Labeling Theory as a Paradigm for Prison Rape Etiology

Robert D. Hanser, Sam Houston State University

The prison subculture consists of beliefs and attitudes that condone and support prison rape. For victims of prison rape, potential recourse from such victimization is greatly limited. Because of this, many victims of prison rape concede to repeated incidents of victimization that ultimately force the inmate-victim into a role of subservience. Labeling theory is presented as one means of explaining the complex developments that lead from an inmate's first victimization, to the eventual acceptance of their new role. This new social role is rooted in an ascribed social status that ultimately leads to the internalization of their new sex role as part of their self-identity.

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Updated 05/20/2006