PRISON OFFICER LEGITIMACY, THEIR EXERCISE OF POWER, AND INMATE RULE BREAKING*

Benjamin Steiner, John Wooldredge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Prison officers are directly responsible for transmitting penal culture and prison policy to the confined, yet few studies of officers’ impact on inmate behavior have been conducted. We examined the effect of inmates’ perceptions of officer legitimacy on rule breaking within prisons, as well as the effects of officers’ reliance on different power bases on rates of rule breaking across prisons. The findings from bi-level analyses of data from inmates and officers from 33 prisons revealed that inmates who held stronger views regarding officer legitimacy committed fewer nonviolent infractions but that perceived legitimacy did not affect the number of violent offenses inmates committed. We also examined a subsample of inmates encountered by officers for a rule violation and found no relationship between perceived legitimacy and subsequent rule breaking, although stronger perceptions of procedural justice related to the incident did directly and indirectly (through perceived legitimacy) coincide with lower odds of nonviolent misconduct. At the prison level, we found that prisons in which officers exercised their authority more lawfully and fairly (positional power) or by relying more on their skills and expertise (expert power) had lower rates of violent or nonviolent rule violations. Prisons in which officers relied more on coercion had higher levels of nonviolent infractions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)750-779
Number of pages30
JournalCriminology
Volume56
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2018

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prison officer
Illegitimacy
Prisons
correctional institution
legitimacy
Coercion
Social Justice
incident
expertise
justice
offense
expert

Keywords

  • inmates
  • legitimacy
  • power
  • prisons
  • rule breaking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Law

Cite this

PRISON OFFICER LEGITIMACY, THEIR EXERCISE OF POWER, AND INMATE RULE BREAKING*. / Steiner, Benjamin; Wooldredge, John.

In: Criminology, Vol. 56, No. 4, 11.2018, p. 750-779.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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