based on an analysis of all adult correctional facilities in Ohio, this study developed a theoretical model of prison disorder that incorporates measures of inmate characteristics, facility environments, and management practices.

This study of order/disorder in Ohio adult correctional facilities found that variables reflective of inmate characteristics, facility environments, and management practices were all relevant to an explanation of inmate misconduct. This suggests that inmate characteristics may interact with characteristics of the facility environment and specific practices of inmate and facility management in determining the level and nature of inmate misconduct. Regarding the impact of management practices, this study found consistent effects on misconduct of inmates' perceptions of the legitimacy of the correctional staff; for example, inmate perceptions of fairness and consistency in defining and responding to inmate misconduct was found to be a significant factor in achieving inmate compliance with the rules. Regarding inmate characteristics, the study observed links between inmate misconduct and age, sex, race, and criminal history. Although the strength of the proposed theoretical model of the causes of prison disorder is its inclusion of multiple relevant factors, this feature makes it difficult to test, because it requires a considerable amount of data from a number of facilities within multiple States in order to establish its general applicability to prison disorders; however, partial tests of the model could still shed light on its applicability. Data for this study were collected as part of a larger project that examined the disciplinary process within and across facilities for adults in Ohio. Data were also obtained from inmate surveys and official statistics. 9 tables, 204 references, and appended Ohio inmate rules of conduct, models from empirical studies of prison disorders, response rate for inmate survey by facility, and specific rule violations within categories of inmate misconduct

Date Published: July 1, 2008