Inmate Misconduct: Causes and Correlations

Benjamin Steiner
Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Nebraska, Omaha

Key Findings

  • Inmate misconduct is affected by background, demographics, criminal history, inmate institutional routine, experience and prison type.


In “Causes and Correlates of Prison Inmate Misconduct: A Systematic Review of the Evidence,” Steiner conducted a systematic review of inmate misconduct cases from 1980 to 2013 in order to find causes and correlations between misconduct cases. In the past, misconduct was thought to be caused by one of three factors: First, misconduct was thought to be an outlet for the tough experience of being in jail. Second, that the inmate’s personality and character determine misconduct. Finally, misconduct was believed to be a way to gain control and power in prison.  Factors like age, experience and the security type of prison, can impact the amount of inmate misconduct. Steiner’s study shows that an inmate’s personal behavior is not the only factor in misconduct cases and that the type of environment inmates are in can increase or decrease their chances of misconduct.

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