Victimization Experiences Among Prisoners in the United States: A Reanalysis of BJS Data

Erika Lichter, Harvard School of Public Health
Angela Browne, Harvard School of Public Health

This research is based on data from over 14,000 prisoners in the United States, collected by the Bureau of Justice Statistics in 1997. A re-analysis of these data revealed that over 70% of men and women prisoners have experienced either physical or sexual violence during their lifetimes, compared to the 57% of women and 16% of men previously reported. This re-analysis was conducted in order to add data from behavioral indices of physical violence included in the protocol but left out of previous analyses. The inclusion of five of these behavioral indices greatly increased the overall prevalence estimate, compared to the rates previously reported for this sample (see above). In addition, disaggregation by perpetrator-victim relationship revealed opposite patterns of victimization by gender not included in the original reports. Findings from these re-analyses highlight the impact of measurement and methodological choices in estimating prevalence figures of these behaviors, and emphasize the need for disaggregation that looks beyond who is being assaulted to the relationship between perpetrator and victim. Analyses now underway are examining childhood exposure to violence as a risk factor for victimization, perpetration, and crime type in the aggregate and by gender. These findings also will be presented.

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Updated 05/20/2006