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Gang members, career criminals and prison violence: further specification of the importation model of inmate behavior

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The importation model posits that inmate behavior is primarily an extension of the assorted antisocial behaviors that criminal offenders develop in the community. Persons involved in gangs are viewed as especially at-risk for prison misconduct. Using the official infraction records of 831 male inmates sampled from the southwestern USA, this study explored the prison violence records of inmates involved in street gangs, prison gangs and both types of gangs vis-à-vis chronic offenders. Negative binomial regression models indicated that gang variables were significantly predictive of prison violence only in the full model when various types of gang membership (e.g. street, prison or both) were considered. Overall, the effects of gang membership were smaller than some of the risk factors related to chronic offending, such as history of violence and prior confinement, and other controls such as race. Although investigations of prison violence and misconduct are rightfully and importantly moving toward explanations that integrate importation, deprivation, and situational effects, we conclude that further specification of the importation model is needed.

Keywords: Career criminal; Importation model; Inmate behavior; Prison gang; Street gang

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-12-01

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