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The author(s) shown below used Federal funds provided by the U.S.
Department of Justice and prepared the following final report:

Document Title:

The Culture of Prison Sexual Violence

Author(s):

Mark S. Fleisher ; Jessie L. Krienert

Document No.:

216515

Date Received:

November 2006

Award Number:

2003-RP-BX-1001

This report has not been published by the U.S. Department of Justice.
To provide better customer service, NCJRS has made this Federallyfunded grant final report available electronically in addition to
traditional paper copies.

Opinions or points of view expressed are those
of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect
the official position or policies of the U.S.
Department of Justice.

THE CULTURE OF PRISON SEXUAL VIOLENCE

MARK S. FLEISHER, PH.D.
CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY

JESSIE L. KRIENERT, PH.D.
ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY

THIS REPORT WAS PREPARED FOR THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE
THROUGH GRANT NUMBER 2003-RP-BX-1001

OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN THIS DOCUMENT DO NOT REPRESENT THE
OFFICIAL POSITION OR POLICIES OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF JUSTICE,
CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY AND ILLINOIS STATE UNIVERSITY
OR ITS TRUSTEES.
Correspondence or inquiries should be addressed to Dr. Fleisher, 216-269-7348,
msfleisher@gmail.com

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

2

TABLES ............................................................................................................................. 7
FIGURES............................................................................................................................ 9
CHAPTER 1. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON PRISON CULTURE AND
SEXUAL VIOLENCE RESEARCH................................................................................ 19
EARLY DECADES OF PRISON SEX RESEARCH ...................................................... 20
1930S TO 1950S ........................................................................................................................................ 20
EARLY DECADES: SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS ..................................................................................... 27

MIDDLE DECADES OF PRISON SEX RESEARCH.................................................... 28
1950S TO 1970S ........................................................................................................................................ 28
Influences of World War II on the conceptualization of prison culture .............................................. 28
SYKES’S INFLUENCE ON THE FUTURE OF PRISON INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT ............................................ 32
MIDDLE DECADES: SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS ................................................................................... 39

MODERN DECADES OF PRISON SEX RESEARCH .................................................. 41
1980S TO 2000S ........................................................................................................................................ 41

THEORETICAL APPROACHES TO INMATE SEXUAL BEHAVIOR....................... 45
Importation vs. Deprivation................................................................................................................ 45
Goffman’s Dramaturgical Sociology .................................................................................................. 46
Race, ethnicity, and aggression .......................................................................................................... 48
Fear of sexual assault ......................................................................................................................... 49
MODERN DECADES: SUMMARY OF KEY FINDINGS .................................................................................. 51

RESEARCH LITERATURE ON WOMEN INMATES.................................................. 51
Pseudo-families................................................................................................................................... 53
Women inmates’ homosexuality.......................................................................................................... 54
Sexual Coercion and Rape.................................................................................................................. 54
Definitional Issues .............................................................................................................................. 55
Prison socialization: pseudo-family vs. the mix.................................................................................. 55
Institutional Factors............................................................................................................................ 57
Research limitations............................................................................................................................ 57
Final Comments .................................................................................................................................. 58

CHAPTER 2. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY .................................... 59
WHAT THIS RESEARCH DID NOT DO ........................................................................................................ 59
INFLUENCE OF CLEMMER’S THEORY OF CULTURE ON METHODOLOGY .................................................... 60

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

3
PRIMARY THEORETICAL-ANALYTIC CONCEPTS................................................. 61
Prison Speech Community .................................................................................................................. 61
Clemmer’s Supra-Individual Theory of Culture ................................................................................. 63

GATHERING LANGUAGE AND CULTURE DATA................................................... 64
ETHNOGRAPHIC VS. NON-ETHNOGRAPHIC QUERIES ................................................................................ 64
Nature of ethnographic questions ....................................................................................................... 64

PROJECT SET-UP ........................................................................................................... 66
Developing a methodology.................................................................................................................. 66
Correctional institution site selection ................................................................................................. 67
Research Team.................................................................................................................................... 70
In the field: asking former inmates about prison sex ......................................................................... 71
Office interviews with former inmates ................................................................................................ 73
Testing the instrument in prison.......................................................................................................... 74
INSTRUMENT DEVELOPMENT: INFLUENCES FROM PREVIOUS RESEARCH ................................................ 76
Conceptual findings ............................................................................................................................ 77
Substantive findings ............................................................................................................................ 78

FINAL INTERVIEW INSTRUMENT: DESCRIPTIVE CATEGORIES ...................... 78
INTERVIEW INSTRUMENT: CATEGORICAL STRUCTURE ............................................................................ 79
Interview instrument: significance in the order of question categories ............................................. 82
INMATE SAMPLING DESIGN ...................................................................................................................... 83
Limitations of sampling design ........................................................................................................... 84
Informed Consent Process .................................................................................................................. 86
Unanticipated events........................................................................................................................... 88
Interview guidelines ............................................................................................................................ 88

ANALYSIS....................................................................................................................... 90
RECURRING “PIECES” OF PRISON-RAPE KNOWLEDGE .............................................................................. 90
Significance of cultural information ................................................................................................... 91
Data collection.................................................................................................................................... 92
Computer aided qualitative analysis................................................................................................... 93
Transferring data to Atlas/ti ............................................................................................................... 94
Advantages of the Atlas/ti Method ...................................................................................................... 94
Weaknesses of Atlas/ti......................................................................................................................... 95
CODES AND CODING ................................................................................................................................. 95
STRUCTURAL AND THEMATIC CODES ....................................................................................................... 96
Structural codes .................................................................................................................................. 96
Thematic codes ................................................................................................................................... 97
Coding process ................................................................................................................................... 98
Data Entry and Verification.............................................................................................................. 100
Themes and cultural significance ..................................................................................................... 101

THEMES......................................................................................................................... 101
SUBSTANTIVE AND CONCEPTUAL THEMES ............................................................................................. 102
Substantive themes ............................................................................................................................ 102

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

4
Conceptual themes ............................................................................................................................ 103
Simple conceptual themes ................................................................................................................. 103
Abstract cultural themes ................................................................................................................... 103
Validity.............................................................................................................................................. 104

CHAPTER 3. SOCIO-CULTURAL AND VERBAL DYNAMICS OF SEXUAL
VIOLENCE..................................................................................................................... 105
DIFFERENTIAL PRISONIZATION: IMPORTATION OF DIVERSITY OF PRISON CULTURE KNOWLEDGE ....... 108
Inmate Socio-Demographics............................................................................................................. 108
Verbal Exposure to Sexual Victimization.......................................................................................... 114
“For-sure” knowledge of prison rape .............................................................................................. 116
“Heard about” prison rape .............................................................................................................. 118
Threats of and worry about prison rape ........................................................................................... 120
Exposure to Media-like Portrayals of Prison Rape .......................................................................... 124
Urban mythology .............................................................................................................................. 126
PRISONIZATION: VERBAL LESSONS OF SOCIALIZATION ......................................................................... 131
DIFFERENTIAL PRISONIZATION: INTEGRATION OF VERBAL SOURCES OF KNOWLEDGE ......................... 132
CULTURAL CONSTRUCTION OF SEXUAL ASSAILANTS ............................................................................ 134
Rapist ................................................................................................................................................ 135
Turn-out artist................................................................................................................................... 140
Rapist vs. bootie bandit..................................................................................................................... 142

PRISON CULTURE’S SEXUAL WORLDVIEW ........................................................ 144
A CAUTIONARY NOTE TO READERS ....................................................................................................... 144
CULTURE OF PRISON HOMOSEXUALITY AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE ........................................................... 145
INMATES’ SUBJECTIVE PERCEPTION OF PRISON SEXUALITY .................................................................. 147
INNER HOMOSEXUAL ............................................................................................................................. 147
Cultural interpretation of sexual identity.......................................................................................... 149
Cultural symbolism of the inner homosexual.................................................................................... 151

INMATE CULTURE’S WORLDVIEW ON SEXUAL VIOLENCE ........................... 153
CHAPTER 4. THE CULTURE OF SEXUAL VICTIMIZATION............................... 158
PRISON SEXUAL CULTURE ...................................................................................... 159
Sexualizing prison culture................................................................................................................. 159
IN-PRISON SEXUAL ROLE TRANSFORMATION ........................................................................................ 164
SEXUAL ASSAULT: JUDGMENT OF AN INMATE JURY .............................................................................. 168
ENTITLEMENT TO SEXUAL VIOLENCE .................................................................................................... 170

PERSONAL DEBTS ........................................................................................................ 174
SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES OF VICTIMIZATION .......................................................................................... 176
“NO REASON FOR RAPE” ........................................................................................................................ 177
VICTIM’S INTERPRETATION OF SEXUAL ASSAULT .................................................................................. 183

SAFE ZONES................................................................................................................. 185

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

5
Cultural forms of vulnerability ......................................................................................................... 186
CULTURAL FORMS OF SELF-PROTECTION............................................................................................... 187
SOCIAL ISOLATION: AVOIDING THE SEX SCENE .................................................................................... 187
AGGRESSIVE POSTURES.......................................................................................................................... 189
Violence ............................................................................................................................................ 189
Physical Strength .............................................................................................................................. 192
PROTECTIVE VALUE OF PARTNERS AND COMPANIONS ........................................................................... 192
Schooling .......................................................................................................................................... 194
Closeness to Staff .............................................................................................................................. 194
FAMILY, FRIENDS, AND LOVERS: SOCIAL AND INTIMATE RELATIONS .................................................. 195
Friends and family ............................................................................................................................ 195
Domestic relations ............................................................................................................................ 197
Domestic violence ............................................................................................................................. 201
Gangs................................................................................................................................................ 202
Religious group affiliation ................................................................................................................ 204
CULTURAL DISTINCTIVENESS AMONG ACTS OF PRISON SEX .................................................................. 207
Mutual sex......................................................................................................................................... 208
Degrees of sexual pressure ............................................................................................................... 208
Sexual violence ................................................................................................................................. 210
Summary: distinctive cultural characteristics of sexual acts ........................................................... 211

CHAPTER 5. MANAGEMENT OF PRISON SEXUAL VIOLENCE ........................ 212
INMATES’ PERCEPTIONS OF THE MANAGEMENT OF INMATE SEXUAL
BEHAVIOR.................................................................................................................... 213
Salience of cultural knowledge ......................................................................................................... 213
STAFF VERBAL MESSAGES ABOUT SEXUAL BEHAVIOR AND SEXUAL VIOLENCE ................................... 214
STAFF INFLUENCE ON SEXUAL CONDUCT AND INSTITUTION PRACTICES OF SOCIAL CONTROL .............. 220

VISUALIZATIONS OF INMATES’ PERCEPTIONS OF KEY MANAGEMENT
ISSUES ........................................................................................................................... 229
CORRECTIONAL PRACTICE RECOMMENDATIONS .................................................................................... 230
COMMISSARY EXPENDITURE ANALYSIS ................................................................................................. 233
INCIDENT REPORT ANALYSIS ................................................................................................................. 234
HOUSING-UNIT SUPERVISION ................................................................................................................. 236
Focused shakedowns......................................................................................................................... 241
Observation logs ............................................................................................................................... 242

ANALYSIS OF INMATES’ MANAGEMENT PERCEPTIONS ................................. 242
INMATE ORIENTATION............................................................................................................................ 242
WRITTEN SEXUAL PRESSURE GUIDELINES ............................................................................................. 243
CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS TALK ABOUT PRISON RAPE .......................................................................... 246
INMATES REPORTING RAPE TO CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS ..................................................................... 247
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER-INMATE SEXUAL AFFAIRS ............................................................................. 248
CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS ABILITY TO PREVENT INMATE SEXUAL AFFAIRS .......................................... 248
CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS’ TRYING TO PREVENT INMATE-ON-INMATE RAPE ........................................ 251

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

6
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER-ON-INMATE SEXUAL ASSAULT ...................................................................... 255
INMATES’ FALSE RAPE ALLEGATIONS AGAINST CORRECTION STAFF .................................................... 257
POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CORRECTIONAL PRACTICE ................................................................ 261

REFERENCES ............................................................................................................... 268
APPENDIX A: LEXICON OF THE CULTURE OF PRISON SEX ............................ 277
APPENDIX B: INTERVIEW PROTOCOL.................................................................. 299
APPENDIX C: SAMPLING PROCEDURE................................................................ 310
APPENDIX D: PROTOCOL MODIFICATION .......................................................... 312
APPENDIX E: THEMATIC CODEBOOK .................................................................. 316
APPENDIX F: SPSS CODEBOOK .............................................................................. 322

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

7
Tables
Table 1 Demographics and Offense Statistics .............................................................. 110
Table 2 Sampled Inmates' Marriage History and Pre-imprisonment Sexual Preferences
......................................................................................................................................... 112
Table 3 Inmates’ Perceptions of For-Sure Knowledge of Prison Rape by Gender and 117
Table 4 Inmates’ Perceptions of For-Sure Knowledge of Prison Rape by Gender and 117
Table 5 Inmates’ Perceptions of Hearing about Prison Rape by Gender and Time Served5yrs.................................................................................................................................. 119
Table 6 Inmates’ Perceptions of Hearing about Prison Rape by Gender and Time Served10yrs................................................................................................................................ 120
Table 7 Inmates’ Perceptions of Threats and Worry about Prison Rape by Gender andT
Time Served-5yrs............................................................................................................ 122
Table 8 Inmates’ Perceptions of Threats and Worry about Prison Rape by Gender and
Time Served-10yrs.......................................................................................................... 123
Table 9 Inmates’ Perceptions of Media-like Portrayals of Prison Rape by Gender and
Time Served-5yrs............................................................................................................ 125
Table 10 Inmates’ Perceptions of Media-like Portrayals of Prison Rape by Gender and
Time Served-10yrs.......................................................................................................... 125
Table 11 Exposure to Prison Rape Urban Myths by Gender and Time Served, 5yrs.... 127
Table 12 Exposure to Prison Rape Folklore Urban Myths by Gender and Time Served,
10yrs................................................................................................................................ 128
Table 13 Inmates’ Reports of Knowing a Rapist Killed in Prison-5yrs. ....................... 136
Table 14 Inmates’ Reports of Knowing a Rapist who was Killed in Prison-10yrs ....... 136
Table 15 Inmates’ Perceptions of Turn-out vs. Rape by Gender and Time Served, 5yrs.
......................................................................................................................................... 140
Table 16 Inmates’ Perceptions of Turn-out vs. Rape by Gender and Time Served, 5yrs.
......................................................................................................................................... 141
Table 17 Pre-Imprisonment Sexual Preference and Sexual Experience by Gender...... 160
Table 18 Pre-Imprisonment Sexual Preference and Experience by Length of Time
Served-5yrs ..................................................................................................................... 162
Table 19 Male Inmates by Time Served, More and Less than 10 years........................ 163
Table 20 Estimated Sexual Preference for 100 General Population Inmates ................ 165
Table 21 Estimates of Sexual Orientation by Time Served-5yrs................................... 166
Table 22 Estimates of Sexual Orientation by Time Served-10yrs.................................. 167
Table 23 Inmates’ Perceptions of Rapists’ Entitlement to Commit Sexual Assault by
Gender and Time Served, 5yrs........................................................................................ 172
Table 24 Inmates’ Perceptions of Rapists’ Entitlement to Commit Sexual Assault by. 173
Table 25 Inmates’ Perceptions of Rape Victim’s Companions’ Retaliation by Gender and
Time Served-5yrs............................................................................................................ 181
Table 26 Inmates’ Perceptions of Rape Victim’s Companions’ Retaliation by Gender and
Time Served-10yrs.......................................................................................................... 182
Table 27 Inmates’ Perception of the Use of Kinship Terms by Gender and Time Served,
5yrs.................................................................................................................................. 196
Table 28 Inmates’ Perception of the Use of Kinship Terms by Gender and Time Served,
10yrs................................................................................................................................ 197

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

8
Table 29 Inmates’ Perceptions of Staff Verbal Messages by Gender ........................... 216
Table 30 Men Inmates’ Perceptions of Staff Verbal Messages by Time Served-5yrs .. 219
Table 31 Women Inmates’ Perceptions of Staff Verbal Messages by Time Served-5yrs
......................................................................................................................................... 220
Table 32 Inmates’ Perceptions of Management Responses by Gender......................... 222
Table 33 Men Inmates’ Perceptions of Management Responses by Time Served-5yrs 223
Table 34 Women Inmates’ Perceptions of Management Responses by Time Served-5yrs
......................................................................................................................................... 225
Table 35 Men Inmates’ Perceptions of Management by Time Served-10yrs ............... 226
Table 36 Women Inmates’ Perceptions of Management by Time Served-10yrs .......... 228
Table 37 Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional System’s Ability to Protect Inmates from
Rape by Gender and Time Served-5yrs .......................................................................... 232
Table 38 Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional System’s Ability to Protect Inmates from
Rape by Gender and Time Served-10yrs ........................................................................ 233
Table 39 Men Inmates’ Perceptions of Staff Management by Housing Type............... 237
Table 40 Women Inmates’ Perceptions of Staff Management by Housing Type ......... 238
Table 41 Inmates’ Awareness of Institutions Posted Sexual Pressure Guidelines by
Gender and Time Served-5yrs ........................................................................................ 244
Table 42 Inmates’ Awareness of Institutions’ Posted Sexual Pressure Guidelines by
Gendera and Time Served-10yrs .................................................................................... 245
Table 43 Inmates Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Prevent Inmates’
Sexual Affairs by Gender and Time Served-5yrs ........................................................... 250
Table 44 Inmates Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Prevent Inmates’
Sexual Affairs by Gender and Time Served-10yrs ......................................................... 251
Table 45 Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Prevent Inmate-onInmate Rape by Gender and Time Served-5yrs.............................................................. 252
Table 46 Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Prevent Inmate-onInmate Rape by Gender and Time Served-10yrs............................................................ 253
Table 47 Mean Level of Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Ability to
Prevent Inmate-on-Inmate and Inmate Sexual Affairs by Gender and Time Served-5yrs,
10yrs................................................................................................................................ 255

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

9
Figures
Figure 1 Men Inmates’ Exposure to Verbal Messages about Prison Rape.................... 133
Figure 2 Women Inmates’ Exposure to Verbal Messages about Prison Rape .............. 134
Figure 3 Inmates’ Distinctions among Six Socio-Sexual Roles .................................... 146
Figure 4 Domestic Violence among Dating Inmates..................................................... 202
Figure 5 Graph of Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional System’s Ability to Protect
Inmates from Rape by Gender and Time Served-5yrs, 10yrs......................................... 231
Figure 6 Graph of Inmates’ Perceptions of Posted Rape Guidelines by Gender and Time
Served-5yrs, 10yrs .......................................................................................................... 244
Figure 7 Graph of Inmates’ Agreement on Hearing Officers Talk about Rape by Gender
and Time Served-5yrs ..................................................................................................... 246
Figure 8 Graph of Inmates’ Agreement on Knowing about Inmates Reporting Rape to an
Officer by Gender and Time Served-5yrs....................................................................... 247
Figure 9 Graph of Inmates’ Agreement on Knowing of Inmate-Officer Sexual Affairs by
Gender and Time Served-5yrs ........................................................................................ 248
Figure 10 Graph of Inmates Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Prevent
Inmates’ Sexual Affairs by Gender and Time Served-5yrs, 10yrs ................................. 249
Figure 11 Graph of Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Protect
Inmates from Rape by Gender and Time Served-5yrs, 10yrs......................................... 252
Figure 12 Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Ability to Prevent Inmate
Sexual Affairs and Inmate Rape by Gender and Time Served-5yrs, 10yrs .................... 254
Figure 13 Graph of Inmates’ Agreement on Knowing of Officer-Inmate Rape by Gender
and Time Served-5yrs ..................................................................................................... 257
Figure 14 Graph of Inmates’ Agreement on Knowing of Inmates’ False Allegations of
Rape against Correctional Officers by Gender and Time Served-5yrs........................... 258

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

10

Executive Summary
The goal of this research was a nationwide study of the culture of prison inmate
sexual violence. The principal investigators, at the behest of the National Institute of
Justice, conducted a socio-cultural study of prison sexual violence in men’s and women’s
high-security prisons across the United States. A multidisciplinary advisory panel
composed of prominent scholars and correctional practitioners contributed to research
design and methodology.
This study’s qualitative methodology involved collecting interview data in
comprehensive, semi-structured interviews. These interviews allowed inmates to freely
express their subjective perceptions on sexual violence. The interview instrument was
culturally sensitive and pre-tested in men’s and women’s prisons. A systematic sampling
design resulted in selecting 564 inmate participants (408, men; 156, women) in 30
prisons in 10 States. Strict procedures protected the anonymity and confidentiality of
both the prisons in the study and the inmate participants.
Inmate participants were experienced in prison life. At the time of their
interview, 66.3 percent of men and 46.3 percent of women had served more than 60
months; 63.1 percent of men and 35.1 percent of women had served more than 120
months. Race and ethnicity was distributed across the sample as follows: 46.8 percent
black, 40.2 percent white, 9.9 percent Hispanic, and 3.0 percent other. Prior to their
imprisonment, 22.4 percent of male inmates, and 25.8 percent of women inmates selfreported gay or bisexual relationships.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

11
According to the analysis, women perceived that 59.7 percent of the other inmates
in their prisons were gay and 11 percent were “on the down low” (practiced socially
hidden same-sex relations). Men inmates perceived that 14.8 percent were gay, and 27.5
percent were “on the down low.” Additionally, in their respective prisons, women and
men inmates were asked for their subjective estimate on homosexual behavior. Women
inmates perceived that 70.7 percent of inmates engaged in homosexual conduct; men
inmates perceived that 42.3 percent of inmates engaged in homosexual conduct.
Inmates were asked for their subjective estimate on sex-related prison
management issues. Sixty-six percent of men inmates and nearly 71 percent of women
inmates reported they were aware of inmate-staff mutual sex relationships. Collectively,
9.1 percent of men and women inmates reported they were aware of a case of an inmate
raped by a staff member. Among men and women inmates, respectively, 33.5 percent
and 28.2 percent indicated they knew of inmate-reported rape to staff. Nearly 38 percent
of men and 51.2 percent of women knew of false rape allegations against staff.
The analysis of the study related to inmate safety had qualitative and quantitative
findings. A majority of inmates reported that inmates’ safety—protection from physical
and sexual assault, was the personal responsibility of inmates, independent of institution
efforts to protect them. Regardless of these personal perceptions, 28.2 percent and 31.5
percent, respectively, reported that a correctional system’s policies and procedures can
protect them against rape. Men and women inmates reported on average that 56.8
percent and 62.5 percent, respectively, of correctional officers try to protect them against
rape. Five percent of women and 22.0 percent of men reported they were certain that at
least one rape occurred in an institution they were housed in their life-time experience of

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

12
imprisonment. Nine percent of women inmates and 21.3 percent of men inmates reported
some worry or sense of threat caused by a potential rape. Inmates reported they did not
fear imminent rape. However, they acknowledged such behavior may occur.
This study conducted a culturally sensitive analysis of prison inmates’ subjective
perceptions of prison sexual violence. Prison socialization gave them a shared body of
cultural knowledge and rules of behavior on social-sexual conduct and sexual violence.
The qualitative analysis of hundreds of hours of interview data had six major
findings:
(1) Inmate culture has a complex system of beliefs and norms on sexual conduct. Beliefs
and norms in concert with numerous social and economic issues create multiple
interpretations of aggressive sexual conduct. Acts of similar sexual violence that occur in
one context may have a different interpretation in another context. Interpretation depends
on the pre-assault behavior of the victim, assailant, and other inmates’ perceptions of the
causes of the sexual violence. However, men and women inmates reported that prison
rape as they defined it did not frequently occur.
(2) Inmates reported they “self-police” the prison community in an effort to maintain
peace and social order.
(3) Inmates reported numerous protective social arrangements, such as religious groups,
recreation friendships, and support by older inmates, to facilitate safety from physical and
sexual violence. These arrangements also provide men and women inmates with social
and emotional support.
(4) Inmate sexual culture allows for inmates’ disagreement on the meaning of acts of
sexual violence in similar contexts. Some inmates may interpret sexual violence as rape

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

13
while others interpret a similar act as sexual violence other than rape. A key issue that
distinguishes the meaning of sexual violence hinges on the response of a victim toward
an aggressor after the act of sexual violence.
(5) Prison inmates judge prison rape as detrimental to inmates’ social order. Prison
rapists are unwelcome in a prison community.
(6) While men’s and women’s prisons show differences in observable social behavior,
these prison cultures share a system of cultural beliefs, values, and norms. This shared
culture results in similar subjective interpretations of sexual violence.
This project led to research-oriented recommendations with practice-oriented
implications. Research recommendations would strengthen evidence-based practices.
Staff training should emphasize heightened awareness of inmates’ informal activities.
Interviews with inmates indicate that correctional officers disregard inmates’ informal
activity in dorms and cell blocks. Who inmates hang out with, why they hang out with
certain other inmates, social group composition, and so on, would give line staff direct
observational input on potential pairings of sexual aggressors and victims.
Interview data showed that scared or naive inmates may not participate in social
activities, such as watching television in a day room or playing cards. Rather, these
inmates and those who have previously been victimized may remain within close
proximity to their cells or bedding area in dorms. Victims of physical and/or sexual
violence may not use shower facilities out of fear of further sexual or physical attacks.
Line-staff observational training could enhance corrections officers’ abilities to observe
inmate social patterns. These direct, low-cost approaches to supervision would enable
staff to systematically gather information on social interactions. This information could

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

14
be the basis of pre-emptive violence prevention and intervention. As a result of these
changes in observational behaviors, corrections officers would be more likely to identify
sexual aggressors resulting in these inmates being transferred to other housing units or
institutions before the violence occurred.
Interviews consistently reported that rapists are unwelcome in mainstream inmate
society, they have few companions, and their social life rests on the margin of inmate
society. These insights can be tested with formal methods of social network analysis. If
rapists could be identified through officer observation of the inmates’ marginal behavior,
institutions could devise pre-emptive approaches to identify and isolate potential rapists.
Observation data in concert with incident report information could provide the
basis of a formal analysis of inmate social networks. Inmates hang out with different
companions for different reasons. Some companions hang out for legitimate and
nonviolent recreation, such as playing cards or watching television. Other companions
hang out for illicit reasons, including physical, sexual, or economic exploitation of noncombative inmates. While systematic observations can provide some information on
these groupings, the analysis of social affiliations from incident reports can be the basis
of creating a graphic visualization of inmates’ social interactions. Such visualizations
illustrate how inmates are linked to one another for particular reasons.
Interviews reported that debts were often a cause of physical or sexual violence.
Staff analysis of commissary expenditures matched against incident reports and staff
observations could identify inmates who are economic aggressors. This analysis could
also identify inmates who have no commissary expenditures. These inmates are at high
risk of borrowing goods from other inmates. Borrowing without repayment can lead to

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

15
sexual violence. The act of borrowing itself puts a borrower in a passive position and
subject to others’ whims. These whims may include sexual favors to repay debts.
Additionally, new inmates are given the opportunity to purchase commissary goods.
However, older inmates prey on new inmates. Aggressive inmates may steal goods or
conjure a manipulative relationship with new inmates. Such a relationship, interviews
showed, may end in sexual favors or sexual violence. This suggests that institutions
should regulate and carefully monitor new inmates’ commissary purchases. At this point,
incident report analysis and observation information would help staff find aggressive
inmates who steal from new inmates.
This research as well as previous studies of prison social and economic systems
shows that prison social and economic sub-systems are integrated. However, this
research shows that inmate culture—inmates’ learned and shared norms, beliefs, and
rules, have a strong influence on inmate behavior. Single innovations, such as additional
cameras or improved supervisory practices alone may not facilitate a long-term decrease
in sexual violence.
Interview data analysis had implications for the improvement of new-inmate
orientation. New inmates experience high levels of anxiety. Many new inmates who
have no prison experience reported that staff orientation leaders frightened them with
likelihood of rape inside the institution. Staff did not act to mitigate their fears and
worries about rape; rather, inmates said, they were told they would have to learn ‘how to
handle it.’ Inmates reported that staff said sexual violence was part of prison life; some
inmates said staff told them that sexual victimization was part of their punishment. On
the other hand, when inmates entered the mainstream inmate population they did not

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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16
encounter sex aggression or they were supported by older inmates or inmates they knew
from free society. Generally, inmates said staff ‘tortured’ them with threats of sexual
victimization. Only later did they find prison life safer than they had expected.
Data analysis shows that inmates’ level of worry about rape remains relatively
low over their period of incarceration. However, inmates hear gossip about rape
incidents or tales of egregious rape that happened long ago. Only after inmates are
socialized do they realize that what they hear about rape does not necessarily match their
direct experiences.
Inmate orientation trainers must provide a balanced account of sexual and other
types of violence. Trainers must never intentionally or unintentionally use the threat of
sexual violence to manipulate inmates and frighten them. Trainers must always reinforce
positive trends in inmates’ social life and in staff-inmate communication relationships.
Staff must always tell inmates that their fears and worries about rape will be taken
seriously. Inmates often said correctional officers disregard or discount or devalue
inmates’ concerns over sexual or physical violence. Corrections administrators should be
sensitive to the concerns of incoming inmates and train their staff appropriately to deal
with these fears. Staff should be trained in positive forms of communication. They must
learn how to express empathy toward inmates. They must learn how best to handle
anxious inmates and those whose fears of sexual violence are justifiably real.
Inmates reported that generally line-staff interact with them in a professional
manner. However, there are some who, inmates said, despise them only because they are
inmates or in some cases are known or suspected to engage in homosexual behavior.
Line-staff who inmates perceive to be fair and professional should train other correctional

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17
officers to engage in similar professional behavior. Institutions must make a concerted
effort to retrain professional corrections staff and reinforce the need for objective,
professional interactions with inmates. Inmate complaints about alleged homophobes
should be taken seriously. Obvious homophobic behavior by staff should be dealt with in
a serious manner. Abundantly clear from the data are the serious management
implications of poor staff communication and shirked responsibilities in supervising and
treating all inmates fairly and professionally.
Inmates said that reporting sexual pressure or rape to staff most often results in
the deterioration of a victim’s lifestyle. He or she would be locked down in
administrative detention while staff conducted an investigation. Some inmates said they
could be locked down for years or transferred to another institution, where they’d have to
assimilate to a new mainstream population. All the while, a sexual aggressor whose guilt
was not substantiated may be returned to general population. Institution practices must
design mechanisms that are not perceived as punishment for victims who report rape.
Women inmates reported that staff-inmate mutual sexual relationships are rather
common (as data showed). Inmates said that such relations, while bringing them
contraband or other material goods, erode their trust in staff; to paraphrase, ‘if we cannot
trust staff to obey the rules, why should we.’ The erosion of trust becomes complicated
when staff-inmate sexual relations cause jealousy and strife among inmates. The data in
this study is clear: Women inmates know about sexual relations between inmates and
male and female staff. Financial rewards offered to staff and inmates may encourage
them to report violators of the sexual prohibition against sex with inmates.

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18
Overall, the data show that correctional, program, and administrative staff have a
limited understanding of the cultural and social dynamics of inmate social life. A more
realistic appraisal of the staff’s impact on inmates’ behavior and anxieties, coupled with
serious institution remedies for failing to meet professional standards would create a
more positive inmate culture, which in turn would contribute to long-term formal and
informal mechanisms to prevent sexual violence

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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19
CHAPTER 1. HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES ON PRISON CULTURE AND
SEXUAL VIOLENCE RESEARCH
This literature review analyzes eight decades of scholarship on prison culture,
prison sexuality, and prison sexual violence. Two complementary perspectives guided
the literature analysis. First, research studies’ contributions to the field of prison
sexuality and sexual violence were abstracted and key issues highlighted. Second,
particularly influential studies, such as Fishman’s 1934 and Clemmer’s 1940 research,
were analyzed for their historical influence on contemporary prison theory of sexuality
and sexual violence.
Research studies are reviewed by decade –1930s to 1950s; 1960s to 1980s; and 1990s
to 2000s. The history of prison sexual culture studies have focused on men’s prisons.
However, in the past 20 years the rate of women’s imprisonment has increased and so has
interest in women’s prison research. This literature review examines men’s and
women’s prison research but does so separately. There are three reasons for a separate
review of men’s and women’s studies. First, early and middle decades of prison research
were dominated by men’s prison studies. While today’s literature on prison culture
studies includes men’s and women’s prison studies, the core knowledge of prison sexual
violence derived from men’s prison research. Second, men’s and women’s prison studies
show an early emergence of gender distinctions. This gender-based distinction led to
significant interpretative differences for men’s and women’s prison sexual behavior. An
early gender distinction led to a tacit assumption between women’s and men’s prison
culture. Third, men’s and women’s prison research took different conceptual paths.
Men’s prison studies posited homosexuality and sexual violence as forces determining

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20
the very nature of men’s prison culture. Women’s prison studies looked past sexual
violence and focused on the complexities of social relations.
Together these disparate but complementary studies lack a holistic interpretation
of gender-based prison culture research. The interests of researchers tacitly created a
dualistic, macro-level theory of prison culture distinguishing men’s vs. women prison
culture. Instead, the end product of this literature review will be an argument for a single,
macro-theory positing a single prison culture with gender-based behavioral variations.
Such a distinction becomes significant in sexual-violence prevention. A dualistic theory
infers distinctive forms of prevention and intervention. A single culture theory suggests
common prevention and intervention mechanisms adjusted by gender. The former would
be more expensive and complex to develop, given the lack of research in women’s prison
studies. The latter would be more economical and be able to exploit nearly 80 years of
research history.
Early Decades of Prison Sex Research
1930s to 1950s
Joseph F. Fishman’s 1934, Sex in Prison: Revealing Sex Conditions in American
Prisons, explored an area of social scientific inquiry few understood 70 years ago.
Fishman’s theoretical premise, although not specifically named by him, became known
as deprivation theory: incarcerated men, driven by the irrepressible need for sexual
release, and deprived of “normal” heterosexual outlets, engage in same-sex relations. He
distinguished between men who succumb to their need for sexual release and those men

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21
who are forced or coerced into same-sex relations.1 Fishman assumed that sexual
deprivation was the primary source of the ills of prison life.
Should you doubt that deprivation of liberty constitutes the real punishment to a
prisoner, imagine yourself living a first class hotel, the only condition being that
you do not leave the building. I am sure you would tire of it in a week. Then
imagine yourself confined there for from five to twenty-five years, and you can
get some idea perhaps of how monotonous and irksome incarceration becomes
even under the best of conditions. Fishman wrote: “but you are just one person.
Assume now that there are about two thousand of the same sex in the hotel with
you under exactly similar conditions, and that you see these same people, and no
others, day in and day out, month after month, and year after year” (p. 165).
His work gave a broad outline of the culture of prison sex, and a limited lexicon
of prison socio-sexual terminology. This was an important first step at recognizing the
interplay between verbal labels and social roles. He recognized openly homosexual men
known as “fairies,” “fags,” “pansies,” or “girls.” They exhibited effeminate traits, and
were common targets of sexual predation. The ascription of sexual proclivities to
physical characteristics became a dominant theme in prison socio-cultural research,
which continues to the present day (see Hensley, Tewksbury, and Castle, 2003). There
were “wolves” or “top men” who were predators who targeted fairies and younger
inmates of slight build perceived to be effeminate. Fishman considered the majority of
1

Fishman’s concept of deprivation seems to derive from Freud’s 1905 exposition of sexuality in Three
Essays of Sexuality. Freud made the distinction noted here. He wrote that people derived of sexual
expression will resort to (his word) “intercourse” with members of their sex. Freud wrote: “under certain
external conditions—of which inaccessibility of any normal sexual object [exists] . . . they are capable of
taking as their sexual object someone of their own sex and of deriving satisfaction from sexual intercourse
with him” (Freud, 1905/1962, p. 3). Fishman may have misinterpreted Freud’s connotation of ‘normal.’
Freud’s intent was not abnormal or deviant as interpreted today. Freud’s technical use of normal would be
synonymous with ‘baseline,’ as a baseline form of sexual expression.

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22
wolves to be formerly heterosexual men who were driven to homosexuality and sexual
predation as a result of sexual deprivation.
Fishman captured the social dynamics of sexual pursuit. He noted that wolves
may “court” other inmates, sometimes quite persistently and over a long period of time,
and shower them with gifts and favors, hoping to make the target into a “girl.”
They usually begin with a friendly offer to protect the newcomer, and to
see that his life in prison is made as easy as possible for him. This offer is
often gratefully accepted by the new inmate because he is not yet
accustomed to prison life. . . . The first advance is usually followed by
the giving of small presents, such as a box of cigarettes purchased from
the prison commissary. Unless the new prisoner has someone to ‘put him
wise,’ assuming that he does not know the object of these advances, he
gradually slips into a position of helpless dependency on his self-styled
protector. When the final purpose of these attentions becomes known, and
if the object of them resists, he is very often threatened with physical
harm. (p. 84)
In addition to the physical violence often suffered by targets of sexual aggression,
Fishman emphasizes the moral degradation of becoming a “pervert” and facing the
physical harm he believed to be caused by long-term homosexual activity.2

2

Fishman refers to homosexuality as moral degradation. Freud did too, but Freud did not judge
homosexuality. Freud did not use degradation to infer moral degeneration. In the gentile time of the day,
Freud called homosexuals inverts and homosexuality inversion. Inverts, wrote Freud, “do not have a
compelling need for sex. Inversion and sex do not coincide. . . . outpourings of emotion . . . are
commoner among [inverts] than among heterosexual lovers” (p. 11-12). The association of prison
homosexuals with publicly displayed emotions (vs. the stoic image of the non-emotional heterosexual
male) appears often in the literature. Additionally, Freud wrote: “Several facts go to show that in this
legitimate sense of the word inverts cannot be regarded as degenerate: (1) Inversion is found in people who
exhibit no other serious deviations from the normal” (Freud, 1962, p. 4).

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23
Clemmer’s The Prison Community (1940) made a major conceptual contribution
to prison research by identifying culture as a topic of formal study:
. . . a more obvious principle is that the prison, like other social groups,
has a culture. “Culture” may be defined as those artificial objects,
institutions, modes of life or thought which are not peculiarly individual,
but which characterize a group and have both special and temporal
contiguity; or, in the oft quoted words of Tylor (1924 [orig. 1871]),3 as
“that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law,
custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a
member of society.” Culture, therefore, is supra-individual. . . To
understand the culture of the prison, knowledge of certain fundamental
processes of human interaction is necessary. To the sociologist culture is
societal structure, and the social processes are functions. (p. 86-87).
The Prison Community exposed structures and functions of prison culture and
described the process by which inmates become socialized to prison culture, a process
Clemmer dubbed prisonization, a seeming analogy to anthropology’s concept of
enculturation. Clemmer saw prison culture as an amalgam of many influences: the
characteristics, norms, values, and knowledge brought into the prison from their previous
lives by a diverse group of inmates; the characteristics of the prison as an isolating and
segregating society; and the physical plant and organization of the prison itself, to name
but a few.

3

Edward B. Tylor, 1924 [orig. 1871] Primitive Culture. 2 vols. 7th ed. New York: Brentano's. Tylor
proposed that cultural regularities were determined by general laws of culture rather than biological
determinism.

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24
Prisonization proceeded differentially for inmates. The unique interplay of social
forces and physical context influenced inmates’ experience. Thus, for example, an
inmate who, by sheer luck, got a work assignment that allowed him to remain relatively
isolated, and a cellmate who was not violent, predatory or involved in drug trafficking,
would be prisonized to a lesser extreme of prison life than another inmate whose cell and
job assignments forced him into closer contact with hard-core inmates. Clemmer viewed
these chance placements of cellmate, cellblock, and work assignment as the strongest
determining factors in the degree of inmate prisonization.
Clemmer devoted a chapter to prison sexual activity. Briefly, he views
homosexuality of any kind as sexual perversion, and men who engage in
homosexuality as either not having followed a “normal” course of male sexual
and emotional development, or else as relapsing due to the pressures unique to
prison life. These pressures include deprivation of normal heterosexual outlets,
but they also include: the relative promiscuity of the average inmate prior to being
incarcerated; ubiquitous sexual stimuli in the form of radio and magazine
advertisements; the focus on sex in prison argot and humor; and the disquieting
affect of the presence of inmates committed for sex offenses and inmates who are
openly homosexual.
Deprivation theory remained unnamed in Clemmer’s work. Nevertheless the
premise of socio-sexual deprivation was a core theme in Clemmer’s analysis of prison
sex. Unlike later uses of the deprivation concept, Clemmer did not consider deprivation a
crucial factor in shaping the culture of prison sex. “Without further elaboration it may be
stated categorically that sex yearning and lonesomeness for feminine companionship is

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25
for the great majority of prisoners the most painful phase of incarceration” (p. 256).
However, Clemmer specified that multiple forces shaped prison culture.
. . . we have a population of adult males whose previous sex experiences
have been wide and generally not restricted. They are unhappy for many
reasons. A high degree of yearning for the body of woman engulfs them.
They are living together in cramped quarters and are bombarded on every
hand by stimuli of a sex nature in newspapers, radio, magazines, and
books. In their communication with each other sex topics become an
important subject. They are in contact with individuals who are sexually
abnormal and were sexually abnormal before they came to prison. Also,
about 6 per cent of the population have been sentenced for sex crimes and
each of these personalities is an occasion for focusing attention on sex. A
consideration of all these factors indicates that the prison culture fosters
abnormal sex behavior and tolerates it. (p.257)
Clemmer’s only mention of sex-related violence was in reference to fights
that break out between jealous inmates competing for the attentions of the same
man. In such cases formerly “straight” convicts initiated sexual advances toward
openly homosexual convicts. Clemmer concluded:
The all-male environment, the absence of strong social controls, the
impersonalization of social relationships, and, most of all, the existence of
centers of infection in the penal culture, stimulate abnormal sex conduct.
The most important of the infectious foci are the definite homosexual
psychopaths who spread perversion throughout the community. (p. 264)

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26
In the early 1940s, Deveureux and Moos (1942) suggested that homosexuality
was not a condition of "human or criminal nature." Rather the problem of homosexuality
was caused by inner psychic turbulence. "The process [of becoming a homosexual] is
facilitated by the fact that there is always a potential infantile homosexual lurking behind
the 'manly' mask of the beast of prey, which rejoices in male society" (pp. 306-324).
Perhaps, prison researchers’ current concept of the prison sexual predator finds its
intellectual genesis in Deveureux and Moos’s beast of prey.
Soon after Deveureux and Moos, Karpman (1948, pp. 475-486) wrote that "[a]s
the hope of gaining access to a person of the opposite sex recedes farther and farther, the
transition from this type [of sex] to the more abnormal expressions takes place sooner or
later." He continued: "phantasies gradually develop an abnormal character picturizing
paraphiliac situations, the masturbatory practice assumes a definitely pathological aspect,
and the nearest thing to a 'real' female is the feminine homosexual.” Here too emerged the
abnormality of same-sex relations, or the idea that same-sex relations must emerge as a
deviant form of sexuality rather than a natural expression of human sexuality.
Masturbation, Karpman thought, was pathological behavior. He asserted that the only
intervention taken by prison staff to resolve sexual abnormalities was "violent
suppression" and that abnormal influences of prison sexual life were carried by inmates
back to the community. Finally, a close reading of Karpman finds methodological
pitfalls. He bases his interpretations of prison sex on an unspecified theoretical model
without identifying any substantive data.

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27
Early Decades: Summary of Key Findings
The early decades of prison culture research created groundwork for decades of
later research. An enumeration below finds early research outcomes keyed to scholar and
date of research. Also noted are intellectual ideas that flowed from the 1930s through the
1940s.
•

Deprived of heterosexual relations men inmates will develop irrepressible urges
for sex and will engage in same-sex behavior. Sexual predators were
heterosexuals driven to sexual violence by sexual deprivation (Fishman, 1934).

•

Prison culture has the power to alter sexual propensities (Fishman, 1934; Sykes,
1958).

•

Homosexuality was deviant behavior (Fishman, 1934; Sykes, 1958).

•

Prison was a pathological environment and caused inner psychic turbulence and
untold psycho-sexual harm (Fishman 1934; Deveureux & Moss, 1942; Karpman,
1948).

•

Prison had the power to transform heterosexuals into homosexuals (Clemmer,

•

1940).

•

Homosexual psychopaths spread sexual perversion, like an infection, among
inmates and adversely influenced multiple domains of prison life (Clemmer,
1940).

•

Infantile homosexual lurking within men-inmates’ psyches cause them to become
beasts of prey (Deveureux & Moos, 1942).

•

Masturbation expresses pathological behavior (Karpman, 1948).

•

Prison authorities try to punish homosexuality ‘out of’ inmates (Karpman 1948).

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28
•

Deviant sexual behavior in prison extends to post-release community behavior
(Karpman, 1948).
Over many decades the conceptualization of prison sexual predators illustrated

their manly qualities and manhood while their prey appears weak and defenseless. These
psychological stereotypes of sexual aggressors and prey persist into modern research.
Middle Decades of Prison Sex Research
1950s to 1970s
Influences of World War II on the conceptualization of prison culture
Arguably the single-most theoretically influential prison study was Gresham
Sykes’ 1958 The Society of Captives. Sykes was a Princeton University sociologist who
described inmate social life at the New Jersey State Maximum Security Prison. His data
were collected from approximately 20 inmates. He said they “served in effect as a panel
which could be interviewed again and again over the course of time” (p. 135).
Sykes’ far-reaching scholarly influence focused on his prison-as-concentration
camp analogy. Writing in the early post-World War II era, Sykes’ compared prisons to
Nazi concentration camps; at that time, such a comparison seemed natural enough. Sykes
infused prison life with multiple deprivations. These include: the deprivation of liberty;
the deprivation of goods and services; the deprivation of heterosexual relationships; the
deprivation of autonomy; and the deprivation of security. Taken together, these
deprivations threatened inmates’ ego-structure and created a defiant, survival adaptation.
Defiance was also manifest in the prison argot with its emphasis on being a “real man,”
or someone who can do his time; take what the guards dish out to him; refuse to

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29
complain; and remain cool. A real man “confront[ed] his captors with neither
subservience nor aggression” (p. 102).
Out of the prison-as-concentration camp analogy Sykes’s proposed a prisoner
code, a defiance of authority manifested itself in strict prohibitions against undue
cooperation with prison staff and against “ratting” or “squealing” on other inmates for
any reason. Over the past 50 years the concept of the rat or squealer as an inmate who
deserves punishment, justifiably so, has been an enduring theme in prison research, even
one inmates use to justify severe beatings and homicide of other inmates (Fleisher, 1989).
A contextual theory of prison culture and inmate sexuality emerged in the
sociology of Gresham Sykes. Sykes proposed a social and physical environment does
have dramatic effects on inmates’ thought and behavior. Bruno Bettelheim’s experience
in concentration camps supported Sykes’s thesis of the pervasive effects of concentration
camp-like prisons on inmates.
As Bettelheim4 has tellingly noted in his comments on the concentration
camp, men under guard stand in constant danger of losing their
identification with the normal definition of an adult and the imprisoned
criminal finds his picture of himself as a self-determining individual being
destroyed by the regime of the custodians. It is possible that this
psychological attack is particularly painful in American culture because of
the deep-lying insecurities produced by the delays, the conditionality and
the uneven progress so often observed in the granting of adulthood. (p.75)

4

Bruno Bettelheim, an Austrian Jew and psychiatrist, and expert on normal and abnormal child
psychology, was a concentration camp survivor.

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30
Just as the prisoner code arises from a defiance-based ego-need as an effect of the
loss of liberty and autonomy, inmate culture’s other aspects are born of deprivation,
including inmate solidarity. In its ideal state, deprivation of goods and services leads to
inmate sharing; however, scarcity inevitably creates the ‘haves’ and have-nots’ and leads
to the “merchant” or “peddler,” the prisoner who takes advantage of other inmates by
selling them goods instead of simply sharing them; and the “gorilla,” the inmate who
takes what he wants by force. Sykes summarizes the issue as follows:
But if the rigors of confinement cannot be completely removed, they can
at least be mitigated by the patterns of social interaction established
among the inmates themselves. In this apparently simple fact lies the key
to our understanding of the prisoner’s world. (p. 83)
Deprivation of heterosexual relationships lies at the heart of the majority
of prison sexual activity:
There are, of course, some “habitual” homosexuals in the prison – men
who were homosexuals before their arrival and who continue their
particular form of deviant behavior within the all-male society of the
custodial institution. For these inmates, perhaps, the deprivation of
heterosexual intercourse cannot be counted as one of the pains of
imprisonment. They are few in number, however, and are only too apt to
be victimized or raped by aggressive prisoners who have turned to
homosexuality as a temporary means of relieving their frustration. (p.71)

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31
Sykes’ analysis of prison argot identified sexually aggressive prisoners--the
wolves, as situational homosexuals5 driven by deprivation of heterosexual outlets.
And the inmates, too, attempt to distinguish the ‘true’ sexual pervert and
the prisoner driven to homosexuality by his temporary deprivation. In the
world of the prison, however, the extent to which homosexual behavior
involves ‘masculinity’ and ‘femininity’ would appear to override all other
considerations and it is this which provides the main basis for the
classification of sexual perversion by the inmate population. (p. 95ff)
The outward structures of prison sex culture were seen as rooted in the
deprivation of heterosexual relationships. However, in addition to these outward
structures, Sykes pointed to the deep-running psychological effects of deprivation,
which were the true mechanisms through which deprivation created the culture of
inmate sex:
Yet as important as frustration in the sexual sphere may be in
physiological terms, the psychological problems created by the lack of
heterosexual relationships can be even more serious. A society composed
exclusively of men tends to generate anxieties in its members concerning
their masculinity regardless of whether or not they are coerced, bribed, or
seduced into an overt homosexual liaison. Latent homosexual tendencies
may be activated in the individual without being translated into open
5

Eigenberg’s 1992 article discusses “normal” heterosexuals who, as an effect of deprivation, engage in
prison homosexuality. She described a typology ambiguity in the distinction between homosexuality and
heterosexuality and how the ambiguity influenced the interpretation of prison rape. This argument raises a
significant theoretical issue. It poses a (1) dichotomous classification of homo- vs. heterosexuality or (2)
condition of variable states of “normal” sexuality. Variable states of homosexuality argue for a type of
baseline sexuality with conditional variation induced by situational conditions; this position seems
consistent with a Freudian theoretical perspective on sexuality.

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32
behavior and yet still arouse strong guilt feelings at either the conscious or
unconscious level.
A crisis of self-image and self-understanding induced by the deprivation of
heterosexual relationships creates the culture of prison sex. Such deprivation stands as
the dynamic force in creating aggressive socio-sexual characters--wolves, and their weak
prey-punks.
Shut off from the world of women, the population of prisoners finds itself
unable to employ that criterion of maleness which looms so importantly in
society at large – namely, the act of heterosexual intercourse itself. Proof
of maleness, both for the self and for others, has been shifted to other
grounds and the display of ‘toughness,’ in the form of masculine
mannerisms and the demonstration of inward stamina, now becomes a
major route to manhood. But for homosexuals and non-homosexuals
alike, the emphasis placed by the society of captives on the
accompaniments of sexuality rather than sexuality itself does much to
transform the problem of being a man in a world without women. (p. 97)
Sykes’s Influence on the Future of Prison Intellectual Thought
In the history of prison research, Sykes’s significant conceptual contribution was
the introduction the prison-as-concentration-camp analogy. Positing that prisons and
concentration camps share a core culture, Sykes’ proposed that prison culture was
primarily the product of deprivations imposed on and endured by inmates.
Out of the prison qua concentration camp analogy evolved themes and concepts
still accepted as axiomatic in prison culture research. Inmates’ were necessarily defiant

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33
against “guards.” Snitches were men who aided the enemy. Snitches were justifiably
punished by inmates. Abstract concepts appeared. Wholly inadequate, even brutal
prison conditions maintained a helpless prisoner population. Helpless and hapless,
inmates were guarded by cruel keepers. Socio-psychological consequences of
imprisonment effected permanent life-term damage.
Nazi brutality against homosexuals diffused into prison scholars’ worldview. Not
until the 1960s did prison scholars seriously consider less harsh and judgmental ideas
about the socio-psychological nature of prison homosexuals and reappraise the damaging
effects of homosexual conduct. What had been at minimum 30 years of negative
judgment about prison’s near-inevitable damage inflicted on inmates’ socio-sexual lives
began to shift with a few exceptions (see Davis, 1968) in the 1960s. Macro-sociological
changes in American culture, such as civil rights legislation, likely opened prisons to
considerations more enlightened than previously recognized. Several mid-50s studies
foresaw the future.
The mid-1950s saw one of the few studies of homosexuality in federal prisons.
Smith’s 1956 study at the Medical Center for Federal Prisons, Springfield, Missouri,
examined homosexuals’ quality of life. He concluded that institutions need “a closely
supervised program for homosexuals,” a need for more effective diagnostic criteria and
methods, and a means to increase validity of classifying homosexual inmates. He also
concluded homosexual inmates were content with themselves and their sexual preference.
Ward’s 1958 examination of institutionalized adolescents, while distinct from
adult prisons in many ways, had findings similar to others’ research in adult prisons. He
found there are non-homosexual aspects of homosexuality in institutions, and that

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34
"[b]ullying and aggressive homosexual behavior become confused with manliness."
Ward proposed that a lack of rape investigations was linked to American culture’s bias
against homosexuality. "Because of the stigma which our society places on
homosexuality, and because of society's demand that such behavior be eliminated,
officials are reluctant to encourage investigation of homosexual practices in their
institutions. The possibility of unfavorable publicity brings with it the real danger of
dismissal from office by public demand (pp. 301-314).
By the 1960s male and female inmate homosexuality had distinctly different and
gender-biased interpretations. While male inmate homosexuality was perverse and
psychopathological, female inmate homosexuality was a supportive and situational
activity and exacerbated by women’s customary need for social and emotional support.
Ward and Kassebaum (1964, pp. 159-177):
The process of turning out seems to represent socialization of the new inmates
into practices which provide support, guidance and emotional satisfaction during
a period when these are lacking. . . . Inmates believe that most homosexual
involvement occurs early in imprisonment, that most affairs are situational with
heterosexual relationships to be resumed upon release and that many are 'onceonly' affairs.
By the 1960s researchers expanded their theoretical focus and looked at social and
sexual roles and their influence on institution social control. Sykes and Messinger (1960,
pp. 77-85) raised a significant point. They noted inmates have a conscious appreciation
of institution social control and make deliberate efforts to achieve and maintain it.

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35
A cohesive inmate social system institutionalizes the value of 'dignity' and the
ability to 'take it' [overcome deprivation] in a number of norms and reinforces
these norms with informal social controls. Almost all inmates have an interest in
maintaining cohesive behavior on the part of others, regardless of the role they
play themselves.
Garabedian (1963), like Sykes and Messinger, described a variety of inmate social
roles and how they accommodated prison life. His data collection method contributed to
an analysis of prison socio-cultural adaptation. He stratified data collection by phases: an
early phase consisted of inmates who had been incarcerated less than six months; a
middle phase included inmates who had been incarcerated more than six months but also
had more than an additional six months to serve; and a phase inmates had served the
majority of their sentence and had less then six months remaining to release. He reported:
“While the dominant process in the early period [of imprisonment] appears to be one of
isolation, processes of [social] involvement are linked to most of the role types during the
middle period.” He argued further that “pains of imprisonment” diminish, and when they
do, inmates became more involved in positive prison life (cf. Leger, 1973).
Gagnon and Simon’s (1968, pp. 23-29) study identified patterns of sexual
adjustment among men and women inmates. He focused on the effects of sexual
deprivation and its effects on socio-sexual relationships. They argued a need to clarify
two points. The first point was the “unfortunate tendency to view the sexual adjustment
of prisoners as arising exclusively from the contexts of prison life.” The second point
stressed that inmates’ sexual behavior must “specify the range of sexual responses that
are available to those imprisoned.” By range of sexual responses Gagnon and Simon

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36
referred to a lack of knowledge about inmates’ pre-imprisonment sexual behavior, which
was necessary to understand inmates’ general adaptations and sexual responses to prison
deprivation.
These researchers argued that positing inmate homosexuality as an effect of
prison sexual deprivation was “a major oversimplification brought about primarily
because of a lack of information about the prior sexual and nonsexual lives of those who
are prisoners and the way in which this prior experience conditions persons' responses not
only to sexual deprivation, but also to a general loss of liberty.” They noted that “women
have fewer problems than men in managing sexual deprivation” and that “most prisoners
do not seem to feel an overwhelming sexual need.” The latter point strengthens
Garabedian’s finding about late phase imprisonment; and Ward and Kassebaum’s finding
that women inmates’ sexual behavior was supportive and reflected women’s customary
need to obtain social and emotional support. The idea that men’s homosexual behavior
was deviant but women’s was normal became firmly implanted in the intellectual history
of prison inmate sexual research.6
Davis’s 1968 study reviewed administrative reports for the period June 1966 to
July 1968. He interviewed inmates incarcerated between July 15, 1968 and July 31, 1968
(n=3,304). He analyzed written statements from selected inmates, and relied on a lie
detector to verify inmates and staff claims. Out of 26 staff asked to submit to polygraph,
25 refused. Out of 48 inmates asked to submit to polygraph, seven refused, and 10 of 41
failed the polygraph. Davis found sexual assaults in the Philadelphia prison system were
epidemic: 156 sexual assaults were documented in the 26 month study (seven in sheriff's
6

There are no theoretical or research-based challenges to this gender-based interpretation about men’s and
women’s sexual behavior in the history of prison sexual research. Today’s research still uses women’s
need for comfort and emotional support as basis of explaining women inmates’ pseudo-families.

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37
vans, 149 in prisons): 82 were buggery; 19 fellatio; and 55 were attempted coercive
solicitations involving 97 different victims and 176 different aggressors. Davis’s
predecessors and contemporaries reported inmate squabbles over sexual partners.
However, no prison studies reported the magnitude of sexual violence in this study.
Davis’s findings remain anomalous up to the present day.
Soon after Davis’s study, Linda Charlton, a journalist, published the article The
Terrifying Homosexual World of the Jail System (1971). She alleged that new inmates
were approached for sex very shortly after they come in; that homosexuality in jail
alienated inmates and further separated them from the normal outside; and that a prison
should create conditions that parallel the outside world, allowing inmates heterosexual
behavior. Creating an inside world that mirrored the outside, she wrote, would decrease
the devastating effect of prison on inmates. Based on an unspecified number of
conversations with former inmates, and a self-selected literature review, Carlton
concluded that homosexual behavior and sexual aggression in jail was a major problem.
She brought to the popular media the stereotypic inmate homosexual, the stereotypic
sexual predator, the stereotypic prison-as-concentration camp image, and a reinforced
notion that prison rape had reached epidemic levels.
Johnson’s 1971 (pp. 83-97) study found homosexuality was not epidemic and
devastating but rather an adaptation to prison life. He suggested the constant contact
among men, the inmate's "whole life is predicted on homosexualized group contact." The
social organization of the prison environment, he argued, caused inmates to create a
"class of women substitutes" and to engage in inmate marriages, which "serve[d] to
release sexual and emotional frustration." There was no protection for homosexuals who

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38
were raped. Staff, he said, had negative attitudes toward homosexuals. He described how
a raped homosexual's lover would seek revenge on the predator. However, he had no
empirical data to support the retaliation contention.
Kirkham’s 1971 study examined prison homosexuality. He made five points. (1)
There were only three possible adaptations open to members of the inmate community:
sexual abstinence; masturbation; or participation in institutional homosexuality. (2)
Situational homosexuality was fostered by a tendency on the part of sensational writers to
grossly exaggerate the actual incidence of the phenomenon. The “number of inmates who
participate in any form of homosexual behavior while imprisoned is relatively small
when compared to the vast majority of prisoners who adapt to sexual frustration by
masturbating." (3) Inmates who engaged in homosexual activity7 presented a façade of
toughness ‘manliness’ to escape being defined as a homosexual. (4) The marital
relationship between a man inmate and his male wife was largely instrument; a male-wife
would obtain goods for her man, and in turn he provided physical protection. Women, he
said, moved among relationships; social shifting among relations caused jealousy and
conflict. (5) Sex roles, he said, such as a wolf or jocker, were not considered "real”
homosexuals.
Kassebaum (1972) said sexual affairs were coercive, commercial, and romantic.
Coercive relationships were those when a person gave in to the requests of others out of
fear of actual or threatened violence. In commercial relationships, money or goods
exchanged hands for sexual favors. Romantic relationships were characterized by
affection and willingness of both parties to engage in sex. Kassebaum made a

7

Note the cultural distinction between inmates who engaged in homosexual behavior and inmate
homosexuals.

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39
classification of sexual orientation, ranging from inmates who were homosexuals on the
outside and openly admitting to it to inmates who avoided homosexual contact and used
masturbation as outlet. Finally, he found that approximately 50 percent of women
inmates had had some form of in-prison sexual experience.
Akers, Hayner, and Gruninger’s 1974 research examined homosexuality and drug
use in 25 national and international prisons. This report presents the findings from only
the seven American prisons. The authors argued that drug use and homosexual behavior
had a major impact on the inmate social system and culture. Authors argued that
homosexual behavior and drug abuse were positively correlated. "Without exception,
[prisons] with high levels of reported drug use also experience high levels of homosexual
behavior; and prisons with low levels of drug use also have low levels of reported
homosexual behavior." Their significant finding was that “the amount of drug and
homosexual behavior among inmates is more a function of the type of prison [security
level] which holds them than the social characteristics which [inmates] bring with them
from the outside." This represents a counter-argument to the assumption that prison
social life was influenced by inmates’ proclivities imported into prison. The research
also added a new dimension to deprivation theory by emphasizing that security level has
a strong influence on generating homosexual behavior even though low-to-high securitylevel prisons share similar deprivations.
Middle Decades: Summary of Key Findings
The middle decades of prison research amplified earlier findings and added to the
literature new concepts, ideas, and interpretations. They are enumerated below.

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40
•

Inmates have a conscious appreciation for institution social control and make
deliberate efforts to achieve and maintain it (Sykes & Messinger, 1960).

•

Imprisonment lessens in deprivation over time (Garabedian, 1963).

•

Male-inmate homosexuality was perverse but female inmate homosexuality was a
supportive and situational activity and exacerbated by women’s customary need
for social and emotional support (Ward & Kassebaum, 1964).

•

Prison life limits inmates’ range of sexual responses; inmates’ pre-imprisonment
sexual history influences inmates’ sexual choices and determines if inmates do
indeed suffer from prison sexual deprivation; sexual deprivation oversimplifies
inmates’ same-sex relations; women inmates have fewer sexual problems
managing sexual behavior than men and women do not feel an overpowering need
for sex (Gagnon & Simon, 1968).

•

Homosexuality not to be epidemic and devastating but an adaptation to prison life
(Johnson, 1971).

•

Inmates’ preferred form of sexual expression was masturbation vs. homosexuality
(Kirkham, 1971); and

•

Sexual relationships can be coercive, commercial, or romantic (Kassebaum,
1972).

•

Davis’s research was the first study to suggest an epidemic level of sexual
violence in a prison context, the Philadelphia jail system (Davis, 1968).

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41
Modern Decades of Prison Sex Research
1980s to 2000s
Daniel Lockwood’s Prison Sexual Violence (1980) used data collected in 1974-75
in the New York state prison system. Lockwood defined “sexual aggression” as:
. . . behavior which leads a man to feel that he is the target of aggressive sexual
intentions. . . . We see sexual aggression as a continuum marked by different
levels of attempts to exploit, and different levels of reaction to exploitations. At
the bottom of the continuum we might see a target imagining aggression from an
aggressor’s overture. At the top of we might see the gang rape. Along this
continuum, any incident of aggression is created as much by the interaction that
unfolds as by the intentions of the aggressor (p. 6).
Lockwood identified characteristics of targets and aggressors and salient
features of different kinds of aggressive incidents important to understanding the
culture of prison sex. He found targets were significantly more likely to be white,
while aggressors were significantly more likely to be black. Targets were
generally younger than aggressors and of relatively slighter build and lower
weight than aggressors. They had effeminate characteristics; were fairly
inexperienced in prison life; and were particularly vulnerable in the first few
weeks of initial imprisonment or transfer to another institution. Aggressors sought
newcomers. They were naive and easy prey and unaware of aggressors’ hustles.
Targets and aggressors were similar on sentence length, previous incarceration
history, and total length of incarceration. Aggressors, Lockwood found, did not
view themselves as homosexuals but did view victims as women.

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42
Lockwood elaborated Fishman’s descriptions of the context and dynamics of
sexual aggression and offered a tentative typology of aggressor approaches.
•

The Propositioning approach – No threats or use of force are present.

•

The Player approach combines force and threats with verbal tactics.

•

The Gorilla approach – relies exclusively on force or threats. ‘Gorillas,’ also
known as ‘booty bandits,’ ‘asshole bandits,’ or simply ‘bandits,’ are prisoners
who pounce on other men and attempt to sodomize them.
Lockwood documented the effects of sexual aggression on targets. Effects

included chronic anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. A frequent outcome of
sexual victimization was victims’ aggressive retaliation from prison social life via selfisolation or protective custody.
Prison culture recognizes several approaches to handle sexual threats. A
threatened inmate has the dilemma of whether to report the aggressor to the authorities.
Reporting would incur the label a snitch and then may make him vulnerable to reprisals.
Such a situation, Lockwood wrote, may be worse than the sexual aggression a potential
victim seeks to avoid. A snitch may opt for protective custody. However, protective
custody severely restricts job access, exercise, and recreational opportunities. The only
alternatives to snitching, Lockwood wrote, would be fighting or submitting to an
aggressor. A target’s preemptive public display of force may prevent an assault. A
retaliatory post-assault strike may stave off future problems. Sexual pressure and
responses to it are cultural blueprints. They are matters of thought and discussion but
neither may be acted out.

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43
Lockwood reaffirmed deprivation theory as the motivating force propelling
aggressors:
The idea that violence is an end in itself, which is mentioned in the rape
literature, has little supporting evidence in our study. Violence for its own
sake is not explicitly present. . . . Aggressors who spoke openly about
their behavior sometimes expressed guilt and remorse over having been
driven to such lengths. On the other hand, they saw a peremptory sex
drive behind their activities, and blamed the prison and other external
forcers for creating the pressing problem which inevitably forced their
actions: How can you cope with being sexually deprived for three years,
for two, for even five years at a time? . . . Paradoxically as it may strike
us, aggressors can thus not only justify their acts but can argue that they,
ultimately, they are the real victims. (p. 338ff)
Wooden and Parker’s Men Behind Bars: Sexual Exploitation in Prison (1982)
examined rape and coercion. However, the greater focus of their research was the role
and welfare of gay prisoners. Gay referred to the community sense of term, which meant
men who were openly homosexual prior to incarceration (or if not overtly gay in their
demeanor and comport they had sexual experiences with other men prior to
incarceration). Wooden and Parker vision of homosexual prison behavior was rooted in
lower-class men’s culture of machismo. Machismo valued the defense and assertion of
manhood.
The 1980s had a proliferation of prison sex and violence research. However, few
new ideas were forthcoming. Nacci & Kane (1982; see 1983, 1984) studied sexual

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44
aggression in federal prisons. Based on a survey methodology, they found that one in
330 inmates had been targets of sexual aggression but that less than 0.3% had been raped.
Sexual targets were homosexuals or bisexuals 70 percent of the time. The stereotypic
image of the sexual-assault victim emerged. Victims were slender, effeminate, and had
long hair. Sexual targets, Nacci and Kane found, discussed sex openly in public earshot.8
Tewksbury’s 1989 study at the Lebanon Correctional Institution in Ohio
found that inmates over-reported rape. Questionnaires were distributed to
college-program inmates in their classrooms. Responses from 88 inmates were
gathered from the group administered survey. Tewksbury found that inmates
over-report prison rape.9 Inmates reported rates of homosexual activity at or
below the general [free] population. The estimations of these [coerced sex]
activities in the institution are much higher than self-reported incidence. About
seven percent report attempts at coercion, but no one reported being raped.
However, inmates estimated that 14 percent of inmates had been sexually
assaulted or raped while in prison (pp. 34-39).
Corroborating Tewksbury’s finding, Lockwood (1994, pp. 97-102) reported that
homosexual rape was a rare event and that large numbers of offenders are propositioned
for sexual favors. Writers and inmates, Lockwood said: "have been perpetuating certain
ideas about prison sexual violence that are not supported by systematic research on the
topic."

8

Inmates reported that incidents of sex play, “grab ass,” as they called them, get out of control and can lead
to someone to feel as if he’d been grabbed too hard or mocked.
9
Since the inmate sample was not representative of the general population’s education level, this finding
may be partially an outcome of differential prisonization.

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45
Hensley, Tewksbury, and Wright (2001) in the men’s maximum-security
Southern Correctional Facility, Lucasville, Ohio, studied masturbation and consensual
sex. Hensley et al. (2001) found that 79 percent said they were heterosexual prior to
incarceration; 69 percent continued to be heterosexual after incarceration; 36 percent
received oral sex from another male inmate; and 32 performed anal intercourse on
another male inmate. Hensley and Tewksbury 2002’s literature review found a lack of
clear definitions of sexual behavior and sexual terminology used in research studies.
They noted further, a comment not in literature until their study, that 60 to 70 percent of
America’s inmates were illiterate (pp. 226-243).
Theoretical Approaches to Inmate Sexual Behavior
Importation vs. Deprivation
Perhaps no single concept pervades the literature about prison culture and inmate
sexuality more than deprivation. Despite its widespread use there has been little empirical
scrutiny of the claims of deprivation theory. Inevitably with time, the notion of
deprivation began to be challenged by prison researchers on theoretical grounds. Early
deprivation was discussed in a broader context of Freudian thought. The alternative
theory was called importation theory, or the importation model. Deprivation saw the
basic structure of inmate culture in general and inmate sexual culture in particular as
responses to multiple deprivations. The importation model viewed the prison culture as
primarily the result of the importation of attitudes, norms, proclivities, and mores inmates
brought into prison from the outside world. Thus prisons were violent because violent
men were imprisoned. Rape and sexual assault occurred in prison because these same
men committed rape and sexual assault outside. Deprivation and importation should not

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46
be mutually exclusive concepts. Only together, when one concept can help define the
other, do these concepts make the best contribution. After all, it would be irrational to
assume inmates’ personality and criminal history do not influence at least in a narrowly
defined way prison life. Deprivation can be measured on a continuum. Extreme
deprivation, defined by poor food, inadequate recreation facilities, and poorly trained
staff, would likely engender a harsher prison climate than a prison which withholds goods
and services as a function of its nature as a confined, secure institution.
Goffman’s Dramaturgical Sociology
Smith and Batiuk (1989) offer the major critical work of importation and
deprivation while advancing Goffman’s dramaturgical sociology. Goffman’s
dramaturgical sociology was the theoretical foundation of Smith and Batiuk’s 1989 study,
Sexual Victimization and Inmate Social Interaction.
. . . the individual is seen as possessing a “social self” which emerges,
adapts, and changes in the process of interaction with individuals and the
social setting as opposed to possessing a “personality” which responds to
any given social setting in more or less typical and rather predictable
ways. For Goffman, interaction is characterized as a theatrical
“performance” in which the individual “actor” and the “audience” (those
who take an active part in the social setting) work together to create and
confirm a “definition of the situation” that allows for problems to be
solved and business to on “as usual.” (p. 30)

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47
Individuals were continually engaged in impression management. They carefully
orchestrated their behaviors to legitimate their performance in the eyes of a
particular audience.
Smith and Batiuk’s 1989 study interviewed 66 inmates at a single institution.
They found prison imposed severe restrictions on inmates’ ability to engage in
impression management. Inmates could not select who observed their behavior at any
given time. Furthermore, they were always under observation; there was no back stage
time, no privacy. Thus inmates had to be ‘on stage’ every minute of every day and
perform for a hostile audience looking for weaknesses to be exploited. The need to put
up a front all times begs the question of inmates’ decision about the most essential public
face. Smith and Batiuk:
. . . . one type of performance comes to dominate all others. This performance
is directly related to the fear which permeates the entire inmate population of
being labeled a homosexual, or worse, being raped. . . . This pervasive fear of
sexual victimization leads to a performance which emphasizes strength and
masculinity and de-emphasizes characteristics which are considered weak or
feminine [such as compassion, love, and the like] (p. 32).
Inmates are thus driven to exaggerated masculinity. Exaggeration included
aggressiveness often contradictory to an individual’s natural forms of expression.
Smith and Batiuk concluded that, even if the actual incidence rate of sexual
victimization in prisons was relatively low, the pervasive fear of such victimization
dictated inmate behavior and dominated a majority of inmate interactions.

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48
Race, ethnicity, and aggression
Race, ethnicity, and sexuality have continued to be prominent prison research
topics since the early decades of the 20th century. Moss, Hosford and Anderson (1979)
conducted a pilot study of 24 federal inmates: 12 known rapists were compared to 12
randomly selected inmates from a federal prison population. Researchers posited that
inmate age at the time of imprisonment correlated positively with Scholastic
Achievement Test score, few disciplinary reports, and less involvement in homosexual
rape. A total of 48 variables were analyzed. Study participants were divided into four
groups: black-rapists, black-non-rapists, Chicano-rapists and Chicano-non-rapists.
Statistical analyses determined variations on study variables between rapists and
comparison inmates. These tests lacked statistical power. Authors weren’t able to
distinctively define a “rapist.” Twelve rapists were members of a minority group (7
blacks, 5 Chicanos), 10 of 12 victims were white. All rapists selected targets of a
different race.
Chonco (1989) conducted interviews with all inmates passing through the prerelease center of a minimum-security Midwestern prison. Interviews were open-ended,
with the author seeking to gauge the role of race in the targeting of victims of sexual
assault. Race was not mentioned by the inmates as victim-selection criteria, so the author
concluded that race was not a factor in victim selection. However, this conclusion may
have had as much to do with the nature of the questions asked as about the actual role of
race in victim targeting.
History of prison rape research has no definitive analysis between rapists’ and
race victims’ race or ethnicity. There are, however, indirect references, to a black rapist

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49
and white victim. Racial affiliation independent of physical size and strength and social
affiliation, such as religious group membership, gives little to no definitive analysis of
how race functions as deciding factor in sexual assault. No researchers have yet to assert
that inmates engage in behavior that in the community would be labeled racially
motivated sexual assault.
Fear of sexual assault
Several studies have suggested that the fear of rape and sexual assault shapes
prison culture as much as do actual incidents of the above. Smith and Batiuk (1989)
concluded that if the actual incidence rate of sexual victimization were relatively low, the
pervasive fear of victimization would dictate dominate the quality of inmates’ social
interactions.
Jones and Schmid (1989) provide another view of how the new inmate
conceptualizes prison life, and how that conception changes over time. Participantobservation (one of the authors was an inmate) was used over a 10-month period at a
mid-western state maximum-security facility. Twenty inmate interviews revealed the
fear of sexual assault inmates feel. Fear, they concluded, dominated new inmate’s
concept of prison life. Fear led to a rudimentary “isolationist” survival strategy. Inmates
adjust in the first few days and weeks. Once they acquire a more realistic assessment,
they release their fear of sexual assault until a rape or sexual assault occurs.
[T]he critical incident need not and generally does not, involve the new
inmate himself; the fact that he hears about the event is sufficient to
destroy his feelings of relative security. . . . The effect of a reported
sexual assault is so powerful to a new inmate that a temptation often exists

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50
– a few days after the event – to ‘write off’ the incident as an isolated
occurrence, and to struggle to regain the sense of well-being that had
gradually been developing. Although some inmates are successful in
recapturing a feeling of security, it is again sabotaged by another dramatic
even a few days or weeks later. (p. 56)
Over time, the authors contend, the inmate learns to make sense of these
violent attacks. Thus, for example, he learns that a murder that occurred was pay
back for a bad drug-deal, that a “rape” was the toll exacted for an inability to repay a
debt. In essence, the authors argue that over time a new inmate comes to understand
these events in their cultural context and comes to see them less and less as random
and unpredictable acts of violence. He may even welcome them somewhat as “a
dramatic disruption of an increasingly tedious prison routine. McCorkle (1993)
examined the level of inmate fear in the Tennessee State Prison (TSP), a maximumsecurity facility. He found that (1) exposure over a long period to prison conditions
were not uniformly damaging to inmates; (2) conditions of prison did not induce
psychological conditions; (3) crowding caused an increased feeling of deprivation;
and (4) prison life was especially difficult for offenders who cannot find timeconsuming activities (pp. 27-42). Deprivation was an expected and acceptable part of
the prison experience. However, the loss of personal safety was not. If offenders
were fearful, they most likely experienced more mental anguish disturbances.

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51

Modern Decades: Summary of Key Findings
The past 25 years of research has contributed nuanced interpretations of prison
sexual aggression.
•

Sexual aggression often has racial overtones (Lockwood, 1980).

•

Verbal non-aggression, verbal aggression and threats, and force or threats are
common sexual procurement approaches among men inmates (Lockwood, 1980).

•

Sexual targets suffer chronic anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation result from
the stress of targeted sexual aggression; sexual targets are likely to become violent
(Lockwood, 1980).

•

Sexual violence has metaphoric value functioning to filter inmates’ interpretations
of prison life (Smith & Batiuk, 1989).

•

Inmates’ estimates of sexual coercion are higher than self-reported incidents;
there were no rape self-reports in this study (Tewksbury, 1989).

•

Fear of sexual assault dominates new inmate’s isolationist adaptation to prison
life; over time inmates’ adjustment becomes more realistic and their fear of sexual
assault wanes until a rape or sexual assault occurs (Jones & Schmid, 1989).

•

The actual incidence rate of sexual victimization appears relatively low; however,
the pervasive fear of victimization dictates inmate behavior and dominates a
majority of inmate interactions (Smith & Batiuk, 1989).

•

Prison rape rarely occurred (Lockwood, 1994).
Research Literature on Women Inmates
Academic literature on women inmates’ sexual behavior was been under-

represented in the prison literature with scant mention of sexual coercion or sexual

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52
assault. On the topic of women inmates’ sexuality studies begin with “few studies
address,” or “there seems to be a void.” In fact, there are even articles written about how
little research has been done (Tewksbury & West, 2000).
In early prison literature, sexuality was relegated to realm of unnatural
relationships. However, racial and class differences were a prominent topic (Otis, 1913).
In discussions of homosexuality, black women were thought to be more aggressive and
dominant; white women fell into relationships with them to gain safety (Freedman,
1996). Low socio-economic status women were thought susceptible to lesbianism than
those from an upper-class upbringing. Prison and community homosexual relationships
were thought to be a perversion. Early research reflects homosexual perversion as a
predetermined conclusion. Forced or coerced sexual activity was not mentioned in early
prison literature.
In the past 30 years, few changes occurred in the description of women’s prison
homosexuality. Consensual relationships are among “femmes” and “stud” broads, or
butches. Heterosexual on the street, a femme’s prison orientation expresses traditionally
feminine characteristics. A stud broad adopts male behaviors, dress, hairstyles, and
speech (Giallombardo, 1966). Stud broads pursue femme (Ward & Kassebaum, 1965).
African Americans and street lesbians are more likely to play the stud role (Alarid, 2000).
Inmates reported prison homosexuals are more likely to be either younger inmates or
those with longer periods of incarceration (Hensley, Tewksbury, & Koscheski, 2001).
Koscheski and Hensley (2001) suggested the trend toward younger inmates’
homosexuality mirrors homosexual behavior outside prison where younger inmates were
more likely to have sexual experimentation prior to incarceration.

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53
Pseudo-families
Women inmates’ pseudo-families have stimulated research over many decades
(see Selling, 1931). Modern pseudo-family research has reinforced the association
between the prison deprivation (boredom, forced associations with others, and lack of
privacy) and participation in familial roles. Giallombardo (1966; Propper, 1981, 1982)
noted pseudo-families provided asexual emotional ties. However, some research
identified women’s fear of closeness to inmates (Greer, 2000, pp. 461-62). Inmates’
perceptions vary on the issue of the personal functions of pseudo-family.
“Christian families call each other sister. One girl calls another
inmate mommy. After you spent some time at the facility, the
juveniles get into plays, activities; older inmates are reminded of
their children on the outside. It is just a name, no actions are
taken, nothing sexual. This is a form of friendship terminology.”
Gagnon and Simon (1968) found women inmates did not have an over-powering
sexual urge. Heffernan (1972) noted that women who created a prison family were more
satisfied than inmates who did not create a pseudo-family. Women inmates’ socio-sexual
identity within a pseudo-family would extend their outside socio-sexual identify and
allow them to maintain a sense of self (Culbertson & Fortune, 1986: 33). Hensley et al.
(2002) suggested that women who closely identified themselves with the roles of wife, or
daughter, or mother prior to incarceration would most likely engage in pseudo-families.
Pollock (2002) wrote that pseudo-families help women cope with family deprivation by
forming substitute relations. Most of these women did not participate in same-sex
behavior prior to incarceration, Pollock wrote, and would not likely be committed to a

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54
post-release homosexual lifestyle. Instead, homosexuality was a cultural adaptation to
incarceration and means of obtaining affection and attention. However, this research
shows that nearly 50 percent of women inmates participated in same-sex preimprisonment affairs.
Women inmates’ homosexuality
Women’s research did not distinguish homosexuality within or outside a pseudofamily. Inmates who reported participation in homosexual prison activities involved
younger inmates or those with longer sentences (Hensley, Tewksbury, & Koscheski,
2001). Younger inmates’ prison homosexual behavior was explained by their sexual
experimental outside prison (Koscheski & Hensley, 2001).
In the past 30 years, few changes occurred in the description of women’s prison
homosexuality. In consensual relationships, the “femme” role and the “stud,” or butch,
role were usually defined. The femme was more likely to be a heterosexual outside
prison and display traditionally feminine characteristics. The stud played the male sex
role. “He” adopted male behaviors, dress, hairstyles and language (Giallombardo, 1966).
African Americans and street lesbians were more likely to play the stud role (Alarid,
2000) and expected to pursue the femme (Ward & Kassebaum, 1965).
Sexual Coercion and Rape
Women’s prison sex research focused on consensual same-sex behaviors and
pseudo-families (Hensley, Tewksbury, & Koscheski, 2001). Recently researchers have
begun to examine the coercive sexual behavior. Within the past 20 years researchers
recognized the possibility of female-inmate sexual assault committed by female inmates

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55
instead of staff members (Calhoun, & Coleman, 2002; Alarid, 2000). Decades of studies
reported that inmates became “canteen punks,” or “box whores,” to avoid beatings and
reap the economic benefits of homosexual behavior (Bowker, 1977). A clear distinction
between consensual and coercive sex fades into ambiguity when a coerced inmate seems
to consent in exchange for canteen goods or protection (Alarid, 2000).
Definitional Issues
In women’s prison research, sexual coercion, consent, and rape have not analyzed
in the socio-cultural context of women’s prison. Research has not reported clear
definitions of sexual assault and sexual coercion. If pressure tactics entered an
interaction, such as verbal harassment or extortion, sexual relations were labeled
coercion. Forceful physical-sexual assault was rape. However, the distinction between
consent and coercion remains as blurry as the distinction between coercion and assault.
For example, even if a woman did not at first want a sexual relationship, a desire for
social belonging and companionship may ease a transition to homosexuality (Alarid,
2000). Situational definitions are more difficult to define in the context of a woman’s
personal history. Researchers noted that incarcerated women are generally desensitized
to sexual coercion. They may have been molested, sexual assaulted, or forced into
inappropriate sexual relationships. Women inmates may not perceive a distinction
between coercive and other forms of sex (Alarid, 2000).
Prison socialization: pseudo-family vs. the mix
Recent research suggested that women’s prison culture has changed and become
less stable and familial than in the past (Greer, 2000). Owen’s 1998 study of “the mix,”

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56
or female subculture at Central California Women’s Facility, found inmate personal
interactions have emotional, practical, material and sexual value. However, the mix was
found to be an arena for sexual coercion and assault. Owen’s study reported that pseudofamilies keep women out of the mix.
Alarid’s 2000 study examined one woman inmate’s prison life over five years via
correspondence. Her work found that a woman’s social relations play a role in coercive
sexual behavior. She found some examples of retaliatory sexual assault in cases where a
sexual attack was a reprisal for a non-sexual wrong against a friend of the attacker.
Geer’s 2000 study of 35 mid-western inmates found sexual relationships were
based on economic manipulation. Owen’s 1998 study also discussed the sale or trade of
sexual favors for commissary. There are more femmes than studs in women’s prisons.
Aggressive studs manipulate femmes and may make significant economic gains in
bartering canteen goods for sex. Unfortunately information on this subject remains
limited.
Greer’s 2000 study suggested that changes in popular culture influenced change
in women inmates’ sexual behavior. She argued that since women are not as strongly
tied to their once traditional roles, women have social options in addition to mother or
sister or daughter. Modern housing architecture structures in women’s prisons, coupled
with socio-sexual changes, led change in inter-personal role relationships. Researchers
documented that family programs and furloughs strengthen outside bio-social family ties
and decreased the significance of pseudo-families (Pollock, 2002). Owen’s 1998
research found women still involved in play families and dyadic sexual relationships; the
pervasiveness of these relationships are unknown.

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57
Institutional Factors
Correctional institutions’ architecture was cited as a possible correlate to sexual
behavior. Struckman-Johnson & Struckman-Johnson’s 2002 study found that female
inmates were responsible for up to 80 percent of sexual coercion in the three women’s
housing units. In this case, dormitory housing predicted coercive sexual action.
However, dorms were also cited for racial disharmony. Owen (1998) cites increases in
prison population and an increase in drug offenders as characteristics likely to change the
dynamics of sexual coercion. Struckman-Johnson & Struckman-Johnson (2002) found
that larger barracks or dorm-style housing women inmates convicted of crimes against
persons had higher rates of sexual coercion.
Research limitations
Women’s prison sex research has been influenced by small sample size. Greer
(2000) had 35 inmates. Alarid (2000) had one female inmate and five years of her letters.
Struckman-Johnson, et al. (1996) had 42 female respondents-- three reported sexual
pressure. Geographic locations were limited. Struckman-Johnson & Struckman-Johnson
(2000) did research in several states in the Midwest. Owen (1998) studied one California
institution.
Women prison research has a relatively short scholarly and a narrow focus. There
are no large-scale studies of culture and women inmates’ sexual behavior. Fishbein’s
2000 research links masculine and feminine, lesbian social roles to interpersonal
aggression (see Warren, 2002). Then, she links interpersonal aggression to anger and
hostility. Studies such Fishbein’s have been bypassed in favor of descriptive survey
analysis and overlooked in scholarly analysis of women inmates’ sexuality.

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58
Final Comments
Since the 1930s prison research literature removed inmates’ conscious
motivations for their choices of sexual behavior and replaced individual, conscious
deliberation with unconscious forces compelled by sexual deprivation. Deprivation has
its origin in the early 20th century as a psychological theory of homosexuality (Gay, 2002,
p. 66). This concept diffused into prison research on homosexuality in the 1930s (see
Footnotes 1 and 2). Nevertheless, deprivation still accounts for variation in inmates’
sexual behavior. Variation extends on a continuum from homosexuality to sexual
violence to female surrogates (“queens”). If deprivation were removed from the calculus
of prison homosexuality its absence would leave a hole in the theoretical landscape. The
power of deprivation, researchers argue, imputes to prison culture power sufficient to
cause straight inmates to become gay. However, without deprivation as a cause, what
conditions compel men and women to homosexuality? What would cause straight
inmates to become gay?
Researchers’ dominant theory of prison homosexuality, since the 1930s, has been
derivation. However, inmate culture posits a ‘native’ theory whose origin derives
exclusively from beliefs internal to the culture of prison homosexuality. Inmate culture’s
native theory of homosexuality and sexual violence appears later.

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59
CHAPTER 2. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY
This research project was an objective analysis of inmates’ subjective perceptions
of prison sex and sexual violence. The methodological design allowed for the
identification of concepts and meaning in prison inmate culture. Identifying and
explaining inmates' vs. researchers’ concepts and their meaning was this project’s goal.
This project was a cultural study that would yield prison inmates’ worldview, or their
ways of interpreting, of prison sexual behavior and sexual violence. This goal required a
methodology that would yield a large body of interview data, also known as narratives.
Narratives represent inmates’ free-flowing speech unencumbered as much as possible by
interviewers.
What This Research Did Not Do
First, this research did not gather rape prevalence or incidence data. Inmate
interviews cannot be used to do a statistical analysis of rape prevalence and incidence. If
inmates say, rape occurs occasionally, in the context of a cultural study, this statement
does not denote prevalence. Inmates’ comments in interviews are opinions, beliefs, or
judgments, but they are not prevalence data.
Second, our goal was to understand prison rape as a cultural concept, a culture
artifact, which inmates may know something about even if they’d never been raped or
threatened or intimidated by a physical or sexual threat. Ethnographers have no way to
verify such claims in the absence of records data, but the truth of the assertions aren’t the
key research issue in a cultural analysis such as this one. The cultural research issue
focuses on process and contextual issues as inmates see them—for instance, was a sexual
threat the result of a card game debt?

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60
Third, prison rape represents a subjective reality for inmates. One inmate’s
subjective reality may be similar to or different from others subjective realities.
Clemmer’s theory argues that an inmate does not need to be a rapist or rape victim to
understand rape. Inmates acquire subjective reality through language and witnessing and
listening to others. In effect, an inmate’s subjective reality was formed from those of
others. They were likely to have formed their subjective reality from still others. Prison
researchers who were never inmates are capable of writing insightful and objective
analyses of prison life.
Influence of Clemmer’s Theory of Culture on Methodology
A research design and methodology depends on its theoretical premises. In this
study, those premises derived from Clemmer’s theory of prison culture and differential
prisonization. The outcome of this research was an analysis of prison sexual behavior
and sexual violence as perceived within and interpreted by prison culture. Influenced by a
newly emerged concept of culture in the late 19th century, Clemmer argued that inmate
speech strongly influenced what inmates know and how they interpret their social world.
Clemmer’s was a cognitive vs. a behavioral theory prison culture. What inmates knew,
he argued, was acquired primarily via inmate speech and secondarily by observation. He
did not argue that inmates’ knowledge of prison life was derived primarily from watching
other inmates’ behavior. In other words, Clemmer’s theory argues that what inmates
know about prison violence does not derive from seeing violence, but rather from hearing
about it.
In this study, inmate interviewees were not asked to report what they saw during
their imprisonment or what they believed other people saw or experienced. Rather,

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61
inmates were asked for their interpretations of acts, events, and situations. Cultural
questions take a form different from “how many” questions. Instead of asking inmates,
“how many acts of sexual violence did you see in the past year?” a cultural study asks
“what does sexual violence mean?”
Verbal descriptions and interpretations of behavior are filtered through language.
A language-based cultural analysis, absent of observation data, comes with a strong
caveat: what people say does not necessarily mirror what people do. Speech—the verbal
representation of culture, does not necessarily mirror behavioral reality. This study
analyzed the subjective perceptions of inmates’ on prison homosexuality and sexual
violence. A key theoretical point in Clemmer’s argument posits that inmates are strongly
influenced by the speech of other inmates. They—like other members of communities,
learn about their social environment via speech. Thus, what inmates’ cultural knowledge
derives largely from what they heard, not necessarily from what they participated in or
observed.
This chapter focuses on the underlying theoretical premises of this research and
on the technical mechanics of this nation-wide study of prison sexual behavior and sexual
violence. Technical research issues, for instance, design of the inmate sample, and an
explanation of how past prison research influenced the interview protocol
Primary Theoretical-Analytic Concepts
Prison Speech Community
A cultural study of prison sexual behavior and sexual violence relies on
more than simple interview data. Required as a basis for a research design and
methodology are theoretical concepts. These concepts influence interview

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62
instrument design, mode of analysis of interview data, and interpretation of
analyzed data. Data collection occurred in 30 prisons. However, these prisons
were conceptualized as prison speech communities. Each speech community had
a prison culture consistent with Clemmer’s theory of supra-individual culture.
Social and physical isolation influence the nature of speech in an isolated
community. The effect of physical and social isolation on members of a community
leads to the creation and use of common vocabulary and modes of speech in a mutually
acceptable manner. Such a community defines a speech community.10 In this research, a
speech community represents a primary linguistic and cultural analytic unit. This
analytic unit responds to internal and external influences. Inmate attributes brought into
prison influence the community’s culture and speech. A speech community reflects the
sensitivity of prison culture to outside influences.
Clemmer’s theory of culture included prison argot--the vocabulary derived within
a narrowly defined speech community, such as prison argot. He proposed that language
learning was a primary mechanism of cultural and social assimilation. Clemmer inferred
that commonly held cultural beliefs, attitudes, and norms are a function of inmates’
learning similar verbal modes of expression. The dynamic process of prisonization
necessarily carries variability in verbal expression and cultural knowledge. In short, a
speech community represents spoken culture. To learn forms of speech in prison means
the acquisition of prison culture.

10

William Labov coined the term and expanded the concept of speech community in the 1960s. That
physical and social isolation lead to shifts in vocabulary with the addition of new terms, redefinition of
terms, elimination of terms, shifts in meanings of terms and so on rests on fundamental linguistic theory to
explain the emergence of new languages and creation of dialects.

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63
The terms, phrases, and expressions gathered in interviews formed a Lexicon of
the Culture of Prison Sex (see Appendix A). This lexicon illustrates the uniqueness of
prison inmate culture as expressed in denotative and connotative meanings of sex-related
behavior. The lexicon was commonly understood with few exceptions among inmates
across the United States.
Clemmer’s Supra-Individual Theory of Culture
Clemmer’s theory of culture, differential prisonization, and adaptive styles to
prison culture are aimed at a broad understanding of the substantive nature of prison
culture and the dynamics of its acquisition. The theoretical power of his argument
centers on the supposition that cultural knowledge, therefore, its processes of
transmission, are supra-individual. The effect of a supra-individual culture ensures that
multiple generations of inmates, over possibly untold generations, will inherit knowledge
of preceding generations. A supra-individual culture suggests that inmates of the 21st
century learned via the prisonization process knowledge of prison culture and rules of
behavior learned by inmates of preceding generations.
Clemmer’s theory means that today’s prison researchers, by virtue of research
methodologies, such as interviews and surveys, have access to prison culture knowledge
that has accumulated over decades of prison life. This means that prisons across the
United States, like urban centers, will share a core body of prison culture knowledge and
to it, add local variations of culture and behavior. A test of supra-individual culture
comes through a comparison of research literature of the 1930s through the 1990s. If
prison culture were consistent over generations, researchers would have identified the
similarities. Researchers’ theoretical interpretations notwithstanding, substantive facts

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64
about prison sexuality and sexual violence have been consistent since the 1920s. If
culture were not supra-individual, prison research findings should clearly indicate
separation in fundamental core principles of prison culture. However, prison culture
research over the past 70 years has shown consistency in social structure and
organization, values, norms, and beliefs. By virtue of Clemmer’s theory of supraindividual culture and transmission via prisonization the interpretation of data gathered in
the 21st century yields insight into the history and future of prison culture.
Gathering Language and Culture Data
An experienced ethnographic interviewer could informally weave a path through
interviewee responses to gather an enormous dataset on prison culture and prison rape.
Now, at the conclusion of this study, the Principal Investigators would need one
question—“tell me about prison rape.” This question asked of knowledgeable inmates
could elicit responses that fully explore and explain prison rape within the context of
prison culture. Responses to queries may seem direct and straightforward, but
ethnographic interviewing faces influences that come from domains well outside the
standard prerequisites of interview design. Six key influences affect ethnographicinterview design and influence the scope and depth of ethnographic interpretation.
Ethnographic vs. Non-Ethnographic Queries
Nature of ethnographic questions
Specific types of interview questions gather culturally specific, or ethnographic,
data. There are ethnographic and non-ethnographic queries. In the context of this study,
ethnographic queries take the form, “Tell me about prison sex” and “Tell me about prison
rape.” Now, these two questions would be sufficient to elicit in extended open-ended
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65
interviews of two or three months or longer an in-depth look at the culture of prison rape.
More specifically, queries would include, “what is prison rape” and “what’s the
difference between sex act A (descriptor) and sex act B.” These queries would be
powerful for data collection, but ironically, they are most useful if interviewers have a
thorough grasp of a range of responses.
An effective way to approach ethnographic queries would be to ask, “what would
you ask if you were interviewing inmates about prison rape?” This question has a focal
topic but won’t give inmates or former inmates hints at responses. This question elicits
responses that define categories of culture knowledge. A prison sex culture category of
knowledge would be, for instance, ways of knowing if another inmate shows interest?
This type of interview also provides vocabulary terms. Wide-open questions are
especially valuable to ethnographic research. “What defines prison rape?” “How many
types of prison rape are there?” “How do inmates tell the difference between a turn-out
and a rape?” These queries would be useful in an unstructured interview—one without
pre-determined questions. Responses could determine categories of inquiry and
questions for an unstructured and semi-structured interview.
Non-ethnographic questions are formed as: “have you been forced to touch
someone’s genitals,” and if yes, “how many times have you been forced to do it.” The
responses may be ‘yes’ and ‘five.’ These responses are affirmations and a frequency of
an act. A cultural study focuses on what it ‘means to be forced to touch genitals. What
does it mean to be ‘forced’? What distinguishes a ‘forced’ from a consensual context?
How many types of forced and consensual contexts are there? How are they similar?
How are they different?

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66
Project Set-Up
Developing a methodology
This project’s methodology slowly emerged over the spring and summer of 2003.
The Principal Investigators collaborated with officials at the National Institute of Justice
(NIJ). Initial discussions of methodology focused on a single state, multi-site study of
sexual aggression in men’s prisons. This idea expanded into a single geographic area,
multi-state study of sexual aggression in multiple men’s and women’s prisons. Finally,
the project expanded into a nation-wide study.
The Principal Investigators wrote a concept paper focused on a nation-wide sociocultural study of inmate sexuality and aggression in men’s and women’s prison. Specific
exclusions of research data were decided upon with NIJ. These included an omission of
qualitative data, such as prison incident report logs, inmate grievances, and similar prison
records. This study’s analysis would be based solely on inmate interview data.
Excluded were prison sexual coercion and rape prevalence and incidence questions asked
of subjects in interviews; sexual violence and incident report data; and personal
interviews with all institution staff. The project researchers were asked to study
symbolic, linguistic, and functional issues in inmate culture in the context of prison
sexual aggression. This project explicitly excluded a statistical research design and
methodology. The study was to be conducted with an ethnographic methodology. Data
would be inmate interviews analyzed by thematic analysis generated by cultural patterns
discernable in inmate interviews. The interpretation was to emphasize inmates’
worldview on sexuality and aggression.

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67
NIJ and Principal Investigators agreed to generate a project Advisory Panel
comprised of nationally recognized, multi-discipline prison scholars and practitioners.
Advisory Panel scholar participants included: Dr. Neil Weiner (School of Public Policy,
University of Pennsylvania); Dr. James Jacobs (New York University School of Law);
Mr. William Thomas (inmate representative); Dr. Charles Lanier (SUNY Albany); Dr.
Janet Warren (University of Virginia, Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy,
School of Medicine and School of Law); Dr. Barbara Owen (California State University,
Fresno); Co-Principal Investigator Dr. Jessie Krienert (Illinois State University); Dr.
Allen J. Beck (Office of Justice Programs); Dr. Timothy A. Hughes (Office of Justice
Programs); Mr. William Saylor (Director, Office of Research and Evaluation, Federal
Bureau of Prisons); Dr. Gerry Gaes (contractor, NIJ); Mr. Andrew Goldberg (NIJ); and
Dr. Christopher Inness (NIJ). Members of the correctional practitioner community were
also included on the advisory panel.
Members of the Advisory Panel reviewed the project’s concept paper and initial
interview protocol. Dr. Fleisher presented the concept paper and protocol and took
panelists questions and comments. Dr. Owen reviewed her research at a California
women’s prison. The core of the discussion focused on site selection and sampling and
the protocol’s preliminary interview questions. The panel discussed definitions of
technical terms, such as rape and coercion, and their application in a cultural study.
Correctional institution site selection
Clemmer’s theory of culture relies on differential experiences in a prison and led
to the selection of high-security prisons instead of lower-security institutions (see Jones

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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68
and Schmid, 1989).11 High-security inmates were chosen based on the following
assumptions: they vs. lower-security inmates would have longer criminal histories; they
would have more involvement in violence; they would have greater likelihood of
physical, emotional, or sexual victimization at some time in their lives; they would have
greater likelihood of drug use outside or inside prison or both; they would have more
stints of different prisons; they would have more years of imprisonment; and the
likelihood was greater that they witnessed or engaged in sexual assault, sexual coercion,
prison rape, or one or several of these offenses.
The only selection variable was high security. Once satisfied, we then visited
institutions made available by agency directors (Commissioner or Secretary of
Corrections). Prison-site selection was consistent with a research assumption predicated
on Clemmer’s theory of culture. To refresh, his theory of culture assumes that prison
culture has universal dimensions. Prison culture, all things being equal, would show
greater cultural homogeneity than heterogeneity. In other words, prison culture in
institutions anywhere would be more alike than different. Cultural variance would come
in part from prison culture history and inmates’ street experiences and their community
socialization.
The National Institute of Justice and the Principal Investigators with advisory
panel input agreed upon a target number of interviews. A sample of 400 male and 200
female inmates was set for the project’s interview objective. Also agreed upon was the
11

Various names substituted for the term high-security. Some institutions had multiple custody levels
within a high-security prison, where, for instance, high custody and lesser custody inmates comprised a
single general population. In this case, we sampled across custody levels. In other places, high and lower
custody level inmates were divided physically into distinctly separate general populations. In this case, we
sampled only in higher custody institutions. Often, however, medium-custody inmates had once been highcustody inmates and had their custody level reduced over time. We based our sampling design on a single
method that was sampling high-security or high-custody general population. Efforts always confined
sampled inmates to medium or higher security level.

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69
number of prisons where interviews would occur. Thirty correctional institutions--23
male and 7 female, in 10 states was the target. With NIJ approval, the sample focused on
regionally based geographic representation. This focus resulted in the division of the
country into four regions with visits to several states each geographic region of the
United States.
Given the sensitivity of research on prison rape, the Principal Investigators and
NIJ knew that without explicit consent from the American Correctional Association
(ACA), state corrections directors would not likely respond positively to requests to
conduct prison rape interviews. Therefore, NIJ and the advisory panel determined at the
outset that research would proceed with consent of the ACA and the Association of State
Correctional Administrators (ASCA). An agreement of anonymity that applied to
regions, states, institutions, and institution staff was achieved with input from both
associations.
The initial contact procedure between state correctional agencies, Principal
Investigators, and NIJ, was agreed upon at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the
American Correctional Association. Afterward, the chairman of the Executive
Committee of ACA sent an email letter to members of ASCA. The email explained the
nature of the project and cordially requested cooperation. Correctional directors were
asked to contact Dr. Fleisher at Case.
Dr. Fleisher and members of the NIJ staff then attended two meetings of the
ASCA research committee. At these meetings, the research was discussed and questions
answered. After the first meeting, a number of commissioners volunteered to participate.
Three states withdrew citing a number of reasons, such as the extensive time staff would

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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70
have to invest in institution logistics. To maintain geographic diversity, six interview
sites were initially selected.
The agreement with ACA and ASCA required complete anonymity. Therefore,
although we are not permitted to list states or institutions that were visited, states within
each region did give consent, resulting in a geographically diverse sample.
Based on input from NIJ and the advisory panel, in conjunction with past
literature, high-security male and female institutions were targeted within each
consenting state. We selected inmates who actively participated in the general prison
population. All 23 men’s institutions were the highest-security level men’s prison
available in each state. When women’s institutions were multi-security level and housed
minimum, medium, and high security women inmates, we selected inmates from the
highest security level housing units within the institution. Therefore, all 30 institutions
contained high-security level, general population inmates.
Research Team
The research team included: two Principal Investigators; an experienced social
worker who was a graduate student at Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences
(MSASS), Case Western Reserve University (Case); and a professional social worker
with work experience in secure facilities for adult men with mental disorders. The
Principal Investigators were experienced prison researchers. The Principal Investigators
had done collaborative research for five years up to this time. Their numerous prison
research projects included hundreds of inmate interviews and clocked thousands of hours.
The professional social worker held an MSASS Master’s in Social Service
Administration. The social workers had experience interacting with difficult clients.

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71
Prior to inmate interviews, both team members went through extensive training.
Each read many dozens of prison sex research articles with an eye on interview
technique, questions asked, and anything the author reported that influenced interviews.
Members then joined the Principal Investigators on in-prison interviews, at first taking
notes but not asking questions, then recording notes and asking questions as they arose in
the interview. Members then conducted interviews in the company of one or both
Principal Investigators. Afterward, Principal Investigators critiqued interview technique
and interview notes. The interview process proceeded in this manner until the Principal
Investigators felt members were capable of handling an interview with a male inmate on
their own.
In the field: asking former inmates about prison sex
The research team12 spent five days in a high-crime community in a mid-western
city where Fleisher had conduct research over many years. There, he knew dozens of
adult men and women whose ages ranged from late teens to sixties. These former
inmates had been to prison at least once. Some had been imprisoned six to eight times.
He knew adolescent males and females who had been jailed in juvenile detention. Older
former inmates knew Fleisher well and discussed with the research team the dynamics of
their own socio-sexual life in prison. For instance, a middle-aged man who had been
imprisoned from his teenage years into his 50s over six different periods in several states
called himself as a ‘bootie bandit’ Most adolescents had at least one natal or extended
family member who had done prison time. Likewise, most adults had teenage or adult

12

The project’s program officer accompanied the research team and sat in on unstructured interviews and
on semi-structure interviews, done at the end of the week, to test possible questions asked of men and
women former inmates.

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72
children who had been or still were imprisoned. The topic of prison sex and prison rape
didn’t frighten them away. Unstructured interviews were conducted with one or several
former inmates on the street or in house porches or living rooms. Rather, they were eager
to talk about what they saw and heard in jails, juvenile institutions, and adult prisons.
To capture inmates’ meaning of sexual aggression, former inmates were given a
chance to create research questions. In this way, cultural information they thought was
important would emerge. These former inmates were prompted with an ethnographic
question: if you were studying prison rape what questions would you ask? What
questions should we ask? What are the most important ideas to cover? How can we be
sure we don’t get bogus answers? Then exploratory queries shifted to more specific
topics: “tell me about prison sex”; “tell me about prison rape”; and proceeded from there
in many directions, to include coercive sex, turning out inmates, bartering sex for
commissary items; and sexual violence. Old-timers gave a life-history account
discussing their memories of life in penitentiaries 20 to 30 years ago vs. prison life 10 to
15 years ago vs. today.
Each day provided a series of interview topics (themes), such as bartering for sex,
behavior of bootie bandits, rapists today versus rapists decades ago; debt repayment and
sex; gangs, sex, and rape; religion, sex, and rape; institutional control of sex and sexual
violence; and so on. Additionally, we took careful notes on sex-related vocabulary and
anecdotes about sexual aggression and aggressors.
Interview data were organized into categories: rape, rape and debts, rape and
retaliation, rape and gangs, rape and religious groups, prison control of sex and rape, and
so on. Interview questions were constructed using this general structural framework of

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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73
categories. For example, the question “what’s the reputation of a rapist in the general
population?” was based on comments made by middle-age former inmates who said that
back in the day, bootie bandits were seen as comedians and were well likely by the
general population. Today, however, bootie bandits have lost their humorous
connotation. Today they are rapists.
Office interviews with former inmates
Former inmates were interviewed. Four men each with 10 to 15 years of prison
experience volunteered for a group discussion on prison sex and prison rape. We asked
them draft questions, got their opinion on whether they thought inmates who don’t know
us would answer questions with a high degree of truthfulness, and used the questions to
generate an unstructured interview about prison sex and prison rape. Finally we asked
each former inmate to give us a typical answer to each question; that is, what would an
inmate likely say in response to this question. We wanted to know if questions would
elicit prison sex vocabulary in a natural way, if responses were long or short, if responses
required a few or many follow-up questions, and if categories of questions had to be
asked in a particular order: should management questions on prison rape appear before
or after asking inmate-culture questions on rape? In the end, former inmates agreed that
if we ask culturally sound questions inmates would be less likely to ‘game’ us than if we
sounded like university professors. In short, the more inmates thought we knew, the
better their responses would be.
Some of this project’s stakeholder organizations found that some questions were
too sensitive to ask inmates. Sensitivity refers to risk level for a responding inmate in the

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74
context of participating in general population. Risk also affected correctional
institutions’ reputations.
Testing the instrument in prison
By the time we field tested a draft instrument we were well steeped in inmates’
perceptions and vocabulary of prison culture and prison rape. In the field we found that
our first draft version, which tried to include all topics former inmates said were
important and was too wordy and unwieldy, too complex, and took hours to complete.
An example of a single question on version one follows below.
•

Have you ever known an inmate who was killed behind sex? Explain.
o Follow up question to inmate: Are there terms for this type of killing?
o Follow up question to interviewer: Elicit term and mutually exclusive
definitions. Identify synonyms and near synonyms. Ask inmate to give
the correct use of each term.
A second draft version attempted to hone in on culturally important variables,

such as inmates’ attitudes toward rape inside and outside prison. Inmates said this
version was redundant, and asked for the same information in too many ways. An
example follows below.
•

What do inmates think of a free man/woman who rapes a free man/woman
outside?

•

What do inmates think of a man/woman inmate who rapes a [man/woman inmate]
inside?

•

What do dudes think of a man/woman who rapes a [man/woman] inside?

•

Are there terms for free men/women who rape free men/women outside?

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75
o Follow up question to inmate: Are there terms for this type of rape?
o Follow up question to interviewer: Elicit term and mutually exclusive
definitions. Identify synonyms and near synonyms. Ask inmate to give
the correct use of each term.
The third version narrowed the questioning and shortened questions and made them
less complex and tiresome. And, we put vocabulary in a separate section for two reasons.
First, the same types of questions were in one place to maintain a single train of thought.
Second, answers to some vocabulary questions stimulated thinking about other
vocabulary. All in all, however, the most effective way to elicit vocabulary was in long
responses wherein inmates used vocabulary in a natural way.
Questions from the second and third drafts were field tested at a men’s and a
women’s prison. At first, some questions were ambiguous to some inmates in the sense
they weren’t sure how to respond or didn’t understand what the question was asking for.
Some questions were too terse and needed additional explanation or too wordy and let
inmates lose concentration. Standard English vocabulary was sometimes too complex.
Some questions exceeded inmates’ education level to give answers. In such a case, “I’m
not sure how to say it,” or something similar was their response. However, the term rape
was confused by inmates and seemed inconsistent with the ways they thought about rape.
In other words, women inmates could respond to questions with the term rape. However,
their answers didn’t flow naturally in speech.
In women’s prison culture, sexual violence was likened to the free-community’s
concept of domestic violence. However, prison rape was culturally associated with
broken love affairs. Men inmates said that if prison rape were to occur, a common

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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76
context would be broken lover affairs. This conceptualization of prison sexual violence
within a specific cultural context motivated a series of questions on violence and rape in
prison domestic relationships.
Instrument Development: Influences from Previous Research
Fishman (1934), Clemmer (1940), and Sykes (1958) used unstructured interviews.
Data were gathered with semi-structured and unstructured interviews. Unstructured
interviews were used to explore concepts with former inmates. However, comparability
of answers among hundreds of interviewees required a semi-structured open-ended
instrument. Their findings were derived from active participation as prison employees
and observation.
From the earliest to modern studies researchers reported data and posited
interpretations about prison culture, inmate sexual behavior, and prison rape. Many of
their ideas have been in the literature for five and six generations; however, citations here
represent their first appearance in the literature.13 Each research finding illustrates a
research, prison culture, or prison rape cultural theme. A theme refers to a persistent
pattern in inmates’ narrative responses.
A literature review shows conceptual theories and non-conceptual findings.
Conceptual findings are abstract outcomes of inductive analysis. These result from the
inductive process of interview-data analysis. Conceptual theories are often influenced by
social theory outside the domain of prison culture research. For example, Bem’s 1974

13

First appearance of concepts and interpretation has difficulties, especially when, for instance, early
researchers, such as Fishman infers sexual deprivation but doesn’t use the term deprivation.

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77
gender-role socialization theory14 was not based on prison data but does nevertheless
explain the emergence and nature of women inmates’ pseudo-families. Non-conceptual
findings are substantive. Interview questions based on substantive findings may or may
not lead to broad conceptual findings. Below are findings from previous prison studies.
They are divided into a conceptual and a non-conceptual category. Comparing the two
types of findings illustrates how current research expands on earlier findings.
This project’s interview instrument incorporated key concepts drawn from the
history of prison culture research. Concepts are generalizations. These are listed below
along with citations of their first appearance in the literature. Non-conceptual findings
report behavioral facts. Behavioral facts are data used to support generalizations.
Generally speaking, this research reconfirms the list of substantive findings.
Conceptual findings
•

Men inmates’ homosexual conduct results from situational pressure (Clemmer,
1940).

•

As inmates do more time their pains of imprisonment diminish(Garabedian,
1963).

•

Most prisoners don’t require sex (Gagnon and Simon, 1968).

•

Prison rape doesn’t represent a ‘devastating epidemic,’ but homosexuality does
represent an adaptation to prison life (Johnson, 1971).

14

Bem, S.L. (1974). The measurement of psychological androgyny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical
Psychology 42, 155-162.

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78
•

Heterosexuals outside may become prison homosexuals as an adaptation to prison
life while others undergo this sexual transition out of weakness (Hensley and
Tewksbury, 2002).

Substantive findings
•

Correctional officers have a negative attitude toward homosexuals (Johnson,
1971).

•

Estimates of prison rape are regularly higher than self-reported incidence
(Tewksbury, 1989).

•

Masturbation represent inmates’ primary sexual outlet (Kirkham, 1971).

•

Fifty percent of women have sex in prison (Kassebaum, 1972).

•

Attributes of perpetrators and victims influence on sexual violence (Lockwood,
1980).

•

Targets of sexual violence are likely to become egregiously violent (Lockwood,
1980; Wright, 1994).

•

Prison rape occurs rarely (Lockwood, 1980).

•

Inmates fear prison violence and prison rape and as a result put themselves in
social positions of safety (McCorkle, 1993).

The final interview instrument was influenced by previous research and opened new
approaches to prison culture and sexual violence.
Final Interview Instrument: Descriptive Categories
The final interview instrument divided interview questions into analytic
categories. These are, for instance, rape and social process. The instrument also included
questions that explore analytic categories (see Appendix B for the final interview

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79
instrument). In its final form, the interview instrument accomplished two objectives.
First, interview questions were derived from a preliminary analysis of data gathered from
former inmates. Thus, the questions and concepts they represent are culturally valid lines
of inquiry. Second, the interview sought data to find overlapping categories of cultural
information. An example would be an association of inmates’ religious affiliation with a
social group, such as a gang, chosen for its protective value. Together, these two
objectives provide insight into inmates’ adaptive strategies to prison life (see Safe Zones,
in this report).
Interview Instrument: Categorical Structure
Demographic Information. Basic personal demographics including, age, race,
sexual orientation and marital status were used to gather baseline comparison data about
the sample.
Prison History. An array of questions involving past and present incarceration
and prison living arrangements provided contextual data for the social process of prison
rape.
Mental Health. Recent research (Bauman, Catanesse, & Wallace, 2002;
Fishbein, 2000) shows that psychological and emotional disorders have a direct bearing
on sexual and non-aggression. Questions about childhood physical and sexual abuse, as
well as prison and community treatment for mental health issues, provided a sense of
inmates’ use of mental health facilities.
Rape. Specific questions were used to understand the social patterns of sexual
interactions, cultural meanings of inmate sexual behavior, cultural knowledge of sexual
behavior and sexual violence, and institutional climate responses to inmate sexuality, and

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80
so on. Questions tested inter-relationships between sexual violence and economics,
personal adaptive strategies, daily routines, and so on. For example, how does
commissary or money work in relation to sex?
Social Dynamics/Social Process. Decades of prison research referred to inmate
social structure and dynamics but few studies gained a micro-social understanding of the
interactions. Social process questions elicited responses that captured data on the effect
of religious groups, gangs, and race on sexual activity and sexual violence. This line of
questioning had historical precedent in prison research (Moss, Hosford and Anderson
1979; Lockwood, 1980; cf. Chonco, 1989).
Free Lists. Freelisting has been a common technique in cognitive anthropology
over decades and still finds uses in modern research. Freelisting permits systematic data
collection on the cultural knowledge of a cognitive domain, such as sexual behavior.
Fleisher (1972) and Fleisher and Harrington (1998) were first to use a free list
methodology in prison research. They applied a free list methodology to create a sociocultural model of organizational influences, such as emergence of communication
channels, on the development of organizational culture and climate in new prisons. In
this project, free list data collection asks subjects to respond as briefly as possible with
single words or short expressions to focused questions, such as why do inmates have sex
with other inmates?
Lexical elicitation. Clemmer’s theory of culture and prisonization focus on
learning specialized forms of communication (jargon). The instrument included an
exhaustive list of lexical questions, which described social activity and sex roles from a
number of approaches. However, the best lexical data come in natural conversations with

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81
inmates in unstructured and semi-structured interviews. Therefore, at any point in the
interview if an inmate’s discourse included sex-role or activity-related terminology, terms
were recorded and highlighted. Each term was defined, synonyms were collected, and
terms were used in full sentences.
Inter-personal Relationships/Domestic Violence. Domestic violence refers to a
subset of social relationships and dynamics. Research reported inmate conflict resulted
as an outcome of couple dynamics (see, for instance, Kirkham 1971). Researchers didn’t
conceptualize such conflict within a theoretical paradigm of domestic violence. The
instrument queries the relationship between physical conflict and affective fulfillment as
a function of relationship length. Such an approach delves into an early research finding
(see Ward and Kassebaum, 1964) that women inmates find emotional satisfaction in
sexual relations. These data find limits on such satisfaction.
Staff. Research literature doesn’t generally find positive relations between
inmates and staff. Karpman’s 1948 study noted that prison staff quelled sexual deviance
with “violent intervention.” Eigenberg (1989, 2000) found that correctional officers’
responded negatively to inmates frightened by the anxiety of rape. The instrument sought
to obtain inmates’ perspectives on several topics: inmate/staff interactions; inmates’
perceptions of staff attempts to control sexual violence; and on inmates’ opinions about
inmates who have sexual relations with male or female staff.
Institutional Factors. Institution-level questions exceed the boundary of
managerial prevention and intervention of sexual violence. Institutional queries searched
for inmates’ thoughts on the general nature of a correctional bureaucracy. For example,
the instrument asked: can an agency keep you safe? These types of questions sought to

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82
differentiate line-level behavior of correctional officers from broader conceptual issues.
In other words, correctional officers doing rounds can influence safety more directly than
an institution’s or agency’s policies on protective custody and transfers as mechanisms of
inmate protection.
Perception of Social Roles. Finally, inmates were asked to estimate the number
of inmates who played socio-sexual roles. Inmates weren’t asked for percentages.
Testing found the concept of percentage was confusing to poorly educated inmates.
Rather, inmates were asked to estimate the number of, say, straights in a group of 100
inmates.
Interview instrument: significance in the order of question categories
The interview had 12 sections. First were demographics and prison history.
These were “public record” type of questions, which were less threatening than pointed
questions about prison rape. Demographic questions eased the respondent into the
interview and help build rapport. Mental health items continued rapport building and
provided interviewers with information about interviewees that might assist in follow-up
questions. Physical and sexual abuse and mental health treatment history would
contextualize rape responses and offer on-the-spot insight into responses. Institutionbased treatment outside prison explored inmates’ treatment history but also explored their
willingness to rely on organizational entities. Such responses may provide insight into
why inmates’ said institutions and staff could or could not protect or assist them.
At the interview’s outset before fatigue or boredom occurred, rape questions were
asked. These queries weren’t personal. Interviews weren’t permitted to ask inmates if
they were rape victims or rapists, or if they were turn-out artists or had been turned out.

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83
Next were objective, easy-to-answer free list questions. These were open-ended
items that asked respondents to list terms and short expressions. Free list questions gave
inmates a respite from concentrating on serious questions.
After free list questions, came social dynamics and domestic violence/relationship
questions designed to query risk and resiliency factors. Once inmates discussed rape in
general terms, they would be primed for discussions of the social process that may lead to
sexual violence. Lexical elicitation in the middle of the interview provided another
pause from serious previous sections and an introduction to the final sections.
Sections on staff and institutional factors influencing rape and informal and
formal social control (again, risk and resiliency) were considered especially important,
considering that research literature often reported negative line-staff conduct in response
to sexual violence. By this stage of the interview, inmates were more relaxed and
responsive. Perceptions of social roles concluded the interview. Inmates’ perceptions on
social roles by role frequency were important, especially in the context of mixed
responses on sexual role frequencies in published literature. Advisory Panel members
strongly advised against asking questions they deemed too politically sensitive. Several
questions were dropped for this reason.
Inmate Sampling Design
Clemmer’s theoretical model of differential scope and depth of prison cultural
knowledge depends on controllable and non-controllable issues in prisonization,
including housing and work assignments, social interactions, pre-prison experiences, and
so on. This research did control for inmate security level but could not control for several
variables. These included inmates’ pre-prison and post-prison sexual and non-sexual

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84
experiences; inmates’ intellectual ability; inmates’ verbal ability to express complex
ideas15; effects of substance abuse and mental health on speech ability; and inmates’
exposure to prison incidents of sexual aggression, prison rape, and sexual coercion. The
last point demanded attention because it hit the heart of Clemmer’s argument that
differential prisonization influenced inmates’ knowledge base of prison culture. Stated
another way, inmates’ prison-culture knowledge would be determined by personal
experiences that cannot be shared equally among all inmates. In the end, inmates acquire
different perspectives on prison culture and prison rape. Even though the research used a
systematic random sample of 564 general population inmates in 30 prisons in 10 states
equal exposure to and knowledge of prison rape and its causes and conditions could not
be guaranteed.
This study’s goal determined its sampling design. The goal was an objective
analysis of inmates’ subjective perspectives on sexuality and sexual violence. Given this
goal, sampling did not require targeting interviews with alleged rapists and rape victims.
Clemmer’s theoretical premise would argue that the commission of rape does not
necessarily infer a rapist, to the exclusion of other inmates, knows a lot about the culture
of prison sexual behavior. Rather, this study sought general cultural knowledge and
sought to gather a cross-section of cultural knowledge.
Limitations of sampling design
In consultation with the advisory panel and other correctional and prison experts,
and in order to preserve human subjects’ regulations, it was suggested that interviews
with alleged rapists and rape victims would increase victimization risk to the rape victim
15

Hensley & Tewksbury (2002, 226-243) note 60 to 70 percent of inmates are illiterate.

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85
and may increase risk to the rapist who would be under investigation. For the same
reason, interviewees were not asked if they had raped someone or participated in a rape.
Answers to such questions would require reports of alleged crime to the warden’s office.
Additionally, such questions might add political or legal risk to correctional operations
and programs.
Discussions with NIJ, ACA, and ASCA ruled out several types of sampling.
Non-probability designs, such as judgment, snow-ball, theoretical, and purposive
sampling, often used in cultural studies were excluded. Given the theory guiding this
research, a systematic sampling design fit the theory well.
Once a state director granted permission, a senior-level institution staff member
was assigned as a research liaison. All logistical issues were handled via contact between
Dr. Fleisher and an institution liaison. Specific instructions on interview procedures (see
Appendix C) were emailed to the liaison and discussed by phone prior to institution visit.
Consistent with ACA, ASCA, and NIJ recommendations, several limitations were placed
on interview candidates. Specifically, interviewed inmates were to come from general
prison population.
Sample procedures were based on classical population probability sampling. A
systematic sample selected a random start and a fixed selection-interval number thereafter.
Each institutional liaison provided researchers with an inmate general population roster. The
number of general population inmates (restrictions cited above) on an institution’s sample
roster was divided by the number of subjects required by the projected number of interviews
conducted in a week. Forty male inmates and 30 women inmates were the minimum number of
weekly interviews. The general population count was divided by 40 or 30 to create an interval

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86
number. A staff member was asked to pick a number from one to the interval number. This
number was applied to the roster to find the first interviewee. To select the second inmate, the
interval number was added to the number of the first inmate selected. This pattern continued
until the minimum number of inmates was selected. Then, 15 to 20 inmates per institution
were added, using the same procedure, to the interview roster. These inmates covered refusals,
transfers, hospitalizations, and other unexpected circumstances.
If an institution has 1000 research-eligible inmates provided on a general
population roster, researchers divided 1000 by 40, to get the interval number 25. If in the
range of 1 to 25, a staff member selected the number 5, the fifth inmate on the roster
would be the first inmate subject. The second subject would be the 30th inmate (5 + 25),
followed by the 55th, 80th, and so on. Special inmate populations including inmates in
administrative detention; disciplinary segregation; hospitalized inmates; inmates in
residential substance abuse units; inmates in mental heath residential units; protective
custody; non-sentenced inmates; inmates in transit units; and INS detainees or deportees
were not included.
Informed Consent Process
Case’s social science IRB approved the Privacy Certificate and protocol. In
addition, the Principal Investigators were asked on two occasions to submit the protocol
for a state-level human subjects’ review. When granted permission to interview,
directors’ were asked to sign an Institution Inmate-Interview Consent Form and return it
to it to Dr. Fleisher.
Sampled inmates on call-out arrived at the interview location knowing they had
been selected for a research project. Inmates refused to be interview about twice per

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87
institution. They refused when they heard the interview was about prison rape. Either
they said they had not raped anyone on the street or in prison, or knew nothing about rape
in either place. In any case, refusals didn’t want to be associated with the term rape.
Some refused when they learned they wouldn’t receive a letter of cooperation to place in
their file to help at parole time.
Once inmate interviewees were settled in the interview room, interviewers
identified themselves and began the informed consent procedure. The interviewer
reviewed with and for each inmate the approved Institution Consent Document paragraph
by paragraph. Interviewers stressed that interviews were voluntary, that inmates could
refuse to answer any question or questions, that they could end the interview at any time,
and that early termination of an interview would not lead to a penalty implemented by the
institution.
The research team provided as much protection as possible for inmates and
correctional agencies. We had to guarantee to corrections agencies, institutions, and
inmates confidentially for their participation. To achieve confidentiality we did not give
interviewed inmates a copy of the informed consent form. Once an informed consent
form was in inmates’ possession we couldn’t control what happened to it, who saw it,
how it might be used against inmates or corrections agencies, or in legal proceedings
when inmates allege they were co-opted or forced to participate or threatened by officials
that non-cooperation would end up in their parole file or that they would be given an
incident report for failure to program or something similar. Further we didn’t want this
study broadcast in the media, thus violating confidentiality, if an informed consent

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88
statement ended up in a newsroom or courtroom in a lawsuit against a specific
correctional agency as identified by a released inmate.
Unanticipated events
On three occasions there was what we considered deliberate attempts by
institution staff to disrupt the interviews and frighten selected inmates. In one state,
correctional officers would not permit interview room doors to be securely closed, no
matter how many times they were asked to conform to interview procedure.
Additionally, staff walked into the same interview rooms repeatedly even after they were
asked not to. In one instance, a senior institution staff member told a group of inmate
interviewees they didn’t have to do interviews and that there was no rape at that
institution. In another case, a senior staff member disregarded the inmate selection
request and created an on-the-spot convenience sample. After returning from this state, a
protocol violation was filed with the Case’s IRB and an unanticipated events protocol
was filed, accepted, and implemented (see Appendix D for the protocol modification).
Difficulty was encountered in only two institutions in the same state. During this isolated
incident, the research team realized staff interference could bias the narrative data, and
these interviews were excluded from the analysis.
Interview guidelines
The research team arrived at an institution either before or after work call at eight
or eight-thirty in the morning. Work call was busy with staff entering and exiting the
institution. The team tried hard to avoid interfering with staff work. After the research
team entered an institution, the team was first greeted by the (senior) warden and his or

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89
her staff. They were told that the research team was not employed by the National
Institute of Justice but were funded by NIJ to conduct prison rape research. They were
told the types of questions being asked but were not permitted to read the protocol.16
They were told specifically that prison-rape interviews were not institution operational
reviews or program evaluation interviews. They were repeatedly ensured of the
confidentiality of interview information. They were told that institutions and interviewed
inmates would not be known by anyone, including federal officials. They were told that
the study’s final report would be based on aggregate data with the purpose of searching
out trends in inmates’ responses to interview questions.
Inmate sampling procedures and the process of informed consent were reviewed
by phone and in writing, and private, out-of-way interview rooms were arranged, before
arriving at an institution. Although sampling procedures were reviewed, institution
executive were assured that we were not “stacking the deck,” as some institution staff
referred to it, by pre-selecting a cohort of inmates who, in some way, had a grudge
against prison staff. Staff were told that sampled inmates would be asked exactly the
same questions; that personal information on anyone cited in an interview would not be
collected; and that specific incidents of and participants in alleged prison rape incidents
or other types of sexual assault would not be sought for interviews. Inmates were
explicitly warned to withhold information on previous and future institution rule
violations; and, that prior or future incidents of violence of any type mentioned in the
interview would be reported to the warden’s office.

16

The two states that required state-level IRB approval retained copies of the instrument. Otherwise
institution officials did not ask for it.

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90
The research team worked all day interviewing inmates. Selected inmates were
on call-out and at an appointed time arrived at the interview area. In some instances,
inmates were placed on call-out a day or two before we arrived. In those cases, the
Principal Investigators gave a warden’s representative explicit instructions on how to
create the required sample. In other cases, a sample was determined once the research
team arrived and then inmates were placed on call-out. Wardens often wanted to see the
mechanics of drawing the sample. Samples taken before the research team arrived were
reviewed to ensure the sample was done correctly and that indeed no one at an institution
stacked the deck. The day ended at afternoon count around four in the afternoon. Staff
were always pleasant then and didn’t order us to leave, but it was obvious that continued
interviewing would disrupt staffer’s late-day operations. Interviews rolled from day to
the next until at least the sample quota was achieved.
Analysis
Recurring “Pieces” of Prison-Rape Knowledge
Speech carries “pieces” of knowledge. These pieces stimulate the emergence of
other pieces. These in turn stimulate other pieces to emerge. Pieces of knowledge
aggregate to form comprehensive categories of cultural information. Clemmer’s theory
of culture and language predicts that inmates on the whole will share a body of
knowledge but will also possess specialized information. By virtue of prisonization
inmates will share similar categories of knowledge. However, inmates in different
housing units or jobs, Clemmer wrote, will acquire different information. Barring mental
illness or organic damage inmates should say similar things about similar topics. This
would be analogous to free citizens on the east and west coast, people who’ve never

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91
spoken to one another, sharing similar ideas on a variety of topics. An interview captures
hundreds of pieces of knowledge. A greater number of interviews provided greater depth
and scope of knowledge than fewer interviews.
Significance of cultural information
Similar pieces of knowledge might recur in 20 or 50 or 100 interviews. However,
frequency of occurrence may indicate degree of shared knowledge but does not
necessarily impute cultural significance. Simply put, some information will be more
important than other information. How then can a cultural analysis assess significance of
information when qualitative analysis doesn’t normally use statistical measures of
significance? First, cultural significance does not necessarily issue from frequency of
identifiable pieces of knowledge. That a majority of inmates know recreation yard hours
doesn’t mean such information carries cultural significance. This instrumental
information would be less significant than ways inmates learn to keep safe.
Cultural significance can be imputed to concepts, acts, attitudes, or perceptions of
prison quality of life that has a central role in inmates’ prison life. Such information may
have survival significance on inmates’ thinking about acts of behavior. Analysts can
know if cultural information has a central role in cultural knowledge even if there are no
statistical measures of a ‘central role.’ Stated another way, prison knowledge with the
highest level of cultural significance generates rules of social behavior assessed as critical
to prison survival by inmates themselves. Such knowledge would very likely be shared
by a high percentage of inmates. Inmates would share a consensus of knowledge.17

17

We can determine level of consensus with a consensus analysis. Our research did not propose a
consensus analysis; however, we could nevertheless derive a research design from the results of this
research.

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92
Clemmer’s theory of culture does not provide a mechanism to determine
the significance or value of cultural information. Do conversations have greater
meaning than firsthand experiences? What types of firsthand experiences have
the most or least cultural value? Does gossip about a prison rape have less impact
on inmates than a verbal account of firsthand observation or victimization?
In the context of Clemmer’s theory, inmates may know relatively little
information about prison rape by virtue of where they are housed (a cell or dorm),
their place of employment, or the criminal behavior of friends of their friends. On
the other hand, possessing strong opinions, beliefs, and attitudes about prison rape
has no necessary relationship to inmates’ first-hand personal experiences.
Cultural information can be broken into bits and pieces, or themes. A theme
refers to a redundant pattern, in this case, in interview data. The goal of thematic
analysis finds cultural themes and then links them into cultural systems of
thought. Themes possess the experience of inmates whether such experience
refers to actual behavior or the act of listening to someone else talk (Ryan &
Bernard, 2003:87)
Data collection
Interview data were collected in near-verbatim transcriptions of inmate
interviews. Interviewers typed question responses as close to verbatim as possible into a
Microsoft Word interview template. IRB restrictions and the sensitivity of the topic
precluded tape recording. Anticipating the potential use of tape recordings in law suits
filed by an interviewed inmate against an institution or agency, coupled with the fear that

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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93
inmates’ voices could be identified in court, even if regions, states, and institutions were
anonymous entered into this decision.
Computer aided qualitative analysis
Interviewers gathered 564 narratives. They were coded in the qualitative analysis
program, Atlas/ti.18 A code refers to a short-hand or an abbreviation for a more
comprehensive concept. This software does not identify codes. Rather it allows
researchers a manageable way to handle large narrative datasets that need to be coded.
The application has features built-in to house a code book and to add comments about
specific narrative sections. In other words, researchers can add comments, questions, and
notes anywhere they wish in the narrative and then easily retrieve them. Analysis of
narratives requires the application of codes to narratives. The software allows users to
create quotations linked to a specific code or codes. This software permits analysts to
pull up all quotations marked by specific codes, which makes comparison of large blocks
of narratives linked to codes easier to handle.
Narratives were cleaned, managed, and organized in a specific procedure.
Initially, interviewers cleaned their own data. Cleaning began at the end of an interview
or immediately after exiting an institution. Cleaned interviews were proofed by two
members of the research team. If items were unclear or needed clarification, the original
interviewer added needed clarification in brackets at the end of the section. Cleaned
interviews were sanitized to remove any words, phrases, nicknames, cellblocks or dorm

18

ATLAS.ti, The Knowledge Workbench: version 4.1 for Windows 95 and Windows NT 1997. Thomas
Muhr, Scientific Software Development. Germany: Berlin.

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94
identifiers, cities, counties, or states that could identify an inmate, institution, state or
region. Dr. Krienert, CO-PI, was ‘keeper of the codes.’ Customary in major projects, the
keeper of the codes was the final authority on cleaning and sanitizing interviews, coding
narratives, and entering them into Atlas/ti.
Transferring data to Atlas/ti
Entering data into Atlas/ti was not analogous to entering numeric data into
software. Cleaned and sanitized primary documents – whole interviews, not variable
values, were entered into the analytic software. The keeper of the codes converted
cleaned and sanitized files into a plain text format and uploaded each individual interview
into what Atlas/ti calls an Hermeneutic Unit (HU). Technically, a complete narrative
dataset gathered on one project or on one research topic comprises one hermeneutic unit
in Atlas/ti. Interviews are called primary documents. Codes, comments, quotations,
concept relationships, and so on associated with a primary document comprise an HU,
which eases handling of massive datasets.
Advantages of the Atlas/ti Method
Atlas/ti automates data handling, but in effect mirrors the way ethnographers
handled data by hand with 3 x 5 cards and stacks of interview, observation, comments,
queries, and future research directions in notebooks 30 years ago. Traditional
ethnographers take hard copy interviews and break them into meaningful elements, add
comments and questions about them, and cross-link them with other interviews and
elements, forming a network of integrated ‘basic elements of meaning’ and related
comments, questions, ideas for future interviews and analysis, and so on.

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95
Atlas/ti automates this process on two levels. First, Atlas/ti allows for the
segmentation of interview text into meaningful units, such as words, phrases, acts, and
events. Atlas/ti does not analyze narrative data in the sense that it identifies behavior
patterns and cultural themes in the absence of an analyst’s specific queries about
linkages. Atlas/ti yields whatever we enter. This program cannot do the simplest types
of data analysis, such as cross-tabs or frequencies.
Atlas/ti’s strength falls on data management, which requires a massive effort on a
dataset as large as 564 interviews. Atlas/ti makes explicit all narrative data, code use,
researcher comments on codes, quotations that are examples of codes, and coded
distribution. Hand sorting of 3 x 5 note card that would take hours, takes seconds with
Atlas/ti. Atlas/ti allows narratives to be quantified by allowing analysts to compare, in
this case, 564 answers to the same questions.
Weaknesses of Atlas/ti
On the other side, Atlas/ti mechanics are difficult to master. Atlas/ti has its own
technical vocabulary that must be mastered in order to achieve any type of analysis. Its
menus are obtuse and its built-in instructions are incomplete and often confusing,
especially to new users. Statements describing how to integrate analytic process are
poorly written. Researchers must be prepared to invest a great deal of time and effort and
staff training to use Atlas/ti.
Codes and Coding

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96
Codes are short-hand versions of significant content in interview narratives.
Applying a set of codes to interview narratives for the purpose of identifying code
frequency, code-use patterns, code co-occurrences, and tracking ideas, attitudes, social
processes, and interviewees’ interpretations has been called text analysis. Text analysis
‘discovers’ and then applies codes. Codes are word labels for acts, events, processes, and
their combinations. Codes enable us to identify and track in an interview text, acts, such
as ‘Coco ripped off T-Man’s shoes’; social processes, such as debt: ‘T-Bone owed
Jimmy John $200 and got beat up behind it’; attitudes, such as ‘rapists are psychos’;
beliefs, such as ‘rapists are weak’; and, interpretations, such as ‘Tim didn’t get raped, he
likes hard sex.’
Structural and Thematic Codes
Structural codes
Structural codes assign a distinctive identifier to each interview question. This
permits analysts to generate a list of responses for each structurally coded question. For
each structural code, we can output response locations among all interviews. For
example, the interview question “Have you ever known a rape victim who was killed?”
was denoted by the structural code “Rape_Victim_Kill”. Atlas/ti not only allows
researchers to easily find the question’s corresponding narrative in each survey, it also
allows researchers to query all responses to this question. Since structural codes are
embedded into the text interview, Atlas/ti automates the coding process by searching for
the embedded codes and coding the entire response.

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97
Thematic codes
A code represents a heuristic form, or shorthand version, of a theme. Themes are
products of inductive analysis and were identified by analyzing hundreds of interviews.
In this project rape was a primary theme. Fourteen themes were inductively derived from
the interview narratives. Each primary theme had sub-themes, which offered additional
details about a theme. Sub-themes made coding narratives easier to code for details. If
the code rape were used to code all incidents where inmates discussed sexual violence,
analysis could not easily distinguishing among the incidents. Sub-codes allowed for
easier identification of detailed information. Codes were treated as nominal, or
qualitative, variables (see Appendix E for the thematic codebook, and Appendix F for the
SPSS codebook).
Enumerated below are examples taken directly from Atlas/ti illustrating thematic
coding of narrative data. This illustrated code is: [T_Sex_Theory_Time]. This code
refers to inmates’ theories on how doing time influences inmate sexual behavior. This
code was derived via induction. The label P92: PSF8-4.txt - 92:146 (460:462) was a
reference number: P92 refers to the interview number in the HU; PSF8-4 refers to a
specific interview (F=female prison); and (460-462) refers to the initial and end line
number of the quotation. Data below are verbatim from Atlas/ti.
P20: PSM3-6.txt - 20:117 (475:480) (Super)
Codes: [T_Sex_Theory_Time]

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98
“There really is no straight person, just someone who has
never been touched yet, especially here, they might start off
that way, but if they got 90 years it’s just a matter
of time, so they’re just not touched yet.”
The next example illustrates multi-coded responses. Note that the single thematic
code [T_Sex_Theory_Time] attaches to the structural code [SP_Groups_Other] (SP
refers to social process section of instrument). A second thematic code attaches as well
[T_Inmate_SR_Predator]. There are two thematic codes concatenated to a structural
code.
P16: PSM3-2.txt - 16:73 (614:618) (Super)
Codes: [T_Inmate_SR_Predator] [T_Sex_Theory_Time]
SP_Groups_Other: It can go either way, time will rub off
on some people , they been down 15 or 20 years they get
into that mold and feel like they gotta rape people or take
everything, that’s the way prison life is. Or at least was.
Text coding requires an intensive familiarity with thematic codes and their
distinctive features. Coding text requires the ability to spot narratives that correspond to
thematic codes and to spot narratives that express important concepts for which there are
no thematic codes.
Coding process
Coders attended ATLAS/ti training workshops. Once the mechanics of Atlas/ti
were mastered, coders practiced coding on interview narratives. Atlas/ti and code

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99
training were conducted Dr. Gery Ryan, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, CA. Coders
practiced on narratives until their coding matched the CO-PI coding.
Coding doesn’t refer to a procedure that, once done the first time, ends. Rather
coding must be done repeatedly as the narrative base increases in size and complexity.
As the interview narrative base increases so does the complexity of codes and interrelationships among codes. Today’s coding may have to revise coding done previously
given shifting ideas and interpretations. Atlas/ti allows researchers to house a large set of
codes and code definitions. An example of thematic code as it appears in Atlas/ti follows
below.
T_Sex_SZ_Institution
Description: institutional social control from having sex;
Institutional safe zones, sex avoidance techniques
Inclusion Criteria: any mention of institutional safety and
security used to stop rape or sex
Exclusion Criteria: officer specific activity (monitoring,
write-ups)
Examples: single cell as a way to prevent rape or sex;
Periphery Examples: Prisney world (inmates term to refer
to a safe, quiet penitentiary)
Code training helped to broaden inclusion and exclusion criteria in order to aid in
code consistency. Additionally, after initial coding by a member of the research team,
the CO-PI second coded all interviews to ensure consistent coding across team members.
If coding errors were found, all team members were notified and the distinctive criteria

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100
for ATLAS/ti was updated to highlight the problem. Two additional coding “in-service”
type workshops were conducted during the coding process to ensure accurate coding
throughout the duration of the project. The CO-PI made final decisions on coding.
Data Entry and Verification
Quantitative data were derived by hand from narrative responses and placed into
SPSS. The CO-PI began this process by identifying which questions would likely yield
quantifiable information. In order to verify the entered data, SPSS data entry builder was
used. This program allows for easy entry and verification of SPSS datasets.
Atlas/ti counts terms, phrases, and expressions. However, the number of times
particular terms, phrases, and expressions appear across narratives does not necessarily
reflect cultural significance. Thematic code T_Inmate_SR_Punk {248-0} was applied
248 times in 564 interviews to questions about the social dynamics of family roles of
punks. For Example:
“SD_Family_Roles: They [punks] do what the women do, a stay at home mom,
take care of the cell, make guys food for him. Carry drugs and shanks if their
dudes are in the business, like a mule in a sense, will do whatever to keep their
man out of the hole. I've seen the homo stab someone just to go to the hole to be
with their man, very loyal.”
Analysts are still left with the problem of determining cultural significance of punks and
they fit into the broader scheme of socio-sexual activity.

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101
Themes and cultural significance
The term code and theme are synonymous. Codes are concepts in a relativist
cultural system that has ‘meaning’ to participants. The Atlas/ti dataset includes
TQCOUNT="51266" [total codes used with quotations marked]. A code doesn’t
represent a true or observed score in traditional quantitative analysis. To calculate mean
code use per interview or code use per 100 interviews would have neither cultural nor
statistical significance. Code prevalence provided no inference about cultural
significance. Why? Speech cannot be controlled in open-ended interviews. Language
can generate an infinite number of utterances. A prison speech community does not
represent a finite number of utterances. Therefore, “new” data—new ways to talk about
rape and explain it, are continuously generated. A prison speech community has infinite
creative expression. Terms, expressions, phrases cannot be controlled frequency. Codes
are not scores, do not have numeric value, and cannot be manipulated statistically since
they have no numeric value.
Themes
Cultural themes represent categories of prison culture knowledge. Noted below
are themes isolated in a national cross-section of interview discourse.19 These themes are
inmates’ facts, beliefs, opinions, and attitudes. This list was compiled by reading and rereading 564 interviews and tracking occurrences of similar ideas and variations among
similar ideas.20 While theme frequency by itself does not necessarily denote cultural
significance, theme frequency does help sort idiosyncratic occurrences from broadly
19

Our interview data will be accessible to the public. If one were to read 100 interviews focusing on
answers to the questions in the Rape Section, these themes would occur and recur repeatedly.
20
The model of code derives from linguistic analysis. The point here refers to, for instance, a verb
paradigm where variations are created on a base form. Rape would be a base form; types of rape are
variations.

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102
shared themes. If only 10 inmates said that, for instance, inmate debts never lead to
physical or sexual violence but 500 said otherwise an analyst would be inclined to stress
that latter over the former.
Substantive and Conceptual Themes
This analysis identified substantive and conceptual themes. These complement
and expand those reported in prison literature. Substantive themes refer directly or
indirectly to inmate behavior. Reading and rereading inmate interviews looking for
similarities and differences in answers to the same questions would eventually result in
the recurrence of themes. A list of substantive themes derived from these narratives
follows below.
Substantive themes
•

Most rapes occur at night in cells.

•

Inmates with debts may or may be raped for a refusal to repay debts.

•

White inmates generally know few inmates inside and are therefore vulnerable.

•

New inmates are vulnerable to rape.

•

Inmates convicted of sexual offenses against children may be raped.

•

Physically small inmates are more likely to be raped than large inmates.

•

Some inmates worry about rape while others don’t.

•

Consent to same-sex relations works as an adaptation to prison life for some inmates.

•

Strategies such as ‘riding’ with a gang, joining a religious group, hanging out with
experienced inmates, are types of social adaptation to prison life that provide safety
and social contact-friendships.

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103
Conceptual themes
This research generated highly abstract themes, such as inner homosexual. Such
highly abstract themes are interpretable within the context of prison culture. They
represent a short-hand for a complex set of cultural values and norms. Within the
category of conceptual themes some are simple, others are highly abstract.
Simple conceptual themes
•

Mentally weak inmates are raped more easily than mentally tough inmates.

•

Degree of toughness refers to an inmate’s decision to stand up and be a man and be
beaten up instead of raped.

•

White inmates cannot fight as well as black inmates.

•

White inmates are weak.

•

Inmates who were homosexuals in the community command more respect from
general population than weak inmates who are ‘turned out,’ engage in homosexual
acts out of fear.

•

Heterosexual women who had families in the community may pursue a homosexual
prison lifestyle as a personal choice, absent of sexual coercion.

•

New women inmates decide to get involved in the homosexual scene soon after
entering prison.

Abstract cultural themes
•

If a man believes he can be raped he’s already been raped.

•

A man cannot be raped unless he wants to be.

•

Men and women inmates may choose to remain outside the homosexual scene.

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104
In the analysis of the culture of prison rape substantive and conceptual themes are
integrated to form prison culture’s worldview of inmate sexual behavior. Future prison
culture studies may find these themes useful as a priori themes, or themes brought to the
analysis of data by researchers.
Validity
Ethnographic method doesn’t consider power, type I and type II error, or effect
size. Instead, measures of validity would be best achieved by asking interviewees
culturally relevant questions. An ethnographic analysis uses cultural data (that is, what
people know about a subject) and has internal validity if the analysis yields a description
that accurately captures a way of life in a community. Ethnographic validity limited to
interview data would be expressed through a consistency of cultural descriptions. Do
data from 30 research sites share lexical and cultural similarities? Or do the data show a
wide disparity in cultural variance? If single institution data show overlapping themes
there are grounds to argue for cultural internal validity. If multiple institutions’ themes
overlap there are grounds for external validity.
Clemmer’s theory of prison culture as a shared body of prison knowledge
included substantive and conceptual themes. The validity of a cultural study can be
tested by using it as a set of instructions for living inside prison. If new inmates knew
nothing about prison life, a cultural analysis should provide them with information to
allow him to behavior in culturally appropriate ways. A culturally valid analysis
represents a book of instructions on how to behavior like an inmate. The dynamic
process to acquire those instructions would be prisonization.

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105
CHAPTER 3. SOCIO-CULTURAL AND VERBAL DYNAMICS OF SEXUAL
VIOLENCE
“Man, rape! You see it everywhere, TV and movies, newspapers.”
Clemmer wrote that “culture may be defined as those artificial objects,
institutions, modes of life or thought which are not peculiarly individual, but which
characterize a group and have both special and temporal contiguity. . . . that complex
whole . . . includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other
capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.” Culture, wrote
Clemmer, was supra-individual: culture had the ability to transmit knowledge and rules
of behavior, attitudes, and beliefs maintaining homogeneity between generations.
Today’s inmates, according to Clemmer’s construct of culture, would share to a large
degree the culture of knowledge and rules of behavior of earlier generations of inmates.
Clemmer’s theory of supra-individual culture21 offers insight into how prison
scholarship may resolve interpretations of different findings on prison sexual violence.
Lockwood (1994) found homosexual rape was a "rare event." He noted that writers and
inmates "have been perpetuating certain ideas about prison sexual violence that are not
supported by systematic research on the topic.” He also disputed unsupported inferences
that sexual-assault victims are "low status" offenders, like child molesters (cf. Bowers,
1982). Tewksbury (1989) found that inmates repeatedly said they heard occasional
rumors about but didn’t witness sex violence. Nevertheless:

21

DiMaggio (1997) wrote: “Cognitive research confirms views of culture as fragmented . . . and
illuminates supra-individual aspects of culture. Individuals experience culture as disparate bits of
information and as schematic structures that organize that information” (DiMaggio, 1997, 263-287).

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106
Inmates reported rates of homosexual activity at or below general [societal]
population. The estimations of these [coerced sexual] activities in the institution
are much higher than self-reported incidence. About 7% report attempts at
coercion, but no one reported being raped. However, inmates estimated that 14%
or inmates had been sexually assaulted or raped while in prison (pp. 34-39).
Clemmer’s theory of cultural prisonization would account for ostensibly
contradictory findings, such as Lockwood (1994), Struckman-Johnson and StruckmanJohnson (2002) and Tewksbury (1989). Clemmer’s theory argues that prison culture has
both consistency in a core body of knowledge and consistency in variation of knowledge.
The dynamic of prisonization requires multiple modes of knowledge acquisition.
Watching, listening, and trial-and-error behavior are the basis of prisonization.
Prisonization by definition includes a range of knowledge. Thus, as inmates are
prisonized they acquire different perspectives. Inmates possess bits and pieces of the
total aggregate of knowledge of prison culture. Therefore, research data on sexual
violence gathered by interviewing inmates would, by definition, indicate variance in
inmates’ attitudes, beliefs, and opinions on prison life. Thus, variance and consensus are
expected in interview research data.
Clemmer’s supra-individual culture theory would argue that variance measured in
a cross-section of a prison population or many institutions would be repeated in a
consistent way over generations of inmates. Clemmer’s argument that culture has a
supra-individual nature accounts for the transmission of both a core body of and
variability within prison knowledge. Cultural agreement and variance are normalized and
constitute the body of knowledge known collectively as prison culture. Struckman-

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107
Johnson and Struckman-Johnson’s 2002 and Tewksbury’s 1989 data are an example of
this phenomenon: obtained at different times in prisons with different missions (women
vs. men) these researchers’ inmates estimated similar prevalence rates of prison rape.
Seventy-years of prison scholarship has shown consistent patterns of inmate
thought about prison sexual behavior, sexual violence, and the interpretation of these
complex topics. Terminology cited 50 to 60 years, such as wolves and punks, have
remained within inmate vernacular. Abstract concepts such as inmate ‘weakness’ and
‘strength,’ patterns of women’s pseudo-families, men inmates’ talk of daddies, boys, and
sons are the patterns of thought and speech symbolized by the term culture.
Prisonization creates a dynamic social-learning and speech acquisition model that
functions to transmit knowledge about prison life. Speech messages impute information
about the general context of prison and specific contexts of prison life. Lockwood’s
inmates reported no rape; Struckman-Johnson and Struckman-Johnson’s and
Tewksbury’s reported otherwise, but their findings are not contradictory as cultural
statements. Rather their findings and others like them should be anticipated and expected
when inmates’ knowledge of prison life was acquired outside and inside prison and over
different periods of time and circumstance within prison.
The implications of differential prisonization are significant. Qualitative and
quantitative analysis tease variance out of data but neither approach can explain the
origin of the variance without the concept of supra-individual culture. If inmates
consistently report both sexual violence and the lack of sexual violence how can analysts
account for both options in such a way that these findings are useful to public-policy
makers hoping to improve prison conditions? Clemmer’s theory would argue that

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108
ostensibly contradictory findings are indeed mutually compatible within, and the very
nature of, a system of prison cultural knowledge.
Differential Prisonization: Importation of Diversity of Prison Culture Knowledge
Inmate Socio-Demographics
Undoubtedly a reasonable assessment, every inmate knows something about sex.
Physical, emotional, and sexual characteristics of inmates brought into prison. The
importation of sexual preferences and the use of sexual behavior as an adaptation to
prison social life sexualizes prison culture. Inmates’ knowledge of prison rape and their
range of subjective interpretations of prison rape likely depend on their experience inside
and outside prison. Based on this premise, a managerial response to inmate sexuality
would be facilitated by interpretation of inmate demographics. A prison population may
shift its acceptability of sexual violence in a manner analogous to shifting correctional
officers’ attitudes toward inmates’ sexual behavior.
Clemmer’s theory of differential prisonization and its influences by preimprisonment behavior suggested a finite list of variables, which would provide a general
sense of sampled inmates’ socio-cultural and socio-sexual experiences. We assumed the
universality of prison culture, that is, prison culture has significant common features; that
inmates passed through prisonization processes in similar ways; and that inmates share a
language base of prison lexicon learned within the context of prison culture. A lexicon
refers to a dictionary and to an inventory of terminology unique to a specialized subject
or profession; argot refers to a dialect—criminal or inmate argot refers to vocabulary,
expressions, and speech styles definitive of criminals or inmates.

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109
Knowledge refers to the psychological or cognitive results of perceptions,
reasoning, and learning. Table 1 variables would influence inmates’ imported
knowledge and experience of sex, which would then influence prisonization issues, such
as housing and employment assignments and inmate classification. The content of
interview data would depend to some degree on measures of inmates’ sexual importation.
These measures include inmates’ sex, history and levels of violence, time spent in prison
on current sentence, number of periods of incarceration, and total life-time in prison.
However, it would be difficult to determine what inmates learned before and after periods
of imprisonment.
Table 1 measures conviction offense and prison history. Men inmates’ mean
time served on current sentence was 69.3 months for men and for women, 70.9 months.
Long years in prison culture likely suggest a high degree of consensus of categories of
knowledge of prison culture, especially physical and sexual violence as rape or coercive
or consensual sex. Clemmer’s theory of culture posits that prisonization would lead to a
relatively high degree of shared knowledge. The degree of shared knowledge would be
discernable in bivariate analysis.
Prison-experienced inmates may have, given limitations posited by Clemmer’s
theory of prisonization, exposure to prison rape and other types of sexual violence.
Several variables infer an adolescent derivation of a common basis of prison knowledge
among interviewed inmates. While 67.5 percent of men and 81.3 percent of women
inmates had no juvenile detention imprisonment, among those who did, the mean age at
incarceration for men was 13.6 and women was 14.2 years. Men served a mean time of

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110
17.2 months, while women served 12.6 months. By age of majority, 32.5 percent of men
and 28.7 percent of women of the interview sample were prison-experienced inmates.
The best interview data come from the most knowledgeable ‘natives’ in the
culture. Table 1 data show that 66.3 percent of men and 46.3 percent of women served
more than 60 months; 63.1 percent of men and 35.1 percent of women had already served
more than 120 months, or 10 plus years, at the time of their interview. Interviewing
inmates with more than 10 years in prison has a benefit of gaining a longitudinal sense of
what prison rape circumstances are like today vs. 10 plus years. Inmates with long
sentences comment on today’s prison management vs. prison management and prison
rape of 10 to 15 years ago. Inmates’ comments occur later in the report.
Table 1 Demographics and Offense Statistics
Total

Men

Women

Num

%

Num

%

Num

%

Violent

358

64.7

288

71.3

70

47.0

Non-Violent

107

19.3

69

17.1

38

25.5

88

15.9

47

11.6

41

27.5

157

43.7

121

42.0

36

50.7

Sex Offense

64

17.8

61

21.2

3

4.2

Robbery

82

22.8

67

23.3

15

21.1

Other

55

15.3

38

13.2

17

23.9

*Current Conviction

Drug
*Violent Offense by Type
Homicide

*

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111
Current Sentence in Months
1-60

180

31.9

110

21.7

70

47.3

66

11.7

40

9.9

26

17.6

121 – 300

103

18.3

82

20.2

21

14.2

301 or more

205

36.3

174

42.9

31

20.9

61-120

Months Served

69.30

75.30

53.22

Prior Incarcerations
0

302

53.5

205

50.1

97

62.6

1

131

23.2

103

25.2

28

18.1

2

65

11.5

49

12.0

16

10.3

3 or more

66

11.7

52

12.7

14

9.0

Total Months in State Prison

106.73

120.27

70.99

Ever in Federal Prison
No

551

97.7

397

97.1

154

99.4

Yes

13

2.3

12

2.9

1

0.6

Mean age at first incarceration

25.59

24.32

28.93

Juvenile Detention?
No

402

71.3

276

67.5

126

81.3

Yes

162

28.7

133

32.5

29

18.7

Mean age at first admission

13.74

13.64

14.21

Mean months incarcerated

16.46

17.28

12.69

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112
Number times disciplinary
segregation
0

276

49.6

183

45.4

93

60.4

1-4

168

30.2

132

32.8

36

23.4

5+

113

20.3

88

21.8

25

16.2

* p < .001
Table 2 data show a similar cross-gender racial composition of the sample. Data
show men’s mean age at incarceration was 24.3 years; women’s mean age was 28.9
years. Their average age at the time of interviews was 36.6 and 36.8 for men and
women, respectively. Sampled men and women inmates had many years in the
community to develop family lives and have a variety of sexual experiences. Preimprisonment sexual experiences receive more attention later in the report.
Table 2 Sampled Inmates' Marriage History and Pre-imprisonment Sexual Preferences
Total
Num

Men
%

Num

Women
%

Num

%

Race
Black

264

46.8

202

49.4

62

40.0

White

227

40.2

154

37.7

73

47.1

Hispanic

56

9.9

42

10.3

14

9.0

Other

17

3.0

11

2.7

6

1.1

Mean Age

36.69

36.64

36.8

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113

Sexual Preference
Straight

438

83.6

342

83.6

96

61.9

Gay

64

11.4

36

8.8

28

18.1

Bisexual

62

11.0

31

7.6

31

20.0

0

300

53.5

231

56.8

69

44.8

1

197

35.1

136

33.4

61

39.6

2

46

8.2

28

6.9

18

11.7

3+

18

3.3

12

2.2

6

3.8

No

471

83.5

344

84.1

127

81.9

Yes

93

16.5

65

15.9

28

18.1

No

4

4.3

4

6.2

0

0

Yes

89

95.7

61

93.8

28

100.0

# Marriages

Currently Married?

Married Prior to Incarceration?

Mean length of current marriage

138.23

129.24

157.97

Children
None

161

31.4

122

33.0

39

27.5

1

108

21.1

83

22.4

25

17.6

2

113

22.1

82

22.2

31

21.8

3+

130

25.4

83

22.4

47

33.1

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114
Table 2 shows data on current marriages and marriages prior to incarceration:
15.9 of men and 18.1 percent of women reported being married at the time of the
interview (are you currently married?), leaving 84.1 percent of men and 81.9 percent of
women unmarried at the time of the interview. One-hundred percent of women of
currently married women reported their marriage occurred before their imprisonment;
93.8 of men reported a pre-imprisonment marriage. This leaves 6.2 percent who were
married while imprisoned on their current sentence. Even though 63.1 percent of men
and 35.1 percent of women inmates had been imprisoned more than 10 years at the time
of the interview, their marriages were stable, if length of marriage measures marital
stability. Currently married men and women had been married on average for more than
10 years at the time of the interview. A study of married inmates’ in-prison lives was
well outside the scope of this research.
Verbal Exposure to Sexual Victimization
Clemmer’s theory posits that inmates are influenced by what they hear in different
contexts of prison life. Exposure to multiple types of personal experiences in prison
would give inmates similar experiences on some issues but different experiences on
others. Interview data would show variance on what, and how much inmates know. They
would also have different exposure to, and interpretations of verbal messages. As a
speech community prisons are widely diverse in speech topics and ways of speaking.
What’s more, information brought into prison about sexual violence may influence
inmates’ initial perception of the dangerousness of prison life. Even before inmates enter
prison they may possess knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes about prison sex and sexual

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115
violence. These may be opposite from or exaggerated forms of prison reality
(Lockwood, 1980).
Prison research findings suggested five data-collection dimensions. First, sources
of information about prison sexual violence come via direct observations or participation
as a perpetrator or victim should be sources of information distinguished from indirectly
acquired knowledge. Second, inmates’ perceptions of their environment would be
influenced by information they acquired via verbal messages. Third, if prison sexual
violence were a serious problem it would threaten inmates’ personal safety or at very
least causes them to worry. Fourth, images of prison rape appear in movies and are aired
on television. In a situation analogous to violence visual imagery influencing children,
inmates may be strongly influenced seeing egregious acts of sexual violence. Fifth, at the
extreme of hearing about sexual violence, inmates are likely to be exposed to inflated,
exaggerated, twisted, and obscured tales of sexual violence analogous to urban myths, or
a type of folklore, about, for instance, gang initiation. Such exposure may influence how
they perceive the prison environment and their perception of safety.
To measure these dimensions five questions were asked: 1) Do you know for
sure of a rape in this institution or any other prison you’ve been in? (2) If you haven’t
seen a rape firsthand, have you heard about an inmate being raped? (3) Are people
worried about rape? Is it a big threat? (4) Have you ever seen a rape, like in the movies?
(5) Is there rape folklore like stories about notorious rapists of long ago?
In brief these questions had five outcomes. These are cultural themes that appear
regularly in interview data and are corroborated by previous modern and historical
research. First, the percentage of inmates who report ‘for sure’ knowledge of rape falls

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116
below reports of hearing about prison rape (Tewksbury, 1989). Second, relatively high
levels of hearing about rape do not necessarily influence inmates’ perceptions of prison
safety. Third, verbal messages of prison rape are not reinforced by visual experiences
witnessing egregious prison rape. Fourth, despite verbal exposure to prison rape
incidents and rapists, inmates express little fear of or worry about prison rape. Fifth,
inmates recognize exaggerated tales of prison rape and rapists distinguishing them from
more realistic verbal messages; the exaggerated tales have no necessary influence on
inmates’ perceptions of prison safety.
“For-sure” knowledge of prison rape
Table 3 and Table 4 analysis shows women inmates report a lower level of forsure knowledge of prison rape than men. However, the women’s reports of for-sure rape
decline over time served, especially after 10 years. However, men’s agreement on forsure rape increases to 29.7 from 12.3 percent and to 34.8 from 12.6 percent after 5 and 10
years served, respectively. Tewksbury (1989) reported 14 percent of inmates had been
sexually assaulted or raped while in prison” (pp. 34-39). Men and women inmates who
served less than 5and 10 years report high levels of no for-sure rape.

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117
Table 3 Inmates’ Perceptions of For-Sure Knowledge of Prison Rape by Gender and
Time Served-5yrs.
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

132

95.0

90

96.8

42

91.3

7

5.0

3

3.2

4

2.9

No

290

78.0

143

87.7

147

70.3

Yes

82

22.0

20

12.3

62

29.7

Yes
*Men

*p<.001

Table 4 Inmates’ Perceptions of For-Sure Knowledge of Prison Rape by Gender and
Time Served-10yrs.
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years

%

Num

%

Women
No

132

95.0

103

96.3

29

90.6

7

5.0

4

3.7

3

9.4

No

290

78.0

187

87.4

103

65.2

Yes

82

22.0

27

12.6

55

34.8

Yes
*Men

*p<.001

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118
Inmate comments:
“I’m not aware that any [rape] of it’s going on. I hear stories that they caught so
and so spooning in a bed or in the showers. I’ve never witnessed this going on.
The worst I’ve ever had was a guy in the bunk above me masturbating in the
middle on the night. I’ve heard about yada yada, being caught bent over a table
while somebody else is butt-fucking them. I’ve only got my two eyes and ears to
do all this. Narrow range in who you come into contact with. See black guys who
wear their hair in curls, Kool-Aid lipstick, we chide them, but we don’t approve of
it. He’s going to chide them a little bit; he’s got his own stupid issues, like holy
crap. Every once in awhile I joke, “I wish I was gay; I’m in a men’s prison, what
better place to be gay,” but no thank you.”

“I believe she lied to her other girlfriend [about being raped]. When she got
caught [cheating] she decided that it was rape. It is really hard to test to decide if
they were raped.”
“Heard about” prison rape
Table 13 and Table 6 shows men and women inmates report significantly higher
levels of hearing about rape than knowing for-sure about rape. Hearing about rape over
time among women inmates does not increase at a significantly high rate. The
percentage of men who hear about rape with less than five years more than doubles when
men have served more than five years to 70.4 from 29.6 percent. Men inmates who have
served less than 10 years and women who have served less than five years have heard
about rape at a similar level even though both reported low levels of for-sure rape. For-

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119
sure knowledge of rape and hearing about rape, controlling for gender and time served,
show that inmates are exposed to a high level of verbal versus visual messages about
prison rape. Such a high level of verbal exposure in the context of a low level of visual
exposure seems consistent with Clemmer’s theory of supra-individual culture and cultural
transmission of prison rape knowledge, independent of first-hand exposure to prison rape.
Saum, et. al.’s 1995 finding that 59.9 percent of men inmates felt attempted rapes may
occur at least once a month seem influenced more by what inmates heard than by firsthand observation.
Table 5 Inmates’ Perceptions of Hearing about Prison Rape by Gender and Time Served5yrs.
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

83

60.1

58

63.0

25

54.3

Yes

55

39.9

34

37.0

21

45.7

No

150

42.1

91

59.9

59

28.9

Yes

206

57.9

61

40.1

145

71.1

*Men

*p<.001

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120

Table 6 Inmates’ Perceptions of Hearing about Prison Rape by Gender and Time Served10yrs.
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years
%

Num

%

Women
No

131

91.0

99

88.4

32

100.0

Yes

13

9.0

13

11.6

0

0.0

No

295

78.7

174

54.7

121

25.8

Yes

80

21.3

42

45.3

38

74.2

*Men

*p<.001

Inmates commented:
“[Rape] probably happens, but I haven’t heard of any.”

“It was like three Mexicans, it was in a unit, they ran in on some young White kid,
and that’s just what I heard. It happened seven years ago. They ran into the cell.
It was like two years later that I heard about it through another individual.”
“Yeah, many times, they raped this dude, 10 or 15 of them raped him, he was
messed up, his insides were messed up, they shoved bottles up there, I heard that
many times.”
Threats of and worry about prison rape
Table 7 and

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121

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122
Table 8 show inmates’ estimate of the level of threat and worry engendered by
sexual violence. Even though 39.9 and 57.9 percent of women and men inmates,
respectively, have heard about rape, inmates report low levels of feeling threatened by
and worried about rape. The level of for-sure knowledge of prison rape for men, 22.0
percent, closely approximates their level of threat and worry over more than five and 10
years.
Table 7 Inmates’ Perceptions of Threats and Worry about Prison Rape by Gender and
Time Served-5yrs
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

131

91.0

88

89.8

43

93.5

Yes

13

9.0

10

10.2

3

6.5

No

295

78.7

130

79.8

165

77.8

Yes

80

21.3

33

20.2

47

22.2

Men

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

123
Table 8 Inmates’ Perceptions of Threats and Worry about Prison Rape by Gender and
Time Served-10yrs
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years

%

Num

%

Women
No

131

91.0

99

88.4

32

100.0

Yes

13

9.0

13

11.6

0

0.0

No

295

78.7

174

80.6

121

76.1

Yes

80

21.3

42

19.4

38

23.9

Men

Inmates commented:
“Worry about rape, if you're weak, yeah. But if you're not that weak and can pay
attention to your surroundings it's not that bad. We're mainly worried about
people cutting each other up, not rape.”

“No, because it doesn’t happen much or if it does it’s with lovers.”

“From what I am seeing it has changed a lot you get free world time and charges.
There are some units where I am sure it happens everyday. This unit is not bad.”

“Until you’ve done maybe two or three months maybe. The younger generation is
worried, with all the rap and gangsta movies, they watch; all they see are
criminology and gangsta movies on TV, they’re dumb-asses, they get here and for

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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124
the first six months, you come through [UNIT NAME] and you’re in an enclosed
atmosphere, there’s a guard on your ass the whole time, it is impossible for
something to happen. Then all of a sudden you’re in a unit, now you start to
worry.”
Exposure to Media-like Portrayals of Prison Rape
“Movie gang rapes don't happen in here. They are pretty strict about checking the
showers & things, I can't say it has never happened, but I’ve never heard of it and
inmate gossip goes really fast.”
This question tried to remove ambiguity from inmates’ perceptions of what may
or may not be considered rape by comparing a prison rape to sensationalized media-like
images of prison rape. Table 99 and Table 10 show that women inmates, independent of
time served, reported few if any cases of media-like rape. Men inmates with less than
five year served perceived similar level of media-like rape cases. As time served
increases, so does inmates’ perception of sensationalized rape.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

125
Table 9 Inmates’ Perceptions of Media-like Portrayals of Prison Rape by Gender and
Time Served-5yrs.
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

140

98.6

95

99.0

45

97.8

2

1.4

1

1.0

1

2.2

No

332

88.1

156

94.0

176

83.4

Yes

45

11.9

10

6.0

35

16.6

Yes
*Men

*p < .001

Table 10 Inmates’ Perceptions of Media-like Portrayals of Prison Rape by Gender and
Time Served-10yrs.
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years

%

Num

%

Women
No

140

98.6

109

99.1

31

96.9

2

1.4

1

0.9

1

3.1

No

332

88.1

208

94.1

124

79.5

Yes

45

11.9

13

5.9

32

20.5

Yes
*Men

*p < .001

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

126
Inmates commented:
“I heard about it, caught a dude in the shower, in old [OTHER PRISON], the
carwash, ain't no lights in the shower in old [OTHER PRISON], I done heard too
many stories, one dude walk up in there the first day goes all the way in the back
and fifteen dudes come in and rape him and stuff.”

“Not in sixteen years.”

“[I] never witnessed a rape. I’ve talked to people after they were raped. Have a
friend who was gay so not really rape, they put a broomstick up in him cause he
owed them money or something. I have another friend who was raped by her own
boyfriend and now she’s saying she’s not gay anymore. She wanted to break up
but he didn’t want to so she stopped having sex. They opened all the doors for
chow and he walked down the run and pushed her in the cell and they had sex but
she didn’t want to have sex, but she cried to us about it. She can’t write home, the
family don’t care.”

“No—no sticking knife in bootie or cut open a bootie like American Me.”
Urban mythology
Urban myths are a type of modern folklore. These myths may be grounded in
distant reality or truly fictional. They are distorted, twisted, and exaggerated, and told as
if they were true. Boxing Betty and Brutus (see below) may well have their origin on
prison compounds of 10, 20 or 50 years ago, but nevertheless the cultural messages these

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

127
tales carry ring true for today’s inmates. Fleisher’s 1989 study of maximum-security
penitentiary discussed the social functions of inmate and staff urban myths. Topics were
behaviors of penitentiary life, such as homicide and severe physical assaults. But the
tales themselves were judged by staff and inmates as fantastical but fun stories to share.
Table 11 shows that women and men inmates reported hearing prison rape urban
myths (folklore). Women and men who served less than five years reported hearing tales,
34.5 and 56.1 percent, respectively. Women who served more than 10 years jumped to
56.4 percent, and men to 67.7 percent.
Table 11 Exposure to Prison Rape Urban Myths by Gender and Time Served, 5yrs.
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

72

58.5

55

65.5

17

43.6

Yes

51

41.5

29

34.5

22

56.4

No

131

37.4

68

43.9

63

32.3

Yes

219

62.6

87

56.1

132

67.7

Men

Table 12 shows that exposure to rape folklore among men inmates who served
more than 10 years jumped to 71.5 percent while percentages for other inmates remained
relatively constant compared to less and more than five-year sentences.
Clemmer’s theory of supra-individual culture would argue that prison rape
folklore influences the perception and categorization of violent acts. Inmates’
categorization of violent sex acts as consensual or coercive or rape may be determined by

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

128
verbal analogies. Characteristics definitive of consensual vs. coercive vs. rape may be
learned in sex stories. A greater exposure to sex lore may lead to greater discrimination
among such sex acts. If, for example, inmates hear a preponderance of sex folklore that
defines violent sex as rape, they may perceive more violent sex as rape. This theoretical
perspective falls in line with, albeit the mirror image of, Alarid’s 2000 finding that
sexually abused women inmates, because of their visual and verbal experiences, redefine
sexual violence and may not perceive violent sex acts as rape.
Table 12 Exposure to Prison Rape Folklore Urban Myths by Gender and Time Served,
10yrs.
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years
%

Num

%

Women
No

72

58.5

59

62.1

13

46.4

Yes

51

41.5

36

37.9

15

53.6

No

131

37.4

90

43.7

41

28.5

Yes

219

62.6

116

56.3

103

71.5

Men

Narratives illustrate a thematically rich men inmate’s verbal history about prison
rape. Men’s folklore has a broad geographic focus and seems more culturally significant
than in women’s prisons. In men’s prisons cultural figures such as Boxing Betty, Purple
Passion, Lick’em Lenny, and Brutus, are identified either by name or activity across the
country. These are not reported or interpreted as scary, foreboding characters. Rather

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

129
they are tales men laugh about. Women’s prison culture has no sexually violent
stereotypical, named characters analogous to men’s characters. Unlike men’s humorous
reports of the antics of folkloric characters, women don’t laugh and joke about sexual
violence.
Boxing Betty appears across the United States. Below are excerpts about Boxing
Betty and Lick’em Lenny and Brutus.
“Boxing Betty was a regular old dude, four dudes raped him in the shower
at old [OTHER STATE PRISON] before they tore it down so he worked
out and started lifting weights and came back five years later and raped
and beat them up every single one of them, he got his get back, I was nine
when this happened. He's gay now, but he made them suck his dick; he's
considered a legend, he's a cool person you would never know.”
Other versions of rape lore combine physical strength, fighting ability, and
homosexuality. Folklore figures exemplify this combination of traits and illustrate the
strength of homosexuals.
“Got a big old dude down there who called Fort Knox, got real old been
on state 28 or 29 years, real big dude, was a professional weightlifter or
something, the thing is, he the girl, he’ll beat somebody up that he might
like and while you laying there knocked out he going to get what he want.
He’s pressing 300lbs but he like to suck your dick. If you don’t let him, he
knock you out and suck you. You wake up and your pants on down around
your knees and you got a big old knot on your head.”

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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130
“We used to have this one legend that this guy called Boxing Betty, a
homo well-known. He used to box when they had the boxing program. He
liked taking it both ways, and if he seen someone he liked that he wanted
sex with, he’d beat them up and force them to fuck him in the ass.”

“There’s this guy named Brutus; he’s a really big guy supposed to be gay.
He walked around with a weight belt on and told people “hey, you let me
suck you off or I’m going to knock you out, and then he’d do it.” I met
Bruce in 1990. He was a big guy.”

“There’s this guy they call Lick‘em Lenny; he’s what they call a goop
gobbler. He’ll knock them out and then take them [have sex with them]. I
don’t know the guy’s name, that’s his nickname, but apparently he’s a
known homosexual who likes young boys and will suck dick on these
young guys. He’s some weirdo; he pays for cups of semen and will drink
them.”
Women’s sexual abuse experience may in part account for women’s prisons
paucity of sexually violent folkloric characters. However, there are recurrent tales of
sexual assault. A rapist who assaulted victims with a hot curling iron was commonly
cited; however, women who told the tale could not identify either the rape victim or rapist
or where and when it occurred. The assault may have been grounded in reality but was
reported, as urban myths are, as a “did you hear about” or a “friend of a friend” tale.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

131
More than 50 percent of men inmates had been exposed to folklore about sexual
violence, regardless of time served. Exposure to sexual folklore remains constant for
men under 10 years but jumps to over 70 percent for men with more than 10 years. We
cannot tease apart inmates’ exposure to prison rape via different channels of rape
message communication. Nevertheless first-hand exposure to prison rape occurs far less
often than exposure to symbolic messages.
Prisonization: Verbal Lessons of Socialization
Rape reports that may or may not have actually happened and stories about
characters most inmates know are fictitious create subjective imagery inmates express via
gossip, conversations, jokes, lore, secrets, and so on. Clemmer’s theory of culture argues
that verbal messages are the dominant form of socialization to prison life. These verbal
messages carry information on practical issues and complex social dynamics. Verbal
messages pass between generations. When they are, culture’s supra-individual quality
passes cultural information between generations. Messages about prison rape that
actually occurred and stories like those described above, pass between generations of
inmates. Eventually, acts of rape and urban myths about rape are not easily distinguished
as speakers’ twist and exaggerate tales with each telling.
Inmates have heard stories about rape and rapists. However, few have baseline,
firsthand knowledge of rape as a witness or victim or rapist or companion of a rape
victim. Given inmates’ wide range of experiences inside prison some stories are more
realistic than others. Without certain knowledge of an actual rape, a safe strategy would
be to believe these stories until proven otherwise.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

132
No matter if rape messages are believed or are descriptions of actual events,
verbal accounts of prison violence and prison rape convey lessons about prison culture
and social life. Lessons are conveyed via prisonization. Verbal messages are the singlemost important dynamic in the transmission of cultural knowledge inside and outside
prison. Prison rape messages impart motivations for violence and nuances in the
meaning of prison behavior. From a broader social science perspective actual inmate
behavior and sexual behavior options captured by verbal messages indicate adaptive
strategies available to men and women in a restricted environment. Verbal messages
with sexual content convey a practical lesson: men and women inmates need not stop
sexual relations, but rather sexual relations should fit the culture and context of the
environment.
Prisonization via verbal messages about sexual behavior and sexual violence are
clearly recognized by inmates. These messages convey to inmates simple but critical
lessons about prison sex and social life. Learn how to behave, but learn quickly. Don’t
get too comfortable with people; they could be deceptive and cunning and want to exploit
you. Avoid behaviors that won’t be tolerated, such as debts and theft. Protect yourself
physically and mentally. Stay strong. Handle your own battles. Be confident and
decisive. Finally, sexual temptation increases with time; if you try it, you might enjoy it.
Differential Prisonization: Integration of Verbal Sources of Knowledge
Clemmer’s theory posits that cultural construction of sexual characters and sexual
behavior are learned and reinforced by verbal messages. Figure 1 illustrates a
relationship between men inmates’ exposure to three types of verbal messages about rape
and their level of worry about or fear of rape. Data show that among men who have

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

133
served less than five years, 56.1 percent reported hearing rape stories and 40.1 percent
reported hearing of a rape. However, 12.3 percent reported knowing a rape occurred ‘for
sure.’ Their level of reported worry or fear about rape was 20.2 percent. Among men
who served more than five years, their reported level of hearing rape stories and hearing
of a rape jumped to 67.7 and 71.1 percent, respectively. Their knowledge of a for-sure
rape increased to 29.7 percent, but their level of fear and worry increased to 22.2 percent.
Figure 1 Men Inmates’ Exposure to Verbal Messages about Prison Rape
80

71.1

70

67.7
60

56.1

Percentage

50

40.1
40

29.7

30

20.2
20

22.2
12.3

10

0

Worry/Fear Rape

Knowledge of For-Sure
Rape

Heard Rape Stories

5 or Less

Heard of a Rape

More than 5

igure 2 illustrates a relationship between women inmates’ exposure to three types
of verbal rape messages. Data show that among women who have served less than five
years, 34.5 percent reported hearing rape stories and 37.0 percent reported hearing of a
rape. However, 3.2 percent reported knowing a rape occurred ‘for sure’ with a level of
worry or fear at 10.2 percent. Among women who served more than five years, their
reported level of hearing rape stories and hearing of a rape increased to 56.4 and 45.7

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

134
percent, respectively. Women’s knowledge of a for-sure rape was 2.9 percent and their
level or worry and fear dropped to 6.5 percent.
Figure 2 Women Inmates’ Exposure to Verbal Messages about Prison Rape

60

56.4
50

45.7
40

37

Percentage

34.5
30

20

10.2
10

6.5

2.9
3.2

0

Worry/Fear Rape

Knowledge of For-Sure
Rape
5 or Less

Heard Rape Stories

Heard of a Rape

More than 5

Cultural Construction of Sexual Assailants
The cultural dialogue of prison sexual aggression across the country included a
variety of players on the sex scene. Some were vulnerable, the punks, sissies, and girls;
some violence, the rapists and bootie bandits; others con men, the turn-out artists.
Rapists, bootie bandits, and turn-out artists are discernable social categories. Their
ubiquitous cultural nature does not necessarily denote their actual existence on prison
compounds nor does it imply that sexual assault occurs on compounds where inmates
recognize these figures.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

135
Rapist
Regularly reported over many decades in prison research literature was the belief
that prison inmates despised street rapists and child molesters. The cultural interpretation
of prison rape, a prison rapist, and a prison rape victim have broad cultural connotations.
Always, inmates said they abhor rape and rapists. Rapists are negatively stigmatized and
may be targets of violent or non-violent aggression. A rapist or rough turn-out artist may
move into a dorm. If he then pressures inmates, inmates said, he’ll find himself with a
choice: find another residence unit or deal with the violent consequences. There are no
narrative examples of a rapist being killed as a result of committing rape. However,
inmates reported the cultural feasibility of killing a rapist who refuses to abide inmates’
informal social rules. Table 13 and Table 14 show that women inmates rarely report
knowledge of rapist killed as the result of sexual assault. Men inmates who served more
than 5 and 10 years, 22.9 and 25.3 percent, respectively, reported knowing a rapist who
was killed.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

136
Table 13 Inmates’ Reports of Knowing a Rapist Killed in Prison-5yrs.
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

*Women
No

114

98.3

78

98.7

36

97.3

2

1.7

1

1.3

1

2.7

No

305

83.3

147

91.3

158

77.1

Yes

61

16.7

14

8.7

47

22.9

Yes
*Men

*p < .001
Table 14 Inmates’ Reports of Knowing a Rapist who was Killed in Prison-10yrs
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years
%

Num

%

Women
No

114

98.3

90

98.9

24

96.0

2

1.7

1

1.1

1

4.0

No

305

83.3

190

89.6

115

74.7

Yes

61

16.7

22

10.4

39

25.3

Yes
*Men

*p < .001
Inmate culture conceives of rapists as weaklings and cowards. Their weakness
expresses itself even in their inability to have sexual affairs absent of a surprise violent

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

137
attack. Rapists are repellent; they cannot find willing sexual partners.22 Alone, without
companions, they fall to the margin of inmate society. In inmate parlance, rapists “work
outside the program.”
Social marginality, if for no other reason, casts suspicion on rapists and makes
them potentially dangerous. First, no one knows them, and this in itself makes
mainstream inmates suspicious. Second, if they are unknown, mainstream inmates don’t
know what they do, who they may plot against, who they may snitch on. However,
marginality diminishes their protective affiliations with individual inmates and inmate
groups. If, marginal inmates—rapists and others, have companions, they are likely to be
other marginal inmates. Rapists have few if any affiliations. If they have social ties,
they are linked to other marginal inmates. Thus, rapists found themselves in a network of
marginal and weak inmates. As a consequence, narratives noted, rapists do not have
allies who will help protect them. Well-connected, mainstream inmates won’t risk their
reputation and their affiliations with their allies to support marginal inmates. Without
allies, rapists are open to violent retaliation by victims and their affiliation. By sociocultural definition rapists are weak and cannot retaliate if they are assaulted.
A rapist may try to create a strong social image. Men may hang out with a known
rapist, and even back him up if there’s an assault, but such behavior are attempts to curry
his favor out of fear. Hangers-on ‘run a game.’ They stay close to a dangerous man,
hoping he doesn’t rape them. However, social proximity won’t prevent rape or physical
assault on a hanger-on. Rapists cannot be trusted. Inmates say sexual predators cannot
be picked out of a crowd.
22

While inmates’ narratives characterize rapists as socially marginal and therefore ‘weak,’ there are no
studies on the social network structure of inmate society that demonstrate rapists are socially marginal,
have few companions, and have no or few social ties to mainstream inmates.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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138
Rapists on the compound are well known. They don’t have safe zones. They
can’t ask other inmates for protection; no one will come forward to protect them. And
they can be victims of a violent retaliation. Rapists don’t retaliate if they were assaulted.
Victims are expected to “do to them what they did to you and more if you can.” A
rapist’s smartest move would be to ‘check’ into protective custody.
“It is like a circle, get him [rapist] out of the circle. Nobody wants them
[rapists] in the group. They are pushed away.”

“It depends on the seriousness of the rape, it would probably be a beating,
maybe in close joint dude might get stabbed or beat up to the point where
he has to go to the hospital, maybe in the close joint he would get a lock to
the head.”

“Street rapists and chomos are pieces of shit, in everybody eyes. Rapist is
no better than a rapo outside.”23

“Cowards, he gots to get up outta here, person gets caught, it gets around
the yard, he gots to go or he’s going to get killed.”

“An inmate who raped this one inmate turned around and waited until the
dude was on the weight pile lifting and picked up a pillowcase with a
23

Chomo and rapo refers to a child molester and rapist, respectively.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

139
weight and took part of his head off. Blood shot everywhere, he was dead
after the first blow, he [the offender] was crying and shit and then told
everybody. That was ok, he was wrong [the victim] he shouldn’t have did
what he did.

“A guy was trying to take a young man’s butt; he thought he was going to
get it and that was it. Young man retaliated and one day when rapist was
watching TV, victim chopped his head off. Back in those days we had
metal trays, pitcher and cups. Metal tray was pressed metal, no lip. Hit
dude a few times and his head rolled. 1987. It happened when I was there
in the day room, [UNIT NAME]. “

“Yes, guy hit him in the back of the head with a 10 pound weight. The guy
that got raped killed the guy who raped him.”
Inmate culture allows a wide berth of sexual freedom; however, rape seems on the
margin of what otherwise would be culturally permissible sexual behavior, even of
extreme types. Prison culture sees rape as a pointless act of violence and irrational given
the opportunities male inmates have to engage in sex with men or women staff, and
women inmates have to engage in sex with women and male staff. A rapist has no
power, no respect, and no influence. In the end, rapists lose respect and
companionship—no one wants to be associated with a weak-minded coward.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

140
Turn-out artist
A turn-out artist has smooth social and talking skill and coaxes, often in a matter
of days, his prey into a sexually compromising situation; a new inmates who accepts a
chocolate bar or stamps or joins a friendly card game has enjoined a debt that must be
repaid. A rough turnout artist whose harsh coercion and threats are obviously on public
display distinguished from rapists and bootie bandits. A rough turn-out artist escapes a
rapist label if he’s well liked and doesn’t bully or stalk his victims and doesn’t show
physical or mental signs of weakness. A turn-out artist qua rapist freely moves about
general population; he has companions and doesn’t avoid social interactions. Although
known as a turn-out artist, his behavior carries no negative stigma.
Table 15 and Table 16 show inmates’ perceptions on whether a rape and a turnout are similar sexual acts. Men’s and women’s perceptions are consistent within gender
but quantitatively different across gender. A much higher percent of men perceive rape
and turn-out to be similar acts over time, 39.8 and 45.0 percent, respectively, compared to
women, 16.1 and 22.2 percent, respectively.
Table 15 Inmates’ Perceptions of Turn-out vs. Rape by Gender and Time Served, 5yrs.
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

113

81.9

78

83.9

35

77.8

Yes

25

18.1

15

16.1

10

22.2

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

141
Men
No

207

57.3

97

60.2

110

55.0

Yes

154

42.7

64

39.8

90

45.0

Table 16 Inmates’ Perceptions of Turn-out vs. Rape by Gender and Time Served, 5yrs.
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years

%

Num

%

Women
No

113

81.9

88

83.0

25

78.1

Yes

25

18.1

18

17.0

7

21.9

No

207

57.3

135

63.7

72

48.3

Yes

154

42.7

77

36.3

77

51.7

Men

Inmate comments:
“Probably because they tried to turn out and the person wouldn’t convert
so they got fed up with trying and they just took it.”

“Ok, see I’m going to break it down to you. Turning out is when a person
gonna come in and if you want to have it, you do it by choice, rape is when
a person don’t want to get turned out and a dude forces himself on him, if
you won’t give it voluntarily I’m going to take it, to rape it.

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142

“No, raping is force, turning out is where you kind of like use charisma to
get them to like you and then they start liking you and when they do you
turn them out.”
“Yes, it’s the same. ‘Cause they still taking advantage of you.”
“Can be; just depends on what that persons objective is with the rape. If
the goal is to have the person want to have sex, if that’s the objective then
it’s the same.”

“Yes. One used finesse, another can use strength but the result is the
same.”
Prison worldview finds that all turnouts aren’t rape. However, someone raped can
become a turnout. Skilled turnout artists are not rapists, inmates said. Turnout artists do
not carry a rapist’s negative stigma. A rapist and a bootie bandit ‘steal’ sex but a turn-out
artist initiates an exchange situation. Inmates said “fair exchange is no robbery” and
“commissary is necessary.” These comments convey the meaning that an exchange of sex
for property or protection can be a fair transaction.
Rapist vs. bootie bandit
A socially determined distinction between a rapist and a turn-out artist becomes
clearer in the comparison of a rapist and a bootie bandit. Old-school inmates, those who
have served decades inside prison, distinguish bootie bandits from rapists. They said
rapists stalk their prey and do not fight for sex if a victim resists. This point supports

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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143
prison rape worldview’s assertion that a man cannot be raped unless he wants to be (see
Nacci & Kane, 1982, p. 16) and that a man doesn’t have sex unless he wants to.
Confronting force, inmates said rapists merely move on until they find a less resistant
target. By contrast, a bootie bandit thrives on resistance to his sexual advances and does
not back off if victims fight back. However, a bootie bandit sees the interaction as a
game. He has polished skills in “talking people out of it.” A bootie bandit doesn’t fear
apprehension or exposure to a general population.
Old-school inmates distinguished a rapist from a bootie bandit, but younger
inmates may use the terms synonymously. Old- school inmates characterize rapists as
dark, foreboding, and violent characters; however, a bootie bandit, by contrast, displays a
cavalier attitude. Even though a rapist and a bootie bandit may have committed similarly
violent sexual assaults, the behavior of a bootie bandit was interpreted by old schools as
comedic, a sexual clown figure of prison culture. Old schools said bootie bandits “hop”
from one boy to another, finding sexual pleasure often. Although narrative data are
ambiguous on this point, a bootie bandit seems to have traits of both an aggressive turnout artists and a rapist. This combination of traits makes a bootie bandit a significant
cultural figure.
Stories about bootie bandits do not necessarily mean they existed as real-life
people. They are, however, embodiments of cultural traits. They are figures in the dark
shadows of prison culture. While old-school inmates distinguish rapists from bootie
bandits, the bootie bandit seems to better fit a colloquial vision of the prison rapist.
Inmates reported that rapists avoid confrontation and find easy targets. Stripping away a
bootie bandits’ preference toward sexual violence leaves the bandit with personal traits

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144
desired by street hustlers: verbally adept; socially clever; friendly; manipulative; and
always on the prowl for profitable hustle.24
Prison Culture’s Sexual Worldview
A Cautionary Note to Readers
Prison culture’s sexual worldview conceptualizes homosexuality, sexual affairs,
and sexual violence as a symbolically complex interplay of unconscious forces emerging
in a social reality. Prison worldview uses symbols of sexual violence contrary to and
radically different from concepts of sexual violence in free society. Prison culture’s
worldview assumptions are predicated on physical and mental weakness, a “blame the
victim” sexual victimization philosophy, and antipathy toward victims’ pain and
suffering. Paradoxically, however, as noted above, prison culture worldview also abhors
prison rapists and prison rape.
This section summarizes cultural themes induced from inmates’ narratives on the
causes and conditions of sexual violence. Cultural themes are not inmates’ justifications
and rationalizations for sexual violence. Thus far, analyzed data as well as the history of
prison culture and sex research have shown sexual violence to be an infrequent
occurrence. Nevertheless, prison culture has evolved an elaborate constellation of
cultural sex symbols and cultural sex dynamics. The complexity of prison culture’s
characterization of sexual violence should not be taken as indicative of inmate apathy
toward sexual violence nor abnormally high levels of rape as suggested, for instance, by
Davis’s 1968 study of the Philadelphia jail system. The literature review showed that in

24

One of the former inmates who assisted in the conceptualization of this project called himself a bootie
bandit but didn’t refer to himself as a rapist. Now in this 60s he had been imprisoned six times since his
adolescence. Released from prison the final time in 1993, he claimed bootie bandits didn’t exist in today’s
prisons.

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145
more than 60 years of prison culture studies Davis’s study was the only one to posit
egregious levels of prison sexual violence.
Culture of Prison Homosexuality and Sexual Violence
Inmates’ narratives about prison rape and prison rapists are imbued with
culturally symbolic interpretations of homosexual behavior. Pathways that drew men and
women into same-sex behavior are complex as well. Prison culture has a broad culturally
defined social category known as homosexual, but all inmates who engage in same-sex
behavior are not culturally defined homosexuals. Prison culture refines the category
homosexual into specific social roles known as homosexuals, gays, and queens. A male
inmate homosexual expresses a sexual preference but does not necessarily exhibit
‘female’ tendencies. Homosexual behavior focuses on sex acts. A gay has ‘female’
tendencies. Gays prefer same-sex relations and express publicly symbolic indications of
homosexuality, such as arched eyebrows and a ‘gay’ walk. Queens (also known as allout queens) are “women” and homosexuals, but all homosexuals are not queens.
Straights aren’t involved in the public sex scene but may nevertheless engage in same-sex
behavior on the down low, trying to conceal their behavior from public view. Figure 3
describes inmates’ distinctions among sexual roles.

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146
Figure 3 Inmates’ Distinctions among Six Socio-Sexual Roles

H om osexual

“if a guy comes to the joint and he’s a
homosexual on the street I’m more inclined
to accept and respect what he is. If a man
comes to the penitentiary and he’s turned
out I’ll treat him differently. Just the
level of respect or acceptance he has or
will get.”

“Strong mother fucker; strongest man on
the planet, almost impossible;
impossible not to think, I know guys who
try to do masturbation, you become a
really freaky dude with books and TV
screens [example: Oprah Winfrey fetish]”

“That's my man, husband, pimp;
homosexuals prefer a straight man to be
their man. There’s a difference between
a gay male and a heterosexual who messes
with a homosexual, a heterosexual likes
the female aspect, no flip flopping.
Homosexuals want the strength and
security of a heterosexual, not a gay
man”

“You can keep it quiet for only so long,
eventually guys will know, I know a couple
guys who's undercover I just don’t say
nothing, I respect their privacy, it's not
my business.”

D ow n Low

“He’d be treated as a pressure punk,
everyone would know he’s been turned out,
wouldn’t be treated with the same acceptance
as someone who came to the penitentiary as a
homosexual. We wouldn’t piss on him if he
was on fire. It’s respect to a degree, but
it’s more of an acceptance, not a respect.
Guys would treat them a little different, I
wouldn’t have that animosity towards them if
they were a homosexual on the street”

“We still like females and that’s all we
interested in They are respected and
strong if they don’t have sex”

A c t iv e

Punk

“The girls [queens], we have more of the
power. We’re the chosen ones, whether
you like it or not or want it or not.
You all think I’m the bad person, I’m
not; no men run me or tell me what to
do. I control these guys. Officers
know that I’m not a trouble maker.”

‘T r u e ’ S t r a ig h t

Q ueen

Prison Socio-Sexual Roles

Krienert, J. L., & Fleisher, M. S. (2005). The Social Process of Sexual Victimization in Male Prisons. Paper presented at the American
Society of Criminology, Toronto. Do not cite, quote or reproduce without written consent of authors.

Prison worldview has a culturally unique rationale to account for same-sex
behavior and for sexual assault and its interpretation. To grasp a prison worldview on

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147
homosexuality requires stepping outside of a conventional, free society mode of
interpretation of homosexual behavior and inside a culturally relativistic form of
explanation.
Inmates’ Subjective Perception of Prison Sexuality
Inner Homosexual

“It’s [homosexuality] something in that individual. I don’t take the credit for that.
They are probably not facing whatever’s inside of them. I believe there is
something over time that wears away that already exists. You have something in
you. Eventually, if you never got locked up, you would have experimented.”
“Eventually they’ll let themselves come out of the closet. They try to hide it to
prevent others from knowing what they really are instead of coming out with it
from the beginning. They hide it and it makes it look badder on the person when
they do find out. They’d be more respected if they just let others know.”
This study provides an objective analysis of inmates’ subjective perception of
social and sexual life. Subjective perceptions are part and parcel of inmate interview
narratives. An analysis of sex-related narratives led to abstract and often intuitively
peculiar findings. The concept of an inner homosexual articulates the single-most
significant conceptual process in inmate culture’s worldview of consensual and coercive
sex and prison rape. The inner homosexual concept does not mean that inmates believe
everyone has a homosexual nature or that sexual coercion or rape does the victim a favor
by raising his or her sexual consciousness. Inmates do not believe they have to be raped

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148
in order to accept their sexual identity. The inner homosexual exists only as an abstract
symbolic expression25 of inmates’ dual sexual nature expressed in prison sexual culture.
Men and women inmates’ narratives repeatedly refer to an “inner homosexual” or
to one’s “true homosexual nature.” However, all inmates do not talk about an inner
homosexual. Some didn’t know of the concept. Some thought it strange. Cultural
familiarity with an abstract concept would not be shared equally by all members of
culture. Interviewers did not pointedly ask about an inner homosexual. Were inmates
asked “do you have an inner homosexual?” they would likely stare blankly and what such
a question meant. Context determines cultural meaning especially for abstract concepts
like an inner homosexual. This concept outside of its cultural context carries no
culturally appropriate meaning.
In inmate culture the inner homosexual bears on a wide scope of homosexual
behavior. This concept emerged from inmate narratives in different guises. Commonly
the inner homosexual concept functioned to differentiate (what social scientists label)
consensual sex, coercive sex, and rape.
“Every man is a homosexual. Every man has sexual fantasies about a
man.”
“Everyone is willing to do something, it’s whether he’s willing to hold it deep
inside him.”

25

A late 19th century theory of homosexuality posited a third sex, with a man inside a woman body, and a
woman inside a man’s. Thus homosexual behavior derived from an inner cross-sex identity (Gay, 2002, p.
66).

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149
Cultural interpretation of sexual identity
Prison culture explains sexual behavior with a belief in an inherent homosexual
nature. This homosexual nature may emerge on its own in specific cultural contexts.
When asked the difference between a turn-out and a rape, an inmate said:
“No, [there’s no difference]—turn out is being romanced and already
have the propensity for it and given the opportunity. Being turned out is
evidence of propensity and then sex is voluntary.”
Context refers to particular settings where the inner homosexual emerges. Prison
provides such a context. Inmates’ expression ‘time will get you’ refers to inmates’
eventual incapability to stave off the inner homosexual. Long prison terms--10 or more
years, weaken one’s resistance to the inner homosexual.
“I believe the guys who are most open anti-gay . . . . the more I'm convinced
[they] got something in [them] that's gay. If you never got locked you'd have done
it out there, maybe it would take alcohol or drugs but you'd do it. There is a
sexual being in you that you didn't explore until you came to prison."
Looking from the outside in, the inner homosexual concept seems to help
neutralize and rationalize, and make more personally acceptable, inmates’ homosexual
behavior. Perhaps for straight inmates the concept of inner homosexual enables
reconciliation between sexual behavior and self-concepts. On the premise of an inner
homosexual, straight inmates are homosexuals who have not yet come out.
The inner homosexual helps explain women inmates’ attitude toward sexual
assault victims. Victims, inmates said, have not accepted their inner homosexual. They
are more vulnerable to ridicule and social attack than women who joined the sex scene

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150
and have friends and lovers “watching her back.” In the logic of the culture, rejection of
the inner homosexual means weakness. By virtue of their own physical or mental
weakness, weak inmates can be victimized in a culturally justifiable act of sexual assault.
Important to note, however, that sexual assault would be unlikely. Women want to fit in
with the in-crowd (Alarid, 2000), so they participate in social life and make friends.
Men and women inmates who enter prison and admit they were homosexual
outside are better regarded by fellow inmates than those who are turned out. Open
acceptance of homosexuality means in inmate culture that these inmates were “true to
themselves,” and did not hide or deny their inner homosexual. Inmate worldview
declares that prison does not force homosexuality on anyone. Rather, narratives said, a
prison’s sexual scene offers opportunities to ‘become who you are as a sexual being’ in
relative safety, if sexual emergence proceeds along culturally acceptable pathways.
“Here homosexuality is accepted. I like to know who is around me, snitch, gay,
straight. If you are an undercover fag you may have AIDS. Out n out is more
accepted because you know your surroundings with them. There’s more respect if
you are out and out. You’re less of a man if you are in denial.”
Accepting one’s sexual identity inside prison may be an arduous, perhaps violent,
process. ‘Becoming who you are’ as a sexual being requires accepting one’s inner
homosexuality. A homosexual or gay who doesn’t conceal his or her identity upon
admission to prison openly admits to the general population his or her acceptance of
one’s inner, homosexual nature. Prison sex worldview accepts inmates who recognize
their inner sexual identity but balks when inmates try to hide it. “I respect someone who

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151
is who they are, if they were homosexual on the street I respect that more, stay consistent
with who you are.”
Cultural symbolism of the inner homosexual
Inmates’ subjective perceptions of homosexuality focus on the inner homosexual
concept. This concept has a powerful symbolic impact in inmate culture. Often,
inmates’ perceptions of homosexuality include strong, often brutal interpretations of
inmates’ encounter with their own sexual identity. To disregard one’s own nature
signifies one’s weak-mindedness. Physical weakness, the inability to physically protect
oneself, or mental weakness, the inability to withstand external forces to engage in sex or
resist threats, represent cultural anathema. Weakness can be met only with contempt.
When these elements are symbolically integrated – no one comes to prison naïve;
inmates are by nature homosexual; and resistance to accepting one’s nature symbolizes
weak-mindedness--conditions exist to create a sexual cultural continuum of social
respect. At the extreme positive end are all-out queens; at the extreme negative end are
men who must be forced by their own weakness to face and accept their own sexual
nature. In order for these weak men to find their true inner identity, narratives said, these
men must be raped. In this situation, a literalist interpretation of rape gives way to a
merger of prison sexual culture’s principle metaphors--the inner homosexuality and rape.
In this metaphoric merger of symbolic images the rapist disappears and the focus turns to
an inmate with a clearer recognition of sexual identity.
The ‘inherent energy’ of the inner homosexual pushes through the resistance of
inmates. When resistance to accepting one’s inner sexual nature combines with the idea
that ‘no one comes to prison naïve’ there emerges a complex gender system. Embedded

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152
in the gender system dynamics are metaphors of personal weakness and strength. A
complex paradigm of social and sexual forces plays itself out among inmates. Inner and
public socio-sexual identity combines with personal strength and weakness, along with
female tendencies and acceptance of an innate homosexual nature, to create a gender
system with sexual role relationships identified more than 50 years ago.
Within the context of these beliefs and social dynamics, inmates assess the
distinctions among consensual and coercive sex vs. rape using culturally determined
criteria. These are criteria mutually exclusive from those in a free-society worldview.
Inmate culture does not have a standardized set of criteria to distinguish among types of
sex acts. There are cultural issues to be resolved. Who consents to sex and why; who
needed coaxing and why; who needed coaxing but later slide into a new sexual role; and
who resisted coaxing but consented anyway as a means to find protection or commissary
products are questions needing resolution in the calculus of a prison sex worldview.
Interview data show that rape vs. coercion vs. consensual sex are culturally defined but
are not mutually exclusive categories. These are cultural classifications whose defining
criteria shift as context shifts.
When inmates are asked if a sex act was consensual, coercive or rape, a common
response was “it depends.” Such a response does not mean inmates avoided “the” answer
or had something to hide or cover up. Rather, culturally complex social categories have
fuzzy boundaries. There are analogous cultural socio-sexual categories. Examples
include: gay vs. homosexual; homosexual vs. heterosexual who has sex with same-sex
inmates; homosexual vs. heterosexual vs. down-low inmates who have same-sex relations
but say they are not homosexuals; homosexuals vs. gays vs. closet queens who have

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153
same-sex relations but say they aren’t queens or homosexuals. These are the grey areas
of cultural classification out of which emerge ambiguous interpretations of inmate
behavior.
“Rape is a turn out; a rapist is helping a guy come to terms with who he is.”
“A man can’t be raped because he is gay but hasn’t realized it—being gay is
already in him.”
Prison sex worldview interprets an unwillingness to accept one’s own sexual
nature as a cause of potential greater harm than a hard turnout. In the logic of prison rape
worldview, an inmate cannot be coerced into oral sex but may ‘need’ to be ‘pushed’ into
the process of sexual awakening. Inmate sex worldview does not interpret such a push as
coercion. Rather it represents an act of a person enabling someone to accept the inner
homosexual. And soon as an inmate comes to terms with the inner homosexual, the
sooner personal tumult and social anxiety diminish.
Inmate Culture’s Worldview on Sexual Violence
A prison worldview holds a ‘real’ man incapable of sexual victimization unless he
“wants” to be raped. A real man embodies attitudes about men’s defensive strength and
gender identity. Real men aren’t weak-minded. A real man stands up and fights. A man
who gives up and gives in to physical force carries a damning label forever. The
following excerpt illustrates a man’s weakness in the context of a turn-out. The speaker
explains a turn-out vs. a rape from a sexual aggressor’s perspective:

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154
“Most definitely you turned them out no matter what. You violated the
rules. You have no choice but to continue what you are doing. All it takes
is one time and you [victim] will be labeled the rest of your life. You will
be a dick sucker.”
Prison culture interprets sexual violence by its context. An act of sexual violence
in one context may be interpreted as rape, but in another context, the same act may be
interpreted as a turn-out, and in still another it may be an act of coming out of the closet.
Inmates see sexual violence. However, their subjective perception of sexual violence
dominates their interpretation of the violent act. When inmates identified contexts of
sexual violence, some said an act was rape; others said the same act was not rape.26
Excepts below are commonly occurring subjective reinterpretations of sexual violence as
they occur in narrative data:
1. Some men enjoy being beaten up while engaging in sex.
Man: “They just tell them how they like it, I want you to hit on me, to
squeeze my arm or my neck, hit me in the sack, hit me in the chest.”

Women: “Rough sex is very common, no one is gentle in cell block.
Pulling hair, biting, punching each other out, using strap-ons.”
2. A sex victim may be running a con on his assaulter. An ostensible sexual victim
may allow an assailant to believe he has the upper hand when in fact the act was
instigated and controlled by the perceived victim for the pleasure of the victim or

26

This point becomes explicit when inmates differentiated a turn-out vs. a rape and coercive vs. consensual
sex.

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155
to achieve an instrumental outcome. A sexual victim may receive protection. A
punk will be protected and receive goods in exchange for sexual services.
“They put their well being in your hands all you got to do is sit there and
keep your mouth shut and they help you, if you’re weak, you will meet
them half way, you feel protected and your property isn’t stolen, so you’ll
have sex with them, it’s compensation.”

“He was protecting me, he knew my first year was hard and told me he’d
make sure no one would bother me anymore. We were friends, he was so
nice and kind, and I really thought we were just friends. Then one day he
came in my cell and said, Jackie, I have needs and you need to satisfy
them. I’ve given you all this stuff, protected you. I told him I’d given him
stuff to and that I thought of him like an older brother, he said I could
either do it or he’d take it. So I bent over and let him do it to me…Now I
just find my own protection. Look for the downest, baddest motherfucker.”

“It’s better to not be a pin cushion, one pin is better. It’s out of
convenience.”
3. Victims are homosexuals ashamed to come out of the closet. These men were
afraid or ashamed to be homosexual on the street and have carried that fear inside.
Inside however, they can come to terms with their inner homosexual.

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156
“Most common and easiest is you got people who it’s already in ‘em to be
gay and haven’t run across the right person, you pull up on them and talk
to him, and put him around another homo to turn him out and show him
how to do it, then they start shaving their face and arching their eyebrows
and all that other crap, changing their voice, they want someone to bring
it out of them.”

“One you’re basically manipulating a desire that’s already in someone
and getting them to do something they already want to do.”
4. A potential rape victim has multiple options to prevent or intervene on his own
rape. If he allows it, then the act cannot be defined as rape.
“The way I see it, he raped him but the dude he must have had it in his
mind before, you just can’t do that to someone who don’t want it.”

“I look at it if a person do get raped he wanted it or he would have said
something, just like in a man and woman relationship.”
5. Childhood sexual abuse precludes claims of rape victimization in adulthood. A
rape worldview asserts that early-life experience with sexual abuse acquaints an
object with same-sex relations and therefore cannot be raped again. Prison
worldview asserts early-life abuse experiences should have provided knowledge
and foresight sufficient to prevent rape. Inmate culture holds that an inmate

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157
should be strong enough to control his or her own destiny. If rape happens, it
occurs only because a victim wanted it to occur.
“Not really. Homosexuals put yourself at high risk; laws claim he has no
evidence and because homosexual he likes it.”
Female: “the person has low self esteem and is mentally weak. They just
let it happen. If you can trick a person out of their pants you can easily
trick them out of their money.”
A theoretical point must be reiterated. The complex differentiation among
acts of sexual violence, sexual consent, and sexual coercion occur as a function of
inmate culture’s symbolic reinterpretation of socio-sexual behavior. The cultural
meaning of a sexual act finds its derivation in social context. In the way inmates
use their culture, if an act of sexual violence remains constant in intensity and
physical expression, inmates’ subjective perception—the meaning, of this act
varies by context. Thus, the primary mechanism used to determine an act’s
meaning focuses on contextualization. Since prison social contexts are open to
others in addition to an aggressor and victim, they have a voice in the
determination of the culture meaning of sexual violence. In prison culture, the
cultural decision—rape or not rape, about an act of sexual violence includes onlookers. Thus, when inmates were asked if a sex act was rape or not, their
common response was “it depends.”

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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158
CHAPTER 4. THE CULTURE OF SEXUAL VICTIMIZATION
“It’s like [victims] wear a sign on their head that says ‘we’re a victim.’
There’s something about them that’s different. Every pedophile will say
they look for children who are vulnerable. Rapists too. They just know
who to get. It’s like victims wear a mask rapists see.” [woman inmate]

The prison sex scene may be avoided, inmates said, by telling a potential suitor
that they are already hooked up or not interested in sexual relations. A popular retort to
sexual invitations, inmates said, was “Just Say No.” There are, however, cultural cues of
sexual desire or interest in experimentation, despite an outward rejection of or
sluggishness in interest in homosexual behavior. Inmates’ sexual desire can be indicated
by their companions, especially if they hang around with homosexuals; where they hang
around, especially if they hang in spots where gays customarily hang out; how they carry
themselves, that is, whether they walk with their head straight up and look into the eyes
of other inmates, stand by themselves away from others on the recreation yard, or walk
with slumped shoulders, giving an appearance of physical and mental weakness. Public
speech gives a clear indication. Talk about sexual topics, sexual jokes; inmates who
stand together joking and talking and touching one another; inmates who play “grab ass”
as they tell stories and jokes, and so on are taken by inmates as a cultural indication of
becoming interested in sexual activity.
Our data measures sexual paradigm shifts from outside to inside prison and inside
prison over time. Sex-role shift possibilities have a wide range.
(1) Men’s outside-to-inside paradigm has these options: outside straight to inside
straight; outside straight to inside gay; outside gay to inside gay; and, outside gay to

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

159
inside queen. (2) Men’s inside-to-inside paradigm has these options: inside straight to
inside straight; inside straight to inside down low; inside straight to inside gay; inside gay
to inside gay.
(3) Women’s outside-to-inside paradigm has these options: outside gay to inside
stud broad; outside gay to inside femme; outside straight to inside stud broad; outside
straight to inside femme; outside straight to inside straight. (4) Women’s inside-to-inside
paradigm has these options: inside straight to inside straight; inside straight to inside
femme or stud broad; inside gay to inside femme or stud broad; and inside straight to
inside down low.
Prison Sexual Culture
Sexualizing prison culture
Clemmer’s theory of culture and prisonization posited that inmates undergo
prisonization and learn the rules of prison life. Prisonization would by definition include
socialization into sexual sub-cultures of prison life. Our term sexualization refers to the
process of inmates acquiring cultural knowledge and rules of behavior that enable them
to participate in the sexual sub-culture of prison. Participation does not necessarily mean
inmates’ personal involvement in sexual activity. Rather, participation refers to
awareness of sexual culture sufficient to choose participation or avoidance of a prison’s
sexual scene. In either case, inmates’ must know cultural rules of behavior to engage in
sexual activity or remain outside the sexual scene.
Clemmer postulated that inmates bring with them into prison personal traits and
behavior and that these influence the nature of prison culture. The history of prison
culture research, as far back as Fishman’s 1934 study, described aggressive responses of

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

160
an inmate population to homosexuals. Sykes’s deprivation argument strongly suggested
that prison life was devoid of sexual and social pleasures and that prison culture itself
forced inmates into homosexual behavior. The importation of inmates by definition
includes their sexual preferences. Clemmer’s theory of culture argues that (1) sexual
importation would affect sexual preferences of new inmates and (2) the dynamics
between homo- and heterosexuals would influence future generations of prison culture.
Theory of prison sex and sexual violence must abide the concept that prison general
populations are not asexual. Any theory of sexual violence must, by virtue of the
composition of general population, account for inmate sexual behavior.

Table 17 shows data on pre-imprisonment sexual preferences and sexual
experiences. Gay and bisexual preferences were reported by 38.1 percent of women vs.
16.4 percent of men inmates. Same-sex experiences were reported by 41.4 percent of
women and 19.6 percent of men inmates.
Table 17 Pre-Imprisonment Sexual Preference and Sexual Experience by Gender

Total
Num

Men
%

Num

Women
%

Num

%

Sexual Preference
Straight

438

83.6

342

83.6

96

61.9

Gay

64

11.4

36

8.8

28

18.1

Bisexual

62

11.0

31

7.6

31

20.0

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

161
*Same-Sex Experience on Street
No

365

74.2

283

80.4

82

58.6

Yes

127

25.8

69

19.6

58

41.4

* p < .001
Table 18 shows sexual preference and pre-imprisonment sexual experience by
time served. Women’s data show that: (1) 37.3 percent of women inmates with less than
five years of prison experience and 39.6 with more than five years self-reported gay or
bisexual preferences; and (2) 46.2 percent of women with less than five years of
incarceration and 31.9 percent of women with more than five years reported same-sex
street experiences. Overall, independent of time served, 41.4 percent of women inmates
reported same-sex street experiences; 38.1 percentage of women reported preimprisonment a gay or bisexual preference. Men’s data show that: (1) 11.4 percent of
men inmates with less than five years served and 19.7 percent with more than five years
self-reported gay and bisexual preferences; and (2) 13.3 percent of men inmates with less
than five years and 24.7 percent of inmates with more than five years self-reported samesex street experiences. Independent of time serve, 19.6 percent of men inmates selfreported same-sex street experiences; 16.2 percent self-reported a gay or bisexual
preference.

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and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

162
Table 18 Pre-Imprisonment Sexual Preference and Experience by Length of Time
Served-5yrs
Total
Num

5yrs or Less
%

Num

%

More than 5yrs
Num

%

Male Sexual Preference
Straight

342

83.6

155

88.6

187

79.9

Gay

36

8.8

14

8.0

22

9.4

Bisexual

31

7.6

6

3.4

25

10.7

Straight

96

61.9

64

62.7

32

60.4

Gay

28

18.1

16

15.7

12

22.6

Bisexual

31

20.0

22

21.6

9

17.0

No

283

80.4

137

86.7

146

75.3

Yes

69

19.6

21

13.3

48

24.7

No

82

58.6

50

53.8

32

68.1

Yes

58

41.4

43

46.2

15

31.9

Female Sexual Preference

Male Same-Sex Experience on
Street

Female Same-Sex Experience on
Street

Table 19 data show that (1) 13.2 percent of men inmates with less than ten years,
and 20.1 percent of inmates with more than ten years served, self-reported gay and

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

163
bisexual preferences; and (2) 14.2 percent of men with less than ten years served and 27.7
percent of men with more than ten years self-reported same-sex street experiences.
Independent of time served, 19.6 percent of men inmates self-reported same-sex street
experiences, and 16.4 percent self-reported a gay or bisexual preference.
Table 19 Male Inmates by Time Served, More and Less than 10 years
Total

Less than 10yrs
Num

%

10+

Num

%

Num

%

342

83.6

203

86.4

139

79.9

Sexual Preference
Straight
Gay

36

8.8

18

7.6

18

10.3

Bisexual

31

7.6

14

6.0

17

9.8

No

283

80.4

181

85.8

102

72.3

Yes

69

19.6

30

14.2

39

27.7

Same-Sex Experience on Street

Clemmer’s theory of culture, differential prisonization, and institutional
adaptation suggests importation’s effects on prison culture. These data indicate that
women’s prison culture might accept gay behavior with less resistance than men’s prison
culture. Data show that 38.1 percent of women reported a gay or bisexual preference,
and 41.4 percent reported same-sex experience on the street, a culture of homosexuality
may serve as a culturally acceptable mode of institutional adaptation. By contrast, 16.4
percent of men reported a gay or bisexual preference and 19.6 percent had same-sex
experiences on the street. Men’s prison culture may not easily accept a homosexual

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

164
adaptation, except on the fringes of prison society. Men’s prison homosexuality would
be rejected27 as a central cultural theme and socio-sexual lifestyle.
These data show that men and women inmates have experiences in a homosexual
lifestyle prior to imprisonment. To be sure, new and experienced inmates are not naïve
consumers of prison homosexual culture, albeit their involvement differs by personal
preference. Upon entry into prison men and women inmates brought a sexual identity
and experiences. A cultural theory of prison rape and sexual coercion must abide the fact
that (new or experienced) inmates are experienced in homosexual culture. This fact
suggests women and men inmates possess a level of cultural awareness to cope with and
respond to sexual pressure.
In-Prison Sexual Role Transformation
Inmate self-reports provided baseline data on sex-role shift. Role shifts were
measured over time served on current sentence. Inmates estimated the number of
straight, down low and all-out gays in a representative cross-section of 100 inmates on
their yard. Inmates could identify with a group size of 100.28 Men inmates estimated
more men were straight and not down low than women inmates. The median number of
straight men was 68 compared to 30 among women inmates.
Table 20 shows the mean estimate of women on the down low was more than 50
percent lower than the men’s estimates; men’s median estimate for down lows was five
27

Psychological anthropological theory argues that culture has ideal psychological prototypes for positions
in social structure. That is, in modern society, a person who has particular attributes and psychological
traits are the best teachers. As a biological analogy, a culture, like an animal population, accepts some
types of behavior traits but not others. The latter are eventually pushed out of the population or occupy a
marginal adaptation to social life.
28
Among all interviewed inmates, 37.8 percent resided in dorms: 48.7 percent of women inmates resided
in dorms with a median count of 120; 33.7 percent of men inmates resided in dorms with a median count of
75.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

165
times higher than women’s. Men inmates estimate that 14.83 percent of 100 men are
openly gay. Men inmates self-reported pre-imprisonment sex roles as gay, bisexual, and
transgender at 15.4 percent. However, women estimate that 59.75 percent are openly gay
inside (cf. Gagnon & Simon, 1968) but only 38.1 percent self-reported gay and bisexual
roles outside. This distinction fits the self-reported narrative pattern that self-identified
straight women participate in homosexual relationships inside.
Table 20 Estimated Sexual Preference for 100 General Population Inmates
Total

Men

Women

Mean

Median

Mean

Median

Mean

Median

Straight

53.51

60

61.32

68

34.42

30

Gay

26.48

13

14.83

10

59.75

60

Down low

22.80

20

27.54

20

11

4

Estimated Sexual
Preference

Table 21 data show estimated sexual preferences by more or less than five years
among women. The percentage of straight and down-low women remains relatively
constant. A majority of women are not straight and an overwhelming percentage of
women are not on the down low. The mean estimate of women on the down low was
more than 50 percent lower than men’s estimate.
The percentage of straight men by more or less than five year served was
significantly lower than the percentage of inmates who self-reported a straight lifestyle
prior to imprisonment (83.6 percent). The sum of the percentage difference between

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

166
estimates of straight inmates and estimates of down-low inmates approximates the
inmates’ self-reported straight, street sexual orientation (88.86 percent). With an increase
in time served, estimates of straight inmates drop and down lows increase. This fact
supports the narrative theme that “time will get you,” meaning the longer a man remains
inside the more likely he’ll engage in same-sex relations. Interestingly, however, the
mean number of open homosexuals doesn’t show significant increases. This suggests
that if men become open with their sexuality, they do so early in their imprisonment
otherwise they have the option of going down low.
Table 21 Estimates of Sexual Orientation by Time Served-5yrs
Total
Mean
Female Estimates

5 or less Years
Median

Mean

> 5 Years

Median

Mean

Median

32.42

30

33.64

30

29.71

25

Straight

59.75

60

57.81

60

63.85

75

Gay

11.00

4

11.67

2.5

9.4

4

Down low

61.32

68

66.08

75

56.9

60

Straight

61.32

68

66.08

75

56.9

60

Gay

14.83

10

13.5

7

16.03

10

Down low

27.54

20

23.53

20

30.81

25

Male Estimates

Table 22 show an analysis for women and men who’ve served more or less than
10 years approximates the analysis for more or less than five years analysis. Estimates do
not significantly differ. Table 21 and Table 22 show estimates of the percentage of

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

167
straight women decrease, and down-low women increase however slightly. The estimate
of women who become gay over time increases. Men inmates’ estimates show that over
time the percentage of straight men decreases and gay and down low inmates increase.
Table 22 Estimates of Sexual Orientation by Time Served-10yrs
Total
Mean

< 10 Years
Median

Mean

10 + Years

Median

Mean

Median

Female Estimates
Straight

32.42

30

33.17

30

29.21

25

Gay

59.75

60

58.46

60

64.76

75

Down low

11.00

4

11.39

1.5

9.33

5

Straight

61.32

68

64.13

70

56.77

60

Gay

14.83

10

13.61

7.5

16.75

10

Down low

27.54

20

26.56

20

29.0

20

Male Estimates

Interview data show that inmates aren’t ascribed to a sexual role, because of
physical size, hair length, and race or ethnicity; nor are they forced to accept a sociosexual role. Interview data show that sex roles shift from outside to inside indicated by
the expression. “Gay for the stay,” an expression heard across the country in women’s
prisons,
“I think over half this prison would try to say they’re with so and so. People come
in who are straight and the next day they are with someone. The next day a
person is a wife. It’s real childish. They do it to get attention. Couples hook up

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

168
quickly, out of instability, to create a unit for protection immediately on entry to
the prison. You get the feeling when you know someone’s looking at you. They
play that and it goes further. Sex is feeling good.”
Women inmates report the common occurrence of sexual exploration.
“When they come here they look forward to a sexual experience. You don’t get
women who believe stereotypes on TV and in movies. It’s as if women look
forward to that behavior [same sex relations] and welcome it. If I weren’t
already a lesbian, I wouldn’t be one in here. They lose all respect for themselves,
no sense of self. Some women who have girlfriends in here and have husbands.”
Men and women inmates reported the cultural acceptability of living a celibate
lifestyle; however, they said, lengthy imprisonment, commonly cited as more than five
and approaching 10 years, the more likely inmates will slowly enmesh in the homosexual
scene.
Sexual Assault: Judgment of an Inmate Jury
“You hear rape like that [movie-like rape]. I don’t know, I’m not saying it
happens so frequently. I can’t remember, but I can’t put a number on it. I don’t
think it happens every day. Within here it’s like with anything else, there’s a
culture of inmates that participate in that type of stuff. You have people who can
do 10 or 12 years and the thought of being with a man never come about but you
have those who give into those desires and do whatever it take to get pleasure,
they’re wolves or bandits. You have people that guys go to who are able to talk
others into doing sexual acts and those who forcibly can, it depends on the
strength and fortitude of the individual. If four guys rape you it doesn’t make you

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

169
a punk. You could have just been overpowered. It’s what you do after it happens,
if it happens to you.”
Witnessed or not, prison rape communicates a ‘public’ message to the prison
community. No matter how an institution assesses a sexual assault, inmate culture has its
own cultural criteria to determine if a sexual assault was rape. For a sexual aggressor and
victim this determination has immediate and long-term consequences.
No, reputation don’t care in here. [They] don’t care who you was in the
world, you can be anything with a pistol, but if you don’t fight, you’re
weak. If they retaliate [after sexual assault] they’re viewed a little
different, might just be a weak person that’s just studding up, they’re still
weak. Your personality and character tells all of it. Everybody sees you as
something weak, can’t turn yourself around, once you get a [weak] jacket,
it sticks with you.
Inmates who know ‘for sure’ or hear about sexual aggression decide if an act of
sexual violence was justified. This justification comes as a social judgment made by an
inmate “jury” and rests on a jury’s decision about a sexual assailant’s motivations, a
victim’s culpability in the sexual assault, and a victim’s response to a sexual assault.
Inmate jurors ask if an assailant was “entitled” to act out a sexual assault. Was an
assailant an impatient turn-out artist who pushed a victim into a quick turnout with his
inner homosexual, knowing the victim would have been turned out anyway?

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

170

Entitlement to Sexual Violence
“Entitled, yeah. People think that, yeah, to be a bully.”
Sexual pressure and assaults are not arbitrary acts. They are not chance
encounters between an aggressor and a victim. The processes of sexual aggression are
distinct from, for instance, an anonymous, opportunistic street mugging or a rapists’
assault on someone who happened to walk in an unlighted park. A women inmate
commented:
“She feels entitled to power. Because a victim owes the rapist, victim has debts,
so the rapist can take what she wants.”
The following excerpt combines the concepts of sexual entitlement, sexual
empowerment, and race relations. This statement suggests that aggressive sex leads to
more aggressive sex.
“I think they feel empowered by it, maybe not entitled. By taking it they feel
empowered, like I say, I’m not getting on the blacks for it but it’s more prevalent
with them. They seem to have this thing that gives them a sense of empowerment
over the whitey to take that from him. I’ve seen a few homosexual black men but
they’re always willing to go with blacks and whites. It’s definitely an
empowerment thing. It’s just like on the streets when you see a black male with a
white girl. It’s to let the white boys know [they] can get your girls. I’ve talked to
black guys about that in here. They say it’s true.”
The next excerpt highlights that some inmates’ need for sex extends beyond
entitlement and into a sexually violent compulsion.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

171
“In prison, [sex] . . . is a drug to them. Sex is something they have to have, not
something they want. It’s a release, have to have it. [Taking sex] is no different
than taking somebody’s TV.”
The next inmate excerpt has an interpretation of entitlement coupled with hustling
someone. “They” refers to sexual aggressors.
“Umm, you see a lot of, umm, setting them up to where they doing favors for
them, protection of them, financial support to them. That would give a false sense
of entitlement. They buy into it.”
Baumeister, Catanese, and Wallace (2002, p. 119) found that sexually coercive
men, such as date rapists, use exploitive techniques, such as gift giving with an
expectation of sex as compensation.
In the next excerpt, a male inmate said that a rapist recognizes that he does
not have a sense of entitlement to commit rape. However, in this instance, an
opportunity for sexual assault occurred.
“No, he’s knows he’s not entitled to it. He’s doing it just because he can.
If a man rapes [someone] I can’t tell. That’s snitches, I can’t get in their
business. But if I was raped, I’m going to the staff. I’ll get a snitch jacket and
have to watch my back. [Rape victim] takes it because he knows no one going to
do something.”
Table 23 and Table 24 show that men and women inmates may perceive a
sexual assailant as entitled to commit sexual violence. Entitlement to commit a
sexual assault either in fact or as a cultural option seems a persistent and
especially violent theme in women’s and men’s attitude about, for instance,

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

172
personal debt, and sexual violence. Entitlement to commit sexual assault emerges
in more than a fringe percentage of both men and women inmates. Inmates’
perceptions of sexual assault as a form of entitlement are instigated by a victim’s
physical or mental weakness or by a victim’s violation of inmate behavior
protocols.
Table 23 Inmates’ Perceptions of Rapists’ Entitlement to Commit Sexual Assault by
Gender and Time Served, 5yrs.
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

77

77.0

47

72.3

30

85.7

Yes

23

23.0

18

27.7

5

14.3

No

217

71.4

100

74.1

117

69.2

Yes

87

28.6

35

25.9

52

30.8

Men

Men inmates who’ve served more than 5 and 10 years share a similar level of
perception of sexual violence as an entitlement, 30.8 and 29.0 percent, respectively.
Women inmates with more than 5 and 10 years, however, express overwhelming
agreement, 85.7 and 84.6 percent, respectively, that predators are not entitled to commit
sexual violence.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

173
Table 24 Inmates’ Perceptions of Rapists’ Entitlement to Commit Sexual Assault by
Gender and Time Served, 10yrs.
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years
%

Num

%

Women
No

77

77.0

55

74.3

22

84.6

Yes

23

23.0

19

25.7

4

15.4

No

217

71.4

129

71.7

88

71.0

Yes

87

28.6

51

28.3

36

29.0

Men

Inmate comments:
“Yes, just because, basically you are showing a weakness and then everything
else counts. It all fall on showing weakness.”

“Yes. He’s weak and if you’re weak you can take anything he’s has.”

“Yes, it’s her duty to prove you can’t punk me for that; usually fights.”

“Probably. It’s one of the first things he feeds on; this guy is weak, I can have
him.”

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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174

“I would say that would depend on the reason behind it, if the person is in here
for a sex crime then yeah, they think they’re entitled to take it, to make the person
experience it themselves.”

“If I see someone just come into the system. I offer him a shot of coffee. I give him
some shoes, if he accepts all this I would expect to get a paycheck.”

“Dude might have a life sentence and he rapes somebody and they’ll say oh well I
don’t blame him if I had that much time I’d be raping someone too.”
Personal Debts
“A lot of people who use the word rape to administration, but it usually doesn’t
happen that way. They consent to sex to get out of debt.”
Debts are likely to bring a debtor trouble. A debt could be overlooked by a
creditor. However, overlooking a debt indicates a creditor’s weakness and potential for
additional economic exploitation. As a result, commissary, drug, or gambling debts, or
property theft, leaves a debtor vulnerable to acts of sexual and non-sexual victimization.
”Back in the day [1987] when I first came to prison, rape was rampant on the
yard behind drug debts. Now they tell you not to borrow or accept anything.”
A violation of social protocol incurs if debts are unpaid. However, if a
creditor interprets a debt as a public insult the likelihood of violent retribution
increases. Stealing away with someone’s lover, cheating on one’s own lover, and

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

175
public disrespect for one’s lover--with the exchange of sexual favors for drugs or
property, or verbally disobeying him or her in a public setting, can affect
culturally sanctioned violent recrimination. These socially proscribed behaviors
could be construed as symbolic forms of ‘property’ theft and thus, an incursion of
debt.
Today it’s more violent than back then. The yard is fighting all the time over
girlfriends—you talked to my girlfriend or wife and they fight.”
There are examples of inmates who disagree with debts as the cause of physical or
sexual violence. In the next excerpts male inmates said a fight over unpaid debts would
be far more likely than sexual violence, if the fight’s motivation was not tied to sex.
“Never heard of anyone raped for owing money. Say if I owe someone money,
they’ll say ‘when am I going to get my money,’ we might fight for it, but unless it
was all about sex to start with, that’s not an issue.”

“Sex, that’s more voluntary, you have homosexuals and people that’s closet and
people on the DL, so that’s a little less forceful than being turned out. You could
have a person that’s curious, which happens a lot. Gambling and debt is just
Hollywood TV. Same sex in the penitentiary is mostly voluntarily or loneliness
that’s basically what it is. Half the people who you send here are young and
they’re sexually active. You have masturbation and gay, that’s why. That’s more
common than rape.”

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176
Weakness
Weak inmates’ physical or mental inability to protect themselves, to some degree,
justifies their victimization and eliminates an assailant’s full culpability in the act. If a
victim strenuously resisted a sexual or non-sexual attack, and even if a victim retaliated
against an assailant, an inmate jury might acquit a victim of some culpability, and to
some degree lift a shroud cast by weakness and its incumbent negative social stigma.
Nevertheless, the social consequences of the label weak and effects of sexual
victimization will never be fully escaped.
Social Consequences of Victimization
“In here if you were raped, they’ll think it could have been your fault.”
Prison worldview judged by free society standards rests on a blame-thevictim form explanation. Prison cultural logic begins with a blame-the-victim
philosophy and infuses it with complex forms of cultural explanations of
homosexuality, homosexual violence, and sexual identity. Violent men and
women inmates are not strangers to prisons. Their presence influences how social
dynamics occur and are interpreted. Violence inside prison doesn’t raise
eyebrows or cause panic but it does usually require some type of explanation. An
explanation comes from the core premises that have emerged in American culture.
While these premises are radically different from free-society standards, and
while inmates do indeed blame victims for their sexual assault, inmates recognize
sexual violence as abhorrent, unjustifiable acts. On one hand, inmates said
victims shouldn’t have gambling debts but did and therefore their sexual
victimization was justified. On the other hand, inmates said sexual assault

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177
shouldn’t occur and when it does, such violence influences everyone’s quality of
life. Interview data show that inmates are not brutish and indifferent to others’
suffering. However, there are few inmate-initiated remedies for pain but there are
many informal types of intervention and prevention.
“No Reason for Rape”
Men’s and women’s prison culture share common perceptions of the
consequences of sexual victimization. Inmate culture presumes that no one needs
to be raped; rape can be prevented; and that if rape occurs, fault lies with the
victim. Inmate culture condemns sexual victims as manipulators or liars and
largely responsible for their own victimization. These cultural presumptions can
be adduced from inmates’ statements about a victims’ role in sexual assault.
There are several cultural reasons accounting for sexual victimization. First,
victims may have staged their own sexual victimization to garner attention from
inmates or staff. Second, they may have staged assault to falsely blame an inmate
or staff member. Third, they may have owed canteen or drug debts and thus set
the stage for sexual assault. Fourth, they may have sexually enticed a woman by
flirting and then failed to fulfill a silent promise of a sexual affair. The reasons for
sexual victimization matter not: sexual victims are always social outcasts.
“Everybody just stops talking to them in fear of talking to officers or Internal
Affairs.”
Johnson (1971, pp. 83-97) wrote there was no protection for a rape victim.
Indeed, today’s inmates, especially women, can be merciless on the condemnation
of and disgust for a rape victim.

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178
“Really they just get made fun of because they’re so naïve. I understand it
could happen, but a lot of people say ‘how you gonna get raped by a
bitch?’ We have inmates who cheat on girlfriends and when they find out
say they were forced. You not raped, you just got caught. Tthey asked for
it, or that they did something wrong.”
Victims have few “positive” cultural options. Women inmates who’ve been raped
and don’t retaliate ‘learn to accept” the physical victimization move ahead as best they
can or may move into the homosexual social scene. There, they may adopt a culturally
acceptable role within the gay subculture and regain some type of ‘normal’ social life;
however, bumps and bruises along the way are inevitable as victims’ weakness continues
to be tested.
If sexual victims don’t report assault to staff they find themselves trapped among
inmates by negative social stigma. Women inmates said: “she’s [rape victim] a whore if
she stays on yard and doesn’t tell staff. Other women will say she asked for it or she
wanted it. It’s pretty ugly.” However, reporting a rapist may lead to further victimization
from a rapist’s girlfriends. Eigenberg (1989) studied whether officers would believe
inmates’ reports of victimization. She wrote:
This study suggests that correctional officers blame victims for their victimization
and that officers stigmatize inmates by their failure to believe victims.
Furthermore, certain types of victims, those that fit stereotypical definitions are
more frequently believed than are other types of victims. Thus, it is possible that
inmates who do not fit the typical victim profile will refuse to report
victimization. And if atypical victims fail to report victimization, there is always

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179
the danger that officers’ perceptions of victims will not be challenged and that
they will continue to doubt victims who do not conform to their definitions of
typical victims. (p. 52)
Staying on the compound may show resilience and strength but nevertheless carry
negative stigma and consequences. Victims may withdraw from compound social life,
preferring to avoid unnecessary social contact, which ironically may publicly support the
contention that a victim wasn’t raped. Victims may remain in their cell or close to it, take
‘sink’ baths, thus avoiding a shower area, and eat commissary goods instead of venturing
to a dining hall. Social withdrawal may seem like a reasonable option. However, unless
an inmate chose a solitary lifestyle and exhibited mental and physical strength to support
such a social decision, withdrawal can increase a victim’s risk of physical, sexual, and
economic victimization. Victims stand alone unless they have partners or relatives, and
even then companions’ assistance is certainly not guaranteed.
Smith and Batiuk (1989) wrote that a threat of sexual violence was the “dominant
metaphor” used to interpret almost every other aspect of prison reality (p. 30). Inmate
culture expresses a harsh interpretation of sexual victims. However, details of rape and
mistreatment of victims do not infer epidemic levels of sexual assault in prison dorms and
cellblocks, as Davis suggested (1968). Nor must inmates submit to rape or face severe
beatings or killing. Inmates’ reports of few sexual assaults and dedicated pursuit of
institution social control are not contradicted by cultural statements about sexual
violence. That latter are what inmates say; the former refers to what inmates do. Prison
reality combines interpretations of inmate behavior cast into a mold created over
generations of prison inmate culture history.

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180
Table 25 and Table 26 show inmates’ perceptions of the likelihood of sexual
victims’ support by companions to retaliate against an assailant. These are cultural
responses but not necessarily acted out. Such statements take the form of this
hypothetical statement: “it can happen but [never, sometimes, often] does.” Sexualviolence retaliation functions as a cultural option. These data shouldn’t be taken to
indicate the prevalence of actual retaliation. Fighting against sexual aggression has long
standing in prison culture. The metaphor “fuck, fight or hit the fence” (Eigenberg, 2002)
captures the idea of self-protection against aggression. “In the prison vernacular,
[correctional officers] told them to ‘fight or fuck.’ At the same time, [correctional
officers] would caution them that fighting was a rule violation and that they would be
punished – possibly losing good time or parole dates as a sanction for ‘their’ violence”
(p. 49). The statement indicates the inner check-and-balance inherent in prison culture,
as suggested by Messinger and Sykes, (1960). In the following excerpt an inmate talks
about retaliation in a broader context of prison justice.
“[Retaliation] depends on the crime. There is an odd sense of justice
here. If [victim] didn’t have that coming then there would be retaliation.
If he did have it coming, like if he were a child molester or something, he
would have to retaliate himself.”
Table 25 data indicate a strong perceived agreement over time served by men and
women inmates that a rape victim’s companions will assist the victim in retaliation.
Agreement on retaliation among women inmates decreases to 48.6 percent from 57.9
percent with an increase in time served. Men inmates’ agreement on retaliation increases

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181
to 63.2 percent from 50.6 percent with time served. Levels of agreement remain
consistent by gender over time served.
Table 25 Inmates’ Perceptions of Rape Victim’s Companions’ Retaliation by Gender and
Time Served, 5 Years
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

51

45.1

32

42.1

19

51.4

Yes

62

54.9

44

57.9

18

48.6

No

154

42.1

76

49.4

78

36.8

Yes

212

57.9

78

50.6

134

63.2

Men

Table 26 data show women inmates’ decreased perception of retaliation from less
than to more than 10 years served to 42.3 percent from 58.6 percent, respectively. Men
inmates perceived an increase in retaliation to 61.9 percent from 54.9 percent from less to
more than 10 years served, respectively.

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182
Table 26 Inmates’ Perceptions of Rape Victim’s Companions’ Retaliation by Gender and
Time Served, 10 Years
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years
%

Num

%

Women
No

51

45.1

36

41.4

15

57.7

Yes

62

54.9

51

58.6

11

42.3

No

154

42.1

93

45.1

61

38.1

Yes

212

57.9

113

54.9

99

61.9

Men

Inmate comments:
“No, friends don’t retaliate, person doesn’t have friends, they're loners &
that's the big issue, doesn't have anyone that’s going to bat for them
“Yeah, it depends on what the guy raped does, if he accepts it, it won’t be
an issue but if he retaliate his friends for real will ride with him. Someone
who is raped is still looked at ok as long as he does something, they’ll go
with him. Only if he is involved in the retaliation, friends would never
retaliate for a rape victim without him there.”

“No, because if they don’t defend themselves they’re seen as a person who
is not worth defending.”

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183
Retaliation accompanied by companions may be “culturally” dangerous for
victims’ supporters. Victimization reveals mental and physical weakness. In prison
culture weakness can be contagious and spread to otherwise non-weak inmates who are
publicly too supportive of weak inmates. Contagion may apply to straight men hanging
with gays if gays conceal their preference. Concealment causes problems. Openness
doesn’t.
“The dudes that's undercover can mix with everyone, they may be lifting weights
or good athletes; the known fags mix with their own crowd. Some straights
associate with fags, but mostly not. Say you have 1000 inmates in open population
after 30 days everyone knows who’s who, open out homos running around, they
can socialize and all that, don’t nobody isolate, they talk to them and stuff. As
long as there's respect involved everything's cool, I can know you're under cover
and it's ok.”
Too much support for a sexual assault victim connotes supporters’ weakness. A
sexual victim’s plight only continues even if sexual assault was reported. Once assaulted,
a sexual victim’s withdrawn from compound social life or release from protective
custody would be met by cultural isolation. Victims are cultural cast off to marginal
social positions. Finding alliances of any type would be highly doubtful.
Victim’s Interpretation of Sexual Assault
The next self-reported narrative led an inmate into gay subculture. This selfreport highlights the cultural interpretation of his sexual victimization.29 This narrative

29

The term ‘rationalization’ was avoided for a specific reason. The victim’s characterization of the rape
and rapist, and his response to them, expressed in uniformly throughout interview narratives. One might
interpret uniform similarity as a set of rationalizations, but when inmates’ self-reports are highly structured

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184
reveals the complex dynamic of a sexual assault and mixed emotions and interpretations
of its victim. The narrative expresses the victim’s characterization of the rapist. The
victim said his rape was not “aggressive” and made him “feel comfortable.” Here can be
found the conceptual grey area between prison rape and prison sex as interpreted within
prison worldview. In the eyes of an inmate jury, a non-aggressive sexual act, wherein a
victim reported that he felt comfortable, would not be judged by an inmate jury as rape.
An inmate reported:
“It was after the riot. My experience with the rape came when we came
off the yard, and they put me in a cell with ten inmates who were naked.
They left us in there for twenty-four hours with no clothing. They came
and after about seven days with being in a cell with ten guys they moved
everyone out and left two inmates in a cell with one bed.
I was in there with a big older dude and he was trying to explain to
me that he wanted to have sex with me. I told him I wasn’t feeling
it and he came at me and tried to choke me, put his hands around
my neck. I got him off of me and we started wrestling. I started
punching him and we fought until we couldn’t fight anymore. He
called me [PERSONAL NAME], and said [PERSONAL NAME]
I’m not going to hurt you, over and over again. I was so tired, I
was just like “fuck, ok.”
He went over to a little corner of the cell and got a piece of soap
and washed hisself and me off. He inserted his penis in my butt; he
and uniform in content, independent of prison and geographic location, a strong argument can be made for
cultural patterns rather than idiosyncratic interpretation.

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185
was so gentle, he didn’t aggressively take me. He was older and
knew what he was doing. After he got finished he sat down and
talked to me and stuff like that. I was so angry and couldn’t do
nothing about it; emotionally it really messed me up. It’s still a
rape, there’s nothing I can do about it. When I got out in general
population I was turned out. There wasn’t no beating, he choked
me at first to get me, but after I submitted the rape itself wasn’t
aggressive he didn’t continue to choke me while penetrating or
nothing like that, he made me feel comfortable.”
Safe Zones
“They can’t really protect you in here from rape. They got their hands
full. When you got 64 guys in one dorm and we’re all moving around ,
ones in the shower, ones in the bathroom, ones’ talking to the free man,
you know, by the time he’d know it’s [rape] done. They do a good job at
it, but there’s always times they not around certain spots if someone’s
determined to do something like that.”
Prison security and inmate safety depend on formal and informal processes of
social control. Inmates interviewed in this research perceived themselves to be the major
stakeholder in institution peace and order. This finding supports Sykes and Messinger’s
1960 research. Previous research supports our finding that inmates consent to their own
management. Inmates don’t relinquish control over their own protection by believing
that institutional systems can offer protection. Inmates invoke an analogy to free-society
crime prevention. In the free society, they reported, citizens buy home burglar alarms;

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186
however, buying such alarms does not free the police from their responsibility to
maintain social order. Inmates said they must create their own ‘rape’ detection and
physical protection systems; however, institutional formal social control mechanisms and
informal staff awareness and action must also operate. Inmates are keenly aware of selfprotection systems.
Cultural forms of vulnerability
Vulnerability to inmate sexual assault focuses on cultural metaphors of physical
and mental weakness. Thus far, narrative data analysis has exposed definitions of
strength and weakness. Inmates vulnerable to physical and sexual assault have the
following traits. Weak inmates avoid social contact. They avert their eyes when walking
the compound. They limit social interaction. They may confine themselves to the area
near their cell. They may do ‘sink baths’ rather than use an open shower. These criteria
alone signal weakness to some degree, but the single-most important criterion of
weakness rests on the absence of social support. Old-school inmates have companions or
relatives waiting for them. By contrast, inmates new to prison life may not know anyone
when they arrive. They are by cultural definition weak. How these inmates negotiate
prison social life determines in large measure how well they will do time.
Prison life embodies social interactions. The formation of social groups, such as
those noted below, organize social interactions and create inmate social structure.30
Inmates on the margin of groups have few options to connect to inmates in groups. Such
a connection requires a link between them and the group. A new inmate needs a single
social tie to slide into the mainstream social culture. Social jostling symbolizes shifts in
30

This usage refers to regular patterns of interactions.

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187
social ties. Some ties are made through sex. An affiliation with other inmates or inmate
group happens in a variety of ways. These are noted below.
Cultural Forms of Self-Protection
Inmates said they share a live-and-let-live approach to prison social life. Social
distance between inmates and staff creates social space. Operating in that social space
are social arrangements that afford inmates safety. These are called safe zones; they are
ways in which inmates take protection and safety into their hands. Some inmates
deliberately create safe zones (solitude; closeness to staff; violence; avoidance; physical
strength). Other safe zones emerge from organic social forms that would be seen even
without a potential for rape. These include families, gangs, and religious groups. Finally,
some safe zones are created by establishing same-sex relationships.
Social Isolation: Avoiding the Sex Scene
Trouble can be avoided if, said inmates, they do not put themselves in risky
situations.
“Just don’t get involved in the conversation. They have what they call
games. They call them come-on games. They might grab the guy on the
butt or say something sexual. You throw something at them to see how
they react. Don’t play the homosexual games, once it starts it gets out of
hand. If a person is not like that then a fight will erupt. Main thing is how
you carry yourself, if I go up to a man and tell him I’m gay, the next thing
you know he’s going to want me to do stuff for him, as long as I don’t tell

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188
him, they’ll leave me alone. If you feel they are trying to get you just stay
away from that person.”

“Tell them that you don’t mess around, and that you’re not interested in
it. If you isolate and do what you have to do for yourself, stay out of the
way, you won’t be involved. It’s easy to stay to yourself. Read books,
don’t bother anybody, but I don’t go out in the day room and socialize,
I’m just doing my time and getting out. I see a lot of that.”

“Stay to yourself. Get you a book, get under your radio, get off into your
own world. Here half the people I see stand to theirself. They [predators]
pay that person respect, he don’t want to be bothered.”

“Or thing, you got to keep to yourself. Don’t get into the homosexual
game. Easy to stay out of it if you don’t want to, I’ve never had any
problem. I think with women it’s different than with men. With women if
you get into the homosexuality game there’s definitely a flirty kind of
courtship dance that goes on. Kind of like flirting, a lot of the girls you
see, they flirt.”

Sexual involvement leads to bitter jealousy and squabbles and fights, and their
consequences--rejection and social isolation.

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189
“I think often times they come out of relationships where there was a lot of
abuse and that’s all they really know and they’re attracted to aggressive
females. They beat the shit out of each other all the time that’s where all
the fighting in prison is pretty much. The least little thing will set them off,
jealousy, whether they got their store.”
A straight inmate has a better chance to avoid sexual assault and involvement in
others’ problems, which could bring nothing but trouble. Closeness to friends, relatives,
and street partners offers social and emotional support.
Aggressive Postures
Violence
“Victim [of violence] is a pussy; couldn’t take care of himself. Lot of people who
can look into someone’s eyes and tell if someone’s afraid. I don’t look into
people’s eyes. I make up for it by trying to act like someone big.”
There are reported incidents of altruistic protection of young inmates, and many
examples of institutional mechanisms of safety. Social network relationships may
function as rape and violence protection. Inmates insist that an optimum form of safety
requires skilled self-protection. Some do this with violence or the image of being violent.
Narratives report that new inmates, especially whites, are ‘tested’ soon after going on the
compound. The excerpt below presents an example of being tested. The context shows
that a correctional officer watches but doesn’t intervene. Allowing the situation to
continue indicates the white inmate’s strength.

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190
“Imagine a guy coming to penitentiary. The first time, child molester or
middle-age guys. They look at this place and say, where am I. They
shrivel up and they jump when somebody’s says Boo. You don’t have
what it takes to be here. Everybody should come to maximum penitentiary
first no matter what crime it is. Max prison will make men change; smack
a dude in the mouth; make him stand up at chow; or make him wash your
dirty draws because you think you’re a piece of shit. January’ 99 came
into [UNIT NAME]. First dude said something I smacked him in my
mouth and got beat up. First time I put a shank in somebody, dudes say,
wow, he’s bad. Word and respect are only things you have in here.”

“When I first took a shower here three black guys surrounded me. One
had a broom; he told me ‘what you going to do white boy’? There’s an
officer standing right there just watching it. I was scared but I kept making
eye contact, said I’m not going to swing first. I have no clue what to do,
especially since the officer is right there, I just didn’t back down.”

“I first came in to [THIS PRISON], an older guy seen the freshness in me
and he didn’t know I sensed that [he sensed the older guy’s desire]. He
was talking sexual to me and I had to have a confrontation with him. I
had to pull a knife out on him. When you go through that, they know from
now on. After that I had no problem.”

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191
“If I was a small guy I’d get me a big knife and I would do something terrible to
the first person who tried, to make an example. No one wants to take a chance or
work for it [to fight for sex or get hurt trying to have sex]. If they thought their
target might gut them, they won’t do it. Choices are get a knife and run it up
through the guy, you’ll do a couple years in lock up but when you get out you’ll
be left alone, people will know.”

“I was 19, I turned 20 in [OTHER STATE PRISON], I already assumed I was
going to have to kill everybody there, and I went there and all my friends I grew
up with was already there. I had an attitude to survive, I jugged dudes up and did
what I had to do, no one tried to turn me out.”
Even though inmates do not feel threatened by the potential for being raped, they
do report that an actual rape and a thought of rape have an effect. Inmates may think
about rape more often, feel badly, get angry, and become more cautious and feel more
agitated; these reactions (or non-reactions through denial) influence the climate in a
prison or more specifically in the immediate area of a rape, such as a cell block or
shower.
Inmates may shower wearing their underwear, inmates said, or choose to shower
when no one else would likely to enter a car wash (an open shower area with many
shower heads). Another technique finds that some inmates shower wearing work boots to
conceal a shank. Violence and rape protection are topics found in verbal communication,
such as conversations or urban myths.

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192
Physical Strength
A body builder’s physique may offer protection. His size and strength send a
powerful message, but physical strength does not preclude a desire for sex activity
of many types.
Back in the day young victims were targets of sexual aggression, but now the
game has changed. You got big muscle-bound dudes wearing panties. Who is
going to tell this big 6’5” guy he’s not gay.
Protective Value of Partners and Companions
“What does the fag give a straight in return for protection? Sometimes there’s
just cool guys in here [straights] that don’t like to see people get taken advantage
of it, just felt like I wanted to, don’t need nothing in return.”
The most common mechanism necessary to create a safe zone requires social ties
to partners. Partners may be crime partners, former cellmates, former street companions,
and relatives--cousins and siblings or parents. If a young inmate can quickly establish
social affiliations, others do not perceive him to be weak. Thus, his vulnerability
decreases.
“There’s no safe zone if a guy’s got no partners. In a high-security prison
if a guy wants you, you gonna be had. Max joint dudes [when they] first
come in they look for someone they know. If they don’t, they in trouble.”
The next excerpt shows that recidivists have ready-made social network.
Guy comes in and goes to reception. That’s where they link up with other
groups. He knows where he fits if he’s a repeat offender.”

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193
The next excerpt illustrates that an absence of social relationships
increases an inmate’s risk of sexual violence.
“If a friend of mine was raped, I’d help him, but I've never seen it. I'm sure some
do. The problem is that most victims don’t have any friends that would, that’s why
they were a victim in the first place.”
Generally, physical safety cannot be guaranteed on a prison compound, but the
acquisition of companions can afford inmates a sense of safety. Overall, an individual’s
safety depends on personal network size. However, other factors influence the potential
effect network size has on safety. Direct social ties to groups, such as joining a religious
group, may provide rape protection, but protection depends on the nature of the group
and on the reputation of an inmate. Partnerships signal an inmate’s sociability and
strength, but no one wants to affiliate with a weak inmate.
“[Rape is] trying to make a person do something they normally wouldn’t
do, mentally physically, whatever. If he’s not gay but is weak minded he
will go for anything to be welcomed into the utopia in [THIS PRISON].
Weak minded guy will be gay or do sexual favors if they don’t have extra
money or commissary. [They’ll do] anything so they’ll be liked by a dude
who’s liked by a lot of dudes, but it don’t ever really work like that.
They’re still seen as weak.”
As this quotation illustrates, inmates’ subjective perception of others’ strength or
weakness influences the nature of inmates’ social relationships. A culturally determined
level of weakness and strength has direct effects on inmates’ reputation. Social

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194
reputation influences social network formation, which in turn increases or decreases the
risk of sexual violence.
Schooling
Coming under someone’s wing puts a weak inmate “under” the protection of an
older veteran inmate who ‘schools’ them in the ways of the prison. A protector does not
necessarily ask a young inmate to repay his protection debt with sex, commissary, cash,
or stamps. Protectors said that a young inmate’s fear reminds them of their own anxiety
and fear upon entering prison so they reach out to offer protection.
“I’ll give you an example of how [safe zones] works. After I got to
[prison], they brought this kid down there. When I come here I was an
18 year old young white kid. The older guys took me under their wing
and schooled me.”
“They gave this kid [youngster new in prison] forever. The kid looked
like he was 14 years old, was about 5’5”, 120 pounds soaking wet,
short hair no facial hair, kid couldn’t read or write. I took him up
under my wing and tried to school him and told him this is what you
got to do. Always talk back if you get pressed, fight, stab, kill, tell
them ‘you have my word’—this means I’m protecting you.”
Closeness to Staff
New inmates move physically close to staff and cultivate relationships to
encourage protection. This can be beneficial, but in prison, something good comes with a
cost. Closeness to staff can set up an inmate as a snitch and weaken his ties to peers as

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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195
they wonder why he spends so much time talking to ‘the man.’ Narratives report too that,
despite the efforts of inmates to get close, some line staff don’t care about responding to
inmates. Inmates say they “do their eight and go home.”
“He could buddy up with a correctional officer and make sure he’ll be
close by you, or buddy up with a lion to protect you.”
“To prevent being raped, some inmates get associated with staff early on,
hang out in the chapels and officers lounges, volunteer for duties that will
put them in contact with staff during the day, gardening and yard.”
Family, Friends, and Lovers: Social and Intimate Relations
Friends and family
There are a variety of reasons for establishing friendship ties. Close
friendships may be labeled with kinship terms. Sex and protection are may be
associated with such ties. However, kin terms may initially create an emotion tie
but that’s no guarantee it’ll prevent sexual aggression.
Over decades of prison research, from Ward and Kassebaum’s 1962 to
Pollock’s 2002 study, analyzes women inmates’ pseudo-families, which are
created by the application of family kin terms to non-family members; thus,
fictive kinship units are formed. Men’s studies reported fictive kin, such as
daddies and boys, but research has overlooked their socio-emotional and
protection functions.
Table 27 shows usage data on women’s kin term. For sentences of less
and more than five years served, fictive kin terms slightly decrease in use to 93.8

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196
from 95.8 percent. Over the same sentence length, men’s kin term usage
increases to 56.2 from 36.4 percent.
“[Street] women leave when men come to the institutions and get locked
up. The man caused problems to make her leave so when he comes to the
joint, the women leave, and here’s the homo coming in for [his]
companionship. Homo is his mother, wife, queen, his everything and he is
to her too. Dude is the father, big brother, and best friend to the girl.”
Table 27 Inmates’ Perception of the Use of Kinship Terms by Gender and Time Served,
5yrs.
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

7

4.9

4

4.2

3

6.3

136

95.1

91

95.8

45

93.8

No

178

53.9

89

63.6

89

46.8

Yes

152

46.1

51

36.4

101

53.2

Yes
Men

Table 28 shows among women and men that kinship term usage increases to 96.9
from 94.6 percent and to 53.9 from 40.2 percent, respectively, after 10 years served.

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197
Table 28 Inmates’ Perception of the Use of Kinship Terms by Gender and Time Served,
10yrs.
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years
%

Num

%

Women
No

7

4.9

6

5.4

1

3.1

136

95.1

105

94.6

31

96.9

No

178

53.9

113

59.8

65

46.1

Yes

152

46.1

76

40.2

76

53.9

Yes
Men

Domestic relations
Men’s family relations include daddy/boy, daddy/son, and husband/homosexual
(wife). A boy and a son are under daddy’s wing. This arrangement has economic
implications. A daddy-wife relation permits sex. They are known to “set-up house.”
Some men use the term family, some don’t. Man/boy or daddy/boy relationships are not
necessarily sexual although personal ties can lead to sex.
Daddy/Son, Daddy/Boy. A daddy schools his boy and son in the ways of prison
life and protects them. A daddy’s protection requires compensation in the form of goods
sent by a boy’s and son’s street family. The next excerpt shows that the speaker refers to
the daddy/son relation as a hustle; the daddy and son have a sexual relationship; and the
daddy controls all property. Sometimes, the terms son and boy are synonyms; boy and
kid are often interchangeable. Customarily, however, a son and his daddy have a non-

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198
sexual relation. This arrangement has an analogue in the mother/daughter relation in
women’s prison.
“Family units do exist here. An older guy befriends a younger guy it’s
called a son; he’ll be a guy that doesn’t have much, is easily influenced.
It’s not a good title to have in the pen for someone to call you son. Don’t
have a mom though. [You] wouldn’t hear the guy say ‘that’s my dad.’”
“You don’t have sex with your son, extort money though. The young guy
is like a gopher and the older guy just uses him. Sometimes it’s sexual;
then you’d hear the older dude say ‘my boy.’ Majority of time it’s not sex;
but an older guy wouldn’t call a kid his son.”

“No one will hurt you if you’re someone’s son, respecting another man’s
hand, you got to respect what he’s doing. It’s [having a boy] another
man’s hustle. Women [queens] find weaker inmates and protect them;
some mothers [queen playing mother to a boy] go for that. They’ll [boy’s
family] send stuff from the outside to keep their son safe.”

“It’s more or less like, a gay dude might have some dude but it’s not a
mom and dad role, in a sense it is, it’s either one. You do have people say
that’s my son; they take care of him and take him under their wing.”

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199
“Everywhere, it happens more than gang membership. Dudes are weak,
the son can’t own nothing; everything he get has to go to dad. He give you
what he think you need to have. We got a lot of old gramps on our block
and a lot of weak cats too. I see this all the time. Dude will say that’s my
son.”

“Out of 50 people, 20 or 25 could be in a family, they’d be sons. The sons
are not considered gay, they just considered weak. It’s not a sexual
relationship. They are worried about getting beat up, you can have all my
groceries just don’t punch me in my face.”
The next excerpt expands a daddy/son relation. Daddy takes a wife (fag)
and additional sons who are then brothers.
“Lot of guys have family that is dead or disowned him so they get involved
in a group and have [fictive] brothers and will have a fag and say this is
my broad; the fag is the sister to his brothers. Most guys in here have
compassion to kids and young people. There is no sex [among] brothers.”

“A man and punk [fag] can adopt a son; he may be an older guy or
younger guy. It’s not a good title to have in the pen for someone to call
you son. A man can turn him out [or adopt him] and have more sons and
more wives depending on the initial situation. Some women can’t stand

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200
their men going out with women. Some punks will allow their man to have
other relationships but some won’t.”
Family members are “less likely to be raped [by others], [be]cause they got a
little family now, others will leave them alone.” Such ties don’t, however, preclude intrafamily violence or in extreme cases intra-family rape.
Daddy/Fag or Daddy/Wife. These are known as domestic relations with complex
internal dynamics; if serious family violence occurs, it would most likely be in a
daddy/fag relation. A man’s wife would be his fag. The terms ho’ and bitch, in the
second excerpt below, inmates said are not derogative reference terms when used in this
context.
“A fag do what the women do; they like a stay at home mom. She take
care of the cell, make a guys food for him. Carry drugs and shanks if their
dudes are in the business, like a mule in a sense, will do whatever to keep
their man out of the hole. I’ve seen the homo stab someone just to go to
the hole to be with their man, very loyal.”

“Daddy will call his wife “my ho” or “my mommie.” I’ve seen some
pretty tough fellas, football players and wrestlers, have ho’s and they
[females] are [now] safe bitches.”
Husband/wife relations may evolve into a long-term relationship and last many
years. In the initial dating stages, violence would be unlikely. But as a couple stays
together longer, violence may likely occur as their emotional closeness transforms into an

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201
emotional entanglement of jealousy and anger. The longer a couple remains together the
more likely a man considers his wife his ‘property.’
I seen a bunch of it; couple having they problems like you would [on the
street]. It’s strange, weird stuff. You got a homosexual who acts looks and
talks like a female; he’s [husband] calling her baby this and baby that and
[she’s] jealous about him talking to another female. They [husband] get
the shit; she might throw a pot at him or something. I’ve seen weird
domestic fighting. I seen a stabbing before. They [husband/wife] really
fall in love. It’s a heck of a thing.
Domestic violence
Fictive kinship denotes inmates involved in domestic relationships. Domestic
relationships31 are short- and long-term. Short-term unions usually don’t end in violence
or rape. Relationships begin with a “feeling out” period, inmates said. During this time,
inmates decide if want a long-term relationship. A break up may occur within 30 or 60
days with no consequences. Such relations are considered short dating episodes like
those on the street. Long-term relationships—a year or more--can turn sour. When they
do, domestic violence or even rape can erupt. Sexual violence may be a cultural
possibility, albeit rare, said inmates.
Figure 4 illustrates a comparison of inmates’ perceived estimate of domestic
violence among dating inmates. These data show that 96 percent of women inmates

31

In prison speech community, the term partner has a range of meanings. For example, partner refers to
inmates who regularly walk the yard and to crime partner and other applications. Partner does not include
lovers. Inmates do not refer to domestic partners. Partners and those involved in amorous relations are
distinctive.

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202
reported the process of inmate dating. Among those women, 79.5 percent result in
violence. Men inmates reported that 67.2 percent date. Among those men, 64.4 percent
result in violence.
Figure 4 Domestic Violence among Dating Inmates
96
100

79.5

90

80

67.2

64.4

70

Percentage

60

50

40

30

20

10

0

Inmate Dating

Inmate Dating & Date Violence Domestic Violence
Men

Women

Gangs
Prison gangs, like religious groups, afford a modicum of protection. However,
protection depends on the behavior of the person seeking it. Owing debts would not
likely motivate gang or religious group companions to risk their safety and ‘freedom’
inside for someone’s self-created problems. Interview data show that religious group
affiliation, particularly membership in the Black Muslims, affords stronger protection
than gangs. Inmates ‘ride’ in a gang, inmates said, or are protected ‘under a gang
umbrella. “He’ll say that dude there belongs to the Crips or the Folks or they’ll even say
well the Aryan Nation is protecting him for financial reasons. They ain’t messing with

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203
him, but they protect him anyway.” Protection under a gang’s umbrella, inmates said, has
a street analogy but may have insidious motivations and horrible consequences for naïve
inmates who seek gang affiliation for protection. Finding safety under a gang’s umbrella
depends on how well other members like an inmate, how he ‘carries himself,’ and his
fighting ability.
“A lot of gang members tend to put umbrellas on homosexuals and
friends; same if on the street and I knew you, and because I know you if
you had a problem and knew me, nothing could happen because you knew
me. You’d tell me and I’d take care of it. They do that in here.”
Assessing the benefits of gang affiliation can be deceptive. Group affiliation also
brings exposure to sexual and economic risks. A weak inmate may look like he’s riding.
In fact, he’s actually someone’s fag, or gang members are exploiting him for his
commissary, cigarettes, soup, or money he receives from his family.
Gang-member rape. Overall, inmates said gang members are less likely to be
raped. If they are, the attacker most likely comes from the same gang.
Race and gang rape. Intra-gang rape indicates, in most cases, intra-race rape
Inter-racial gang rape (or inter-racial rape, in general, inmates said, may start a race war.
Inter-racial rape connotes racial disrespect. Gang rape was cited once as retaliation.
“The only type of rapes gangs would be ordering would be for retaliatory
purposes, it’s not a sexual act. It’s the same reason on the outside, [when
in retaliation] you’d cut a guy’s dog up and put it on [someone’s] porch.

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204
[Gangs] play a minor role. Most gangs forbid [gang-group rape]. If you
are found out they would banish you or kick the shit out of you.”

“I never seen actual gang rape; don’t see whole clique of guys doing that,
you got laws about that; if you rape someone that’s real bad. I’m the head
man of my organization, if a dude rapes a homosexual or rapes a female
it’s a physical punishment. I’ll put skull cap over the face and he’ll take 30
shots to the head. It feels like you bashing that person’s soul in by raping
them.”
Religious group affiliation
Religious-group affiliation has a range of functions.

The following excerpt

shows that, in some sense, a tough public image and religious-group membership are
mutually exclusive.
“Some dudes put up that I’m tough image, some guys go to religion, got
the Muslims, the Christians, and there’s a lot of them, been in the system
a lot time, not going to let nothing happen to another Christian.”
Inmates may interpret religious affiliation as either a hustle for protection and
easy access to the chapel or, more likely in women’s than men’s prisons, a true
emergence of religious spirituality. Chapels are commonly cited places where
homosexual relationships occur. Chapels have little supervision, thus easy access to
sexual relations. What’s more, inmates said, staff can’t prevent inmates from attending
chapel services.

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205
Interview data indicated that in order to publicly demonstrate a true religious
calling, inmates must attend all services and bible study groups, behave in religiously
appropriate ways (accepting dietary restrictions), carry a bible, and wear religious
clothing even outside public view. The devote inmate will behave this way over many
years. No one confronts an inmate’s religious hustle, inmates said, but these inmates
acquire a hustler’s reputation. They are now ‘fakers.’
“A lot of people coming through the gate with the holy bible in their hand
thinking that’s going to stop it, within a week you find out they’re not
Christians and they’re not going to church they’re using that to duck and
they’re going to flock on them. If you come in here and you’re a religious
person they’ll leave you alone.”

“I’m a very religious person now, I wasn’t until 1997, but I have a past.
God removes the desire [to have sex], he does not remove the ability. I
tell youngsters that when they get in my face, if something happens you
will have to do something and it’s something that you and God will settle
afterwards.”

“If a person is serious about religion they’re not going to be messed with
sex. Have you met [PERSONAL NAME]. He will tell you that he brought
god into the penitentiary, but he did not change this penitentiary,
[PERSONAL NAME] changed this place. [PERSONAL NAME] allowed

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206
more Christian people to come in as visitors and organizations, but he
didn’t change the penitentiary.”
The misrepresentation of a religious life may be transparent to rapists.
“Well, I heard a lot of times that most of them using the religion for
protection from the rest of the guys. The predator can just about see
through it, see who’s really down with Christian life or using that Bible to
protect them. If they are real Christians they are not bothered period,
religion gets respect from them all.”
A religious group may be a safety zone if the group has earned respect—“true”
Christians, for instance, and has membership sufficient to impose their power. Religion
may provide a spiritual foundation.
“If they see that you are going to church they will give you that respect,
they will treat you with respect. They’ll test you, ask you something about
the bible. You got some running with bibles and still in homosexual
activity. But they got old school convicts that can spot a faker a mile away
so you got to be careful. Trying to remain strong and not succumb to gay
behavior is a challenge. Some inmates use spirituality to strengthen
them.”

“Religion works, man; you need some type of spiritual foundation to
remain solid. You need God in your life. Some things are just not allowed

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207
in your circle, you won’t allow yourself to be gay if you feel like God
won’t love you if you’re gay.”
Gays and weak men in religious groups won’t be openly bullied, mocked or
picked on. Respect comes to inmates deemed religious. “The only group that would
protect even a gay or weak dude is the Muslims. They don’t care what’s wrong with their
brother, you better not do nothing to them. They deep; there’s repercussions behind that.
You have white and black Muslims; they was behind the riots [at some prison].”
If a man decides to leave a gang he may find sanctuary in a respected
religious group.
“Religion helps for anything if you have any type of problems. Like a gang
member wants to get out of a gang, if you choose religion they don’t mess
with you, I guess religion is the powerfullest thing in the pen if you walk
the walk.”
Cultural Distinctiveness among Acts of Prison Sex
The cultural synthesis of prison homosexuality derives from inmates’ subjective
perceptions of inmate sexual violence. Clemmer’s theory of culture argues that verbal
communication represents inmates’ primary channel for the acquisition of cultural
knowledge. Inmates assimilate cultural knowledge of sexual behavior independent of
actual occurrences of sexual violence. A social analysis of consensual sex, coercive sex,
and prison rape does not necessarily infer the occurrence of these behaviors.
Mutual sex, coercive sex, and rape are acts on a continuum. Each act symbolizes
a bundle of social traits. These distinctive social traits uniquely define the acts. This

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208
does not imply progressive aggression. Inmates who engage in mutual sex do not
necessarily move on to be aggressors or victims in incidents of sexual pressure. A rapist
and rape victim do not necessarily pass through incidents of mild and strong coercive sex.
Criteria overlap between types of sexual acts and mask their distinctions.
The cultural synthesis below represents mid-points in a descriptive range of
criteria attendant to sexual behavior. These summaries highlight distinctive pre-sex and
post-sex social dynamics of sexual consent vs. sexual coercion vs. prison rape.
Mutual sex
The simplest form of sexual unions focuses on economic exchange and mutual
agreement on sexual participation. Canteen goods or physical protection or socioemotional support are exchanged for sex acts. Mutual sex represents non-aggressive
seduction, a situation when both parties are fully aware of the exchange. Inmates said
“fair exchange is no robbery.” Mutual sex occurs without violence and further social
responsibility imposed mutually or unilaterally by a masculine and feminine role player.
However, there are no restrictions on a continued mutual relationship. In this sexual
union, masculine and feminine role players’ allies do not display social interest.
Degrees of sexual pressure
Sexual coercion occurs on a continuum. General aggression signals a critical
transformation from consensual to non-consensual relations. At the simple end of the
continuum, the union excludes a mutual exchange of goods or services. Mutuality gives
way to unidirectional exchange—an aggressor dominates a passive actor. Inmate culture
may still consider this sexual union seduction but seduction leans toward a more

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209
aggressive stance. In this type of pressured seduction, a passive role player may decide
to walk away without violent consequences. The aggressive and passive players have
culturally prescribed social options open to other inmates. An aggressor would not be
interpreted as a rapist. A passive player would not necessarily garner a weak reputation.
A consensual union becomes coercive when an inmate jury judges the
relationship has become aggressive. In the absence of open aggression, a passively
aggressive actor may heighten the intensity of the relationship and put added pressure on
a passive actor to engage in sex. The passive player now feels trapped and vulnerable to
physical violence even if an aggressor does not strike out. Committed to engage in sex a
passive player obtains a negative reputation and loses the freedoms available prior to the
pressured sex act. A pressured inmate cannot easily abandon the reputation accorded him
by on-lookers to the aggressive act. Allies of a pressured inmate respond to the
aggressive seduction and alienate the seduced inmate by denying their social and physical
support. An aggressive seduction leads a pressured inmate to a narrow set of social role
choices. He can try to fight his way out of a bad reputation by fighting the aggressor, or
pay off the aggressor to leave him alone, or ask for institutional protection. Unless a
pressured inmate can somehow recover a strong reputation and regain allies he remains
socially weak and physically vulnerable. Now a pressured inmate subject falls open to
the whims of stronger aggressive inmates. A pressured inmate now has no culturally
prescribed positive social options unavailable. His own economic resources fall under
restricted access by others’ desires.

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210
Sexual violence
A sexual aggressor’s violent attack would be necessary but not necessarily
sufficient to interpret a sexual attack as rape. Other rape criteria must co-occur.
Pressured sexual unions become strongly coercive sex when a number of changes occur
to female role players and his allies. When a victim fills the low status of punk or boy he
symbolically transforms into a ‘woman.’ Culturally prescriptive behavior restricts sexual
relations only to a man who governs him. He can be beaten or killed as an act culturally
justifiable within inmate society’s cultural rules on sex. There are additional
consequences as well. Sexual violence inflicted on a victim defines him as weak.
However, when a victim’s weakness transfers to his allies, they consider their
companion’s victimization an affront to their reputation. At this point, cultural
regulations on retaliation come into play. To regain his and his allies’ reputation a victim
may now attack his assailant. He may attack alone—the best case since it shows his
strength and anger over the assault. He may attack but may have back up by his allies.
This style of retaliation, while culturally available, has a less compensatory, positive
effect on a victim’s reputation. With or without back up, a victim’s reputation
diminishes. He will never again be considered strong. The option of retaliation, although
a prescribed cultural means to regain his reputation, poses high risk to a victim’s allies.
Retaliation does not elevate their status and reputation. However, it does expose them to
violence by an assailant and his allies. Instead of retaliation, a victim’s allies alienate
him.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
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211
Summary: distinctive cultural characteristics of sexual acts
Inmates’ subjective perceptions of mutual sex, coercive sex, and rape can be
summarized with culturally valid criteria. Consensual unions are not aggressive and
require a mutual exchange of sex for goods or services. Coercive unions are mildly to
strongly aggressive. Mild sexual pressure leaves an object’s social alternatives open. He
may likely remain in general population. Strongly aggressive unions cut a victim’s social
options. He can no longer remain in general population as a ‘man.’ However, he can
choose to adopt another socio-sexual role. He may choose to become someone’s wife or
may become gay. A victim now becomes metaphorically weak. He may have a few
straight allies to hang out with, but they cannot be relied upon for protection. Rape has
three cultural requirements. First, an aggressor attacks a victim. Second, a victim’s
status changes to punk. Third, a victim’s allies abandon him. A victim may retaliate
against an attacker. However, a victim’s retaliation adds additional risk to sexual assault.
A victim’s allies may assist a victim, but that would endanger them and provide them
with no material gain.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

212
CHAPTER 5. MANAGEMENT OF PRISON SEXUAL VIOLENCE
“Disease. I think that’s why rape stopped.”
Clemmer’s theory of culture was based on three assumptions. First, culture has a
supra-individual quality; this means the content and structure of knowledge persists
between generations. Second, cultural transmission relies on verbal messages. These
messages transmit cultural information to inmates. Third, cultural messages create a
socio-psychological and cultural reality. Fourth, inmates’ experiences inside and outside
prison shape their perception of and adaptation to prison social life. Assumptions three
and four culminate in an infusion of cultural knowledge. Inmates also learn to feel and
respond in ways similar to others. In this way, inmates were prisonized. Verbal
messages strongly influenced inmates’ knowledge of prison life and sexual violence.
Information they receive about incidents of prison rape may or may not correspond to
actual acts of prison sexual assault. Nevertheless, inmates perceive and respond to these
messages. Inmates may respond to messages, in the simplest form, by the simple act of
gossip and informal transmission of information to others.
Overall influence of the barrage of verbal information conveyed to and among
inmates has not been well defined. However, this and other research has shown that
verbal messages influence inmates’ perceptions of personal and institutional safety.
These messages also influence inmates’ responses to actual and potential threats of
violence. Safety zones represent a cultural response to threats of dangerousness.
Analysis has shown that inmates’ sense of fear of sexual victimization and worry about
sexual threats to their personal safety has been influenced to some degree by verbal
messages about prison rape. However, there appears to be no necessary relationship

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

213
between what inmates hear about prison rape and their level of threat and worry. There
seems to be little doubt that prison sexual assault as a category of cultural knowledge has
become a persistent, multi-generational characteristic of the supra-individual nature of
prison culture.
Inmates’ Perceptions of the Management of Inmate Sexual Behavior
Inmates’ cultural perception of sexual violence and personal and institution
safety extends beyond boundaries defined by verbal messages conveyed about inmate
sexual assault. Cultural perceptions include inmates’ subjective perceptions on the
influence of staff conduct and institution management on institution and personal safety.
Cultural knowledge data were gathered on two broad categories. The first assesses
inmates’ perceptions of prison staff and institution management of prison sexual and
sexual assault. The second category includes six questions which assess inmates’
opinions on staff-based influence of sexual conduct and institution-based practices
designed to prevent and intervene on sexual behavior and sexual violence.
Salience of cultural knowledge
Management questions measure cultural consensus. Consensus refers to the
salience (Fleisher & Harrington, 1998). Salience means shared knowledge as an
indicator of (1) cultural importance or (2) degree of shared knowledge. Clemmer’s
theory argues that different sets of peers or residence in different housing units influence
inmates’ perception of prison. The substance of inmates’ knowledge and importance of
knowledge will vary by environmental differences. Thus, correctional officers’ attempt
to prevent rape would be more salient knowledge (that is, they would know more about
it) where rape would be more likely. Inmates in high-security housing may know less

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

214
and value what they know less about rape and sex affair prevention than inmates in
inmates in dorms.
Staff Verbal Messages about Sexual Behavior and Sexual Violence
This paradigm of questions investigated the interaction of staff verbal and
behavior messages on inmates based on the assumption that staff behavioral and verbal
conduct would influence inmates’ behavioral and verbal conduct. If inmates hear staff
talk about rape inmates may be less likely to report rape. If inmates know of cases of
staff engaging in sex with inmates or raping inmates, inmates may be less likely to report
rape based on the assumption that inmates’ trust in staff would be eroded by staff
misconduct. Inmates’ reports of rape, independent of staff conduct, may be forms of
inmate-instigated staff manipulation. Women reported that false rape allegations may be
perpetrated by women inmates who are jealous over a former male staff lover’s
admiration for another inmate, or jealousy caused by gifts given to some women but not
others.
Sex does not affect quality of life on the compound. [Inmates] they play
the staff and try to sue to get money. The inmates protect the COs they
like. They blame others [COs] to keep the ones they like out of trouble.
Black girls typically play COs for money. Staff get paranoid about this
and loose trust with inmates. Officers get put on administrative leave.
Most officers that get accused are black. Staff will bribe inmates, threaten
them . . . . Girls claim staff raped [them] to get money from him. COs
has good relationship with girls; share candy, bring gum. Someone
snitches off a nice CO but girls claim some other CO did it, the one who

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

215
they didn't like. Black inmates step up COs claiming rape--staff then get
paranoid and distance themselves from inmates. Black officers are targets
of rape scam.
Table 29 compares the aggregate of men and women inmates on five management
issues. First, data show that 29.2 percent of men and 14.7 percent of women had not
heard correctional officers talk about prison rape. Second, 33.5 percent of men and 28.2
percent of women did not know cases of inmates reporting rape to officers. Third, 66.0
percent of men and 70.9 percent of women knew cases of officer-inmate sex. Fourth, 7.5
percent of men and 12.8 percent of women knew cases of officer-inmate rape. Fifth, 37.5
percent of men and 51.2 percent of women knew cases of false rape allegations against
officers.
“Yeah, inmates say they were raped to play staff. They say they were raped by a
staff member, they'd get locked up and do an investigation on a staff member, but
it’s consensual, when they don't get what they want, they tell.”

“A lot of [male] COs get walked because of relationships with [women] inmates,
more men [staff] than women. If women has sex with a CO, the CO is getting
played not the inmate. The girls tell on themselves. The girls tell another CO, the
girl goes to the hole, the CO gets under investigation. Inmates initiate the
relationship. Flirt with the COs. They tell a friend and the friend tells on them.”

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

216
Table 29 Inmates’ Perceptions of Staff Verbal Messages by Gender
Total
Num

Men
%

Num

Women
%

Num

%

*Have you heard officers talk
about rape?
No

343

74.9

233

70.8

110

85.3

Yes

115

25.1

96

29.2

19

14.7

No

296

67.9

212

66.5

84

71.8

Yes

140

32.1

107

33.5

33

28.2

No

172

32.6

128

34.0

44

29.1

Yes

355

67.4

248

66.0

107

70.9

No

431

90.0

308

92.5

123

87.2

Yes

43

9.1

25

7.5

18

12.8

No

268

58.6

205

62.5

63

48.8

Yes

189

41.4

123

37.5

66

51.2

Do you know cases of inmates
reporting rape to an officer?

Do you know cases of officers
and inmates having sex?

Do you know cases of officers
raping inmates?

Do inmates ever say they got
raped just to play staff?

* p < .001

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

217
Interviews collected a few examples of a male staff member allegedly raping a male
inmate.
“There was only one that I know of [rape] and that was at [OTHER STATE
PRISON]. They tried to establish a relationship at first and the guy [inmate]
wouldn’t do it and then he [staff] tried money, and that didn’t work so he went in
there and raped him, while he was in the hole.”
Sixty-sex percent of men inmates and 70.9 percent of women inmates reported
knowing of sex between inmates and staff. These relationships could be either same- or
cross-sex relations.
“Yes, I heard that the officer got fired. They investigated it; well he got
suspended. She ended up copping from the hole and he never came back. They
got into jackoff in the closet. She had his cum to prove that.”
Men and women inmates reported sex with same- or opposite-sex staff as an
opportunity of material gain, recreation or both.
“A cute officer comes on, the inmate will immediately be at the desk, all up in his
business and the officer will flirt back. Not all officers are fucking the inmates,
but there have been several incidents where an inmate has got the officer fired
and the officer sticks by the inmate and she goes home with him when she’s done.
It’s usually black officers going with the white girls. It’s inmate rumor. If the
prison authorities are trying to prove it, it’s really hard unless you can get the
inmate to say it, but he’s sending you money and giving you cigarettes. You not
going to give it up. Inmate approaches the officer and the officer says ‘hell yeah,

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

218
I’m the man, I’m the shit, all these bitches want to do it to me.’ In reality it’s not
really you, you just the only dick we have access to right now.”

“No, staff don’t rape inmates. There was a dude down here and he was sucking
his [officer’s] dick and he saved the sperm. That happened a couple months
before I came down. I’d let a female officer rape me though.”
Table 30 and Table 31show five issues that influence prison culture and climate.
The percentage of men and women inmates who over a period of five years heard officers
talk openly about rape jumped to 44.3 from 11.8 percent among men and to 22.0 from
11.4 percent among women. Second, men and women with more than five years served
reported an increase in inmate reports of rape to officers to 48.0 from 16.9 percent for
men and to 54.1 from 16.3 percent for women. Third, men inmates with more than five
years served reported an increase in cases of officer-inmate sexual affairs to 76.8 from
52.7 percent among men and to 82.4 percent from 65.0 percent among women. Fourth,
10.2 percent of men and 14.9 percent of women reported knowledge of officer-to-inmate
rape. Fifth, with more than five years served, allegations of false rape allegation against
staff increased to 50.8 percent from 21.1 percent among men and to 54.4 percent from
49.4 percent among women.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

219
Table 30 Men Inmates’ Perceptions of Staff Verbal Messages by Time Served-5yrs
Total

5 Years or

> 5 Years

Less
Num

%

Num

%

Num

%

*Have you heard officers talk
about rape?
No

233

70.8

135

88.2

98

55.7

Yes

96

29.2

18

11.8

78

44.3

No

212

66.5

123

83.1

89

52.0

Yes

107

33.5

25

16.9

82

48.0

No

128

34.0

80

47.3

48

23.2

Yes

248

66.0

89

52.7

159

76.8

No

308

92.5

150

95.5

158

89.8

Yes

25

7.5

7

4.5

18

10.2

No

205

62.5

116

78.9

89

49.2

Yes

123

37.5

31

21.1

92

50.8

*Do you know cases of inmates
reporting rape to an officer?

*Do you know cases of officers
and inmates having sex?

Do you know cases of officers
raping inmates?

*Do inmates ever say they got
raped just to play staff?

* p < .001

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

220
Table 31 Women Inmates’ Perceptions of Staff Verbal Messages by Time Served-5yrs
Total

5 Years or

> 5 Years

Less
Num

%

Num

%

Num

%

Have you heard officers talk
about rape?
No

110

85.3

78

88.6

32

78.0

Yes

19

14.7

10

11.4

9

22.0

No

84

71.8

67

83.8

17

45.9

Yes

33

28.2

13

16.3

20

54.1

No

44

29.1

35

35.0

9

17.6

Yes

107

70.9

65

65.0

42

82.4

No

123

87.2

83

88.3

40

85.1

Yes

18

12.8

11

11.7

7

14.9

No

63

48.8

43

50.6

20

45.5

Yes

66

51.2

42

49.4

24

54.5

*Do you know cases of inmates
reporting rape to an officer?

Do you know cases of officers
and inmates having sex?

Do you know cases of officers
raping inmates?

Do inmates ever say they got
raped just to play staff?

* p < .001
Staff Influence on Sexual Conduct and Institution Practices of Social Control
“I am not so sure that they specifically try to prevent rape. There is a real high
degree of control. You are never without direct line of sight supervision. Other

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

221
places I have been, there are anonymous kite boxes. I don’t know. I don’t know if
there is a specific way they prevent rapes from happening.”
Table 32 shows data on six management issues. First, 30.0 percent of men and
46.1 percent of women reported that transfer resolves sexual pressure. Second, 44.4
percent of men and 77.0 percent of women reported protective custody an effective
resolution to sexual pressure.
“[Administration] do take them [rapists] out if they catch them, they’ll lock them
up. The administration will do something with a dude like that.”
Third, 13.3 percent of men and 24.2 percent of women reported that rape guidelines were
not posted on bulletin boards. Fourth, 29.8 of men and 36.0 percent of women reported
that “the correctional system,” or the nature of a correctional agency or institution, can
protect them from rape.
“[Rape] doesn’t happen here. No one can prevent it but theyself, CO’s can’t
watch you all day they can’t hold your hand if it’s gonna happen it’s gonna
happen.”

“A technique officers use to prevent rape [in women’s prisons] is to put women
officers with all men officers; they never have just men; men can’t do everything
and go everywhere.”
Fifth, 49.3 percent of men and 74.4 percent of women reported that officers try to prevent
inmate sexual affairs. Sixth, 60.0 percent of men and 67.2 percent of women reported
that officers try to prevent rape.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

222
“[Rape’s] not even a threat no more, if it did happen the officers would stop it,
the majority would. In the end, yeah. I don’t think we have [officers] that would
ignore it.”

“No, I don’t think they think [rape is] a problem, they see the same thing that we
do. They see how these women portray themselves. Officers are like shit that’s on
you, you probably had it coming.”
Table 32 Inmates’ Perceptions of Management Responses by Gender
Total
Num

Men
%

Num

Women
%

Num

%

Does inmate transfer solve
problems of sexual pressure?
No

281

65.7

219

70.0

62

53.9

Yes

147

34.3

94

30.0

53

46.1

No

196

46.8

170

55.6

26

23.0

Yes

223

53.2

136

44.4

87

77.0

No

297

83.9

228

86.7

69

75.8

Yes

57

16.1

35

13.3

22

24.2

No

238

68.6

181

70.2

57

64.0

Yes

109

31.4

77

29.8

32

36.0

*If an inmate is pressured for
sex and goes to protective
custody are they safe?

Are rape guidelines posted on
bulletin boards?

Can the system protect you
from rape?

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

223
*Do officers try to prevent sex?
No

213

43.8

179

50.7

34

25.6

Yes

273

56.2

174

49.3

99

74.4

No

167

38.0

128

40.0

39

32.8

Yes

272

62.0

192

60.0

80

67.2

Do officers try to prevent rape?

* p < .001
Table 33 data show men’s perceptions of six management issues on sentences of
less and more than five years. First, men inmates’ perception on the effective use of
transfer and protective custody increases beyond from years served to 30.8 percent from
29.1 percent and 45.6 percent from 43.1 percent, respectively. Second, men’s perception
of posted rape guidelines on bulletin boards decreased to 11.6 percent from 14.9 percent.
Men’s perception of the system’s ability to protect them from rape increased to 31.5
percent from 28.2 percent. Men’s perception of officers trying to prevent inmate sexual
affairs and rape increased to 50.3 percent from 48.1 percent and 62.6 percent from 56.8
percent.
Table 33 Men Inmates’ Perceptions of Management Responses by Time Served-5yrs
Total

5 Years or

> 5 Years

Less
Num

%

Num

%

Num

%

Does inmate transfer solve
problems of sexual pressure?
No

219

70.0

100

70.9

119

69.2

Yes

94

30.0

41

29.1

53

30.8

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

224
If an inmate is pressured for sex
and goes to protective custody
are they safe?
No

170

55.6

78

56.9

92

54.4

Yes

136

44.4

59

43.1

77

45.6

No

228

86.7

114

85.1

114

88.4

Yes

35

13.3

20

14.9

15

11.6

No

181

70.2

94

71.8

87

68.5

Yes

77

29.8

37

28.2

40

31.5

No

179

50.7

82

51.9

97

49.7

Yes

174

49.3

76

48.1

98

50.3

No

128

40.0

63

43.2

65

37.4

Yes

192

60.0

83

56.8

109

62.6

Are rape guidelines posted on
bulletin boards?

Can the system protect you
from rape?

Do officers try to prevent sex?

Do officers try to prevent rape?

Table 34 data show women’s perceptions of six management issues on sentences of
less and more than five years. First, women inmates’ perception on the effective use of
transfer and protective custody increases beyond from years served to 51.4 percent from
43.8 percent and to 68.6 percent down from 80.8 percent, respectively. Second, women’s
perception of rape guidelines not posted on bulletin boards increased to 34.6 percent from
20.0 percent. Women’s perception of the system’s ability to protect them from rape
increased slightly to 36.0 percent from 35.6 percent. Women’s perception of officers

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

225
trying to prevent inmate sexual affairs and rape increased to 73.2 percent from 75.0
percent and 71.1 percent from 65.4 percent.
Table 34 Women Inmates’ Perceptions of Management Responses by Time Served-5yrs
Total

5 Years or

> 5 Years

Less
Num

%

Num

%

Num

%

Does inmate transfer solve
problems of sexual pressure?
No

62

53.9

45

56.3

17

48.6

Yes

53

46.1

35

43.8

18

51.4

No

26

23.0

15

19.2

11

31.4

Yes

87

77.0

63

80.8

24

68.6

No

69

75.8

52

80.0

17

65.4

Yes

22

24.2

13

20.0

9

34.6

No

57

64.0

41

64.1

16

64.0

Yes

32

36.0

23

35.9

9

36.0

No

34

25.6

23

25.0

11

26.8

Yes

99

74.4

69

75.0

30

73.2

No

39

32.8

28

34.6

11

28.9

Yes

80

67.2

53

65.4

27

71.1

If an inmate is pressured for sex
and goes to protective custody
are they safe?

Are rape guidelines posted on
bulletin boards?

Can the system protect you
from rape?

Do officers try to prevent sex?

Do officers try to prevent rape?

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

226

Table 35 shows men’s perceptions of six management issues on sentences of less
and more than 10 years. First, men perception on the effective use of transfer and
protective custody increased to 30.8 percent from 29.1 percent and 45.6 percent from
43.1 percent on sentences of less and more than 10 years, respectively. Second, men’s
perception of rape guidelines not posted on bulletin boards decreased to 11.6 percent
from 14.9 percent. Third, men’s perception of the system’s ability to protect them from
rape increased slightly to 31.5 percent from 28.2 percent. “Everything is the prison’s
fault. They blame their behavior and their thoughts on the prison system. A lot of men
here don’t have remorse, you hardly hear that someone is sorry. They don’t say, oh man
I messed up.” It is hardly ever heard here.” Men’s perception of officers trying to
prevent inmate sexual affairs and rape increased to 50.3 percent from 56.8 percent and
62.6 percent from 56.8 percent.
Table 35 Men Inmates’ Perceptions of Management by Time Served-10yrs
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

%

10+ Years
Num

%

Does inmate transfer solve
problems of sexual pressure?
No

219

70.0

100

70.9

119

69.2

Yes

94

30.0

41

29.1

53

30.8

No

170

55.6

78

56.9

92

54.4

Yes

136

44.4

59

43.1

77

45.6

If an inmate is pressured for sex
and goes to protective custody
are they safe?

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

227
Are rape guidelines posted on
bulletin boards?
No

228

86.7

114

85.1

114

88.4

Yes

35

13.3

20

14.9

15

11.6

No

181

70.2

94

71.8

87

68.5

Yes

77

29.8

37

28.2

40

31.5

No

179

50.7

82

51.9

97

49.7

Yes

174

49.3

76

48.1

98

50.3

No

128

40.0

63

43.2

65

37.4

Yes

192

60.0

83

56.8

109

62.6

Can the system protect you
from rape?

Do officers try to prevent sex?

Do officers try to prevent rape?

Table 36 data shows women inmates’ perception of six management issues on
sentences of less and more than 10 years. First, women’s use of the effective use of
transfer to cope with sexual pressure increase to 50.0 percent from 45.1 percent after 10
years served. Second, women perception of protective custody to handle sexual pressure
decreased to 66.7 percent from 79.8 percent after 10 years served. Third, women’s
perception of posted rape guidelines increased to 38.9 percent from 20.5 percent after 10
years. Fourth, women’s percentage that the correctional system could prevent rape
decreased slightly to 35.3 percent 36.1 percent after 10 years. Fifth, women’s percentage
that officers try to prevent inmates’ sexual affairs decreased to 63.3 percent from 77.7
percent after 10 years. Sixth, women’s perception that officers try to prevent inmate rape
increased slightly to 33.3 percent from 32.6 percent after 10 years.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

228
Table 36 Women Inmates’ Perceptions of Management by Time Served-10yrs
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

%

10+ Years
Num

%

Does inmate transfer solve
problems of sexual pressure?
No

62

53.9

50

54.9

12

50.0

Yes

53

46.1

41

45.1

12

50.0

No

26

23.0

18

20.2

8

33.3

Yes

87

77.0

71

79.8

16

66.7

No

69

75.8

58

79.5

11

61.1

Yes

22

24.2

15

20.5

7

38.9

No

57

64.0

46

63.9

11

64.7

Yes

32

36.0

26

36.1

6

35.3

If an inmate is pressured for sex
are they safe in protective
custody?

Are rape guidelines posted on
bulletin boards?

Can the system protect you from
rape?

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

229

Do officers try to prevent sex?
No

34

25.6

23

22.3

11

36.7

Yes

99

74.4

80

77.7

19

63.3

No

39

32.8

30

32.6

9

33.3

Yes

80

67.2

62

67.4

18

66.7

Do officers try to prevent rape?

Visualizations of Inmates’ Perceptions of Key Management Issues
“[Pressed for sex?] Depends. Some [officers] might laugh in their face or
might bring them down to the warden and major.
Clemmer’s theory of supra-individual culture posits that inmates’ perceptions of
management’s attempts to improve institutional safety are unlikely to occur rapidly or at
all, to any significant degree. Cultural attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions change slowly.
Seventy years of prison culture and sex culture research has cited repeatedly a core array
of findings about prison culture and inmates’ sexual behavior. Inmates’ too have
reported similar beliefs and attitudes about prison sexual behavior over decades of
research. Such findings offered by both inmates and researchers support Clemmer’s
theory of supra-individual culture.
Inmates’ subjective impressions of prison sexual violence are lodged in inmate
culture. These impressions are transmitted to generation after generation of inmates. It
seems that ‘new’ information slowly enters inmates’ trans-generational cultural system.
If institution culture changes with safety innovations, inmate culture has no mechanism to
test the difference between “real” and “reported” information in verbal messages. Thus,

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

230
as administrative and managerial innovations try to enable safer prisons, inmates’
perceptions of changes in institution safety may reflect what inmates have heard but not
necessarily what they see.
Correctional Practice Recommendations
Prison researchers over many decades posited potential innovations to
enhance inmate quality of life by reducing the risk of sexual assault. Often
however, recommendations suggested general organizational innovations often
difficult to directly link to sexual-assault reduction.
Correctional practice recommendations made over the past 30 years share
similar approaches. These are: improve staff hiring to include more staff with
professional attitudes; train line staff more comprehensively; and improve on-thejob training and line-staff supervision. These and similar recommendations fall
within the prevue of finding of this research.
There are analytic approaches that may likely reduce inmate violence by
targeting specific causes and conditions of non-sexual and sexual violence. Figure
5 illustrates the analysis of inmate perceptions about institution safety shown in
Table 37.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

231
Figure 5 Graph of Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional System’s Ability to Protect
Inmates from Rape by Gender and Time Served-5yrs, 10yrs

Perceived Agreement on Correctional System's Ability to
Protect Inmates from Rape

40

36

35.9

36.1

35.3
33.3

35

31.5
28.2

27.8

30

25

20

15

10

5

0

Men

Women

Table 37 assesses inmates’ perceptions of institution safety and rape
protection among inmates who have served less and more than five years.
Women’s and men’s levels of perceived agreement are similar controlling for
gender and sentence length. Among men and women who have served less than
five years, 35.9 percent among women and 28.2 percent among men agree that
correctional system can protect them against rape. Among men and women who
have served more than five years, women reported 36.0 percent agreement and
31.5 percent men reported agreement. A consensus, albeit low, controlling for
time served and gender suggests a culturally influenced response: interpreted by
Clemmer’s supra-individual theory these responses suggest that, independent of

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

232
correctional agencies’ actual ability to protect inmates, inmate culture has low
consensus agencies’ ability to protect them from rape.
Table 37 Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional System’s Ability to Protect Inmates from
Rape by Gender and Time Served-5yrs.
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

57

64.0

41

64.1

16

64.0

Yes

32

36.0

23

35.9

9

36.0

No

181

70.2

94

71.8

87

68.5

Yes

77

29.8

37

28.2

40

31.5

Men

Table 38 shows men and women inmates’ do not perceive a correctional
systems’ ability to protect them from rape for sentences served under and over 10
years. The levels of agreement for men and women are similar by gender.
Among men and women with less than 10 years served, 36.1 percent of women
and 27.8 percent of men; and 35.3 percent of women and 33.3 percent of men
who have served more than 10 years agree that correctional agencies can protect
them from rape.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

233
Table 38 Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional System’s Ability to Protect Inmates from
Rape by Gender and Time Served- 10yrs.
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years
%

Num

%

Women
No

57

64.0

46

63.9

11

64.7

Yes

32

36.0

26

36.1

6

35.3

No

181

70.2

117

72.2

64

66.7

Yes

77

29.8

45

27.8

32

33.3

Men

Inmates’ lack of confidence in institution protection may be linked to many
conditions affecting low confidence in institution safety. Data show that inmate debts
lead to violence; that inmates have a low level of confidence in institution transfers as a
means to prevent or intervene on situations of sexual pressure; and that protective
custody, while trusted to protect inmates to some degree, especially among women, falls
short of creating inmate confidence in institutional safety. Integrated analysis of, for
instance, commissary expenditures, incident reports, transfers, and residence unit
supervision may shed light on this complex relationship.
Commissary Expenditure Analysis
Inmate interview data indicated that sexual and non-sexual exploitation may occur
when only some inmates have financial support to those who don’t, threaten and exploit
those who do. An inmate explains the commissary spending system.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

234
“It starts out with the Level One system. The sexual predator uses the level
one system to his advantage. Each prisoner comes in and starts at a low
level. He has to work his way up to buy a TV and go to the store and buy
commissary. They start at 0 and can only spend $10 per month, they have
no money and can't buy anything. All their assets and needs like soap and
shampoo, they have troubles buying even their needs. It helps the
predators, they can offer these things for sex, real simple. They don't have
to rape anyone in prison, all you have to do is have money, very little
money.”
An expenditure analysis could identify saving levels for all inmates. They could
be divided into low, moderate, and high levels of saving and no savings. Inmates with no
or low amounts of saving may be classified as high or moderate risk of physical, sexual
exploitation of those with moderate and high savings. Such an analysis could be coupled
with inmates’ spending history in two ways. First, high-savings level inmates may start
to spend more money more if they are exploited. Second, inmates who had no savings
and who suddenly are flush are likely to have exploited a peer’s family, threatening
violence against a family member if money isn’t deposited into their commissary
account. Commissary expenditure analysis should be linked to incident report analysis.
Incident Report Analysis
Perhaps one of the most pervasive inmate explanations for sexual violence links
violence to debts.
“If you’re playing spades and you lose real bad, $15 or something or
more, the person you owe it to will probably sit down and talk to you, say I

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

235
don’t need the $15, what I really want is head and I’ll wash all the debt
off, and they’ll be like okay.”
“The way inmates do drugs influences if a dude is homosexual or is raped.
If he has a big drug debt, he’s in trouble and sex may get him out it.
There’s harsh people in here.”

“Old time booty bandits would lend thing to guys to a point where they
can’t pay it back and would then collect in other ways.”
There are rather straightforward ways to test such reports. First, an affiliation
analysis of all inmates cited could be done on all violations. The management research
could focus on the identification of inmates who’ve been cited over time for different
types of violent and non-violent offenses. If an inmate was cited for gambling and then
cited for stealing someone’s radio this inmate stands at high risk of engaging in additional
violation, perhaps sexual. There may also be other inmates in the same or different
housing area who engage in similar behavior. A management research question asks if
frequently cited inmates are linked to one another in direct relationships such as
friendships or crime partnerships or in indirect relationships, that is, they are linked
through shared companions. Two or more inmates linked via one or more incident
should be known as high-risk inmates.
Second, incident reports of all violent acts should be analyzed in a similar way at
3, 6, 9, and 12 month intervals. The research would determine if (1) the inmates who
didn’t know each other became linked via a violent episode and then together committed
a violent act together and (2) if one or more inmates kept appearing at the site of sexual

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

236
and non-sexual violent act. Sexual and non-sexual acts of violence can be analyzed by
cited perpetrator(s), witnesses, and bystanders; if such data aren’t collected, an inventory
of inmates linked to every violent incident could be created and maintained. Sexually
violent inmates who weren’t apprehended and haven’t been reported may be identified
via their network of ties to those who were perpetrators, witnesses or bystanders. Then
too sexually violent inmates may operate independently and have no companions whose
identify was noted at violent events. Or sexually violent actors may operate
independently and have no common social ties to anyone previously cited. Understanding
the relationships between and among violent offenders and others linked to acts of
violence by virtue of their proximity to such events could provide prison investigators
with powerful analytic tools based on relatively simple data collect techniques.
Housing-unit Supervision
Table 39 data assess three management issues by housing type among men
inmates. Double-celled men inmates at a level of 50.0 percent reported knowledge of
more reported rape cases than inmates in single-cells and dorms, 29.7 and 22.2 percent,
respectively. Men inmates housed in single cells and dorms reported that inmates filed
false rape allegations against staff at 36.4 percent and 32.2 percent, respectively. Men
inmates in single- and double-cells and dorms reported not knowing of officers raping
inmates, 5.8 percent, 13.0 percent, and 4.5 percent, respectively.
“Inmate would mostly likely get raped in a two person room; they can't
rape you in the dorm, all open. Inmate would help stop the rape.”
“Not no more a force thing, you can talk them into turning themselves out,
unless you in the cell block, you can still rape there, you got a cellmate.”

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

237
“Back in the cell block, you more secluded, you in a cell with a man and if
you weak he can take advantage of you with out nobody seeing.”
“I don’t think it [rape] would occur in the dorm, something like that
would occur in the block, there are two to a cell.”
Table 39 Men Inmates’ Perceptions of Staff Management by Housing Type
Total

Single
Num

Double
%

Num

Dorm

Num

%

%

Num

%

No

211

66.6

78 70.3

49 50.0

84 77.8

Yes

106

33.4

33 29.7

49 50.0

24 22.2

No

306

92.4

114 94.2

87 87.0

105 95.5

Yes

25

7.6

No

203

Yes

123

*Do you know cases of
inmates reporting rape
to an officer?

Do you know cases of
officers raping inmates?

7

5.8

13 13.0

5

4.5

62.3

75 63.6

54 55.1

74 67.3

37.7

43 36.4

44 44.9

36 32.7

Do inmates ever say
they got raped just to
play staff?

* p < .001

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

238
Table 39 and Table 40 data show that men and women inmates in single-cells and
dorms reported knowing of inmate reports of rape at approximately the same rate, 29.7
and 22.2 percent, and 28.1 and 28.3 percent, respectively. Table 4032 data show that
women inmates housed in double cells reported a much higher rate of false rape
allegations than inmates housed single cells and dorms.
Table 40 Women Inmates’ Perceptions of Staff Management by Housing Type
Total

Cell
Num

Dorm

Num

%

%

Num

%

No

84

71.8

46 71.9

38 71.7

Yes

33

28.2

18 28.1

15 28.3

No

123

87.9

64 87.7

59 88.1

Yes

17

12.1

9 12.3

8 11.9

No

62

48.4

29 43.3

33 54.1

Yes

66

51.6

38 56.7

28 45.9

Do you know cases of inmates reporting
rape to an officer?

Do you know cases of officers raping
inmates?

Do inmates ever say they got raped just
to play staff?

Inmates know staff flirt and have sex with inmates. Interviews show that affairs
take time to establish and maintain. A male correctional officer may supervise a woman’s
dorm or a woman officer may supervise a man’s dorm over 3, 6, or 9 month periods.
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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

239
This amount of time allows for personal relationships to blossom, said inmates. Inmates
suggested that correctional officers should be transferred at short intervals with brief
notification of transfer date. Some officers might be transferred monthly, others
bimonthly, others quarterly. Interview data shows inmates’ dependence on interacting
with the same officers. A combination of staff and inmates in the same context over time
may create a safety hazard. Officer assignment shifts at regular, albeit random intervals,
may reduce inmates’ false sexual allegations against officers.
There are four consequences of flirtatious and sexual affairs between staff and
inmates. First, once inmates hear or see a relationship between an officer and inmate,
some inmates wait their turn to exploit the same officer, inmates said. Women inmates
commented:
“If I know that my friend is mess with an officer, a lot will try to frame
them. They will say bring me cigarettes or I will report you.”
“If another inmate know they tell, they’d be jealous why you get to eat free
food I want some to. You give me a chain I won’t say nothing, they’ll try to
bribe or black mail the person.”
Men inmates commented:
“Some try to get some too, and use blackmail. Some may come straight up
to ask for contraband in exchange for not telling.”
“If he’s sharp enough, a dude could blackmail that officer to bring
something to him. That’s something I’d do.”

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

240
Second, inmates become jealous when a staff member brings gifts to his/her
inmate girl or boy friend. Jealousy may engender open hostility between women inmates
and closed hostility toward the staff member. Hostility may lead to filing false rape
allegations against the staff member who, an inmate believes, slighted or embarrassed
her. Women inmates commented:
“They say they were raped by a staff member, they'd get locked up and do
an investigation on a staff member, but it’s consensual, when they don't
get what they want, they tell.”
“Up in [OTHER STATE PRISON] one of the girls supposedly had sex
with an officer before this prison was here, they said she had it willingly
she filed charges for rape and got a cell movement.”
A male inmate commented:
“Oh yeah. I’ve had friends I’ve known had sex with a guy [staff] and put it
[semen] in something so he can bag it up and then he runs to the laws and
claim rape. Having sex then don’t like it anymore and claim rape.”
Third, interview data suggest that inmates lose trust and respect for officers who violate
conduct rules either by engaging in illicit sex with inmates, smuggling goods, or other
violations. Sexual and other types of misconduct, including smuggling goods to inmates,
weaken the trust between staff and inmates. The culturally prescribed “professional”
social distance between staff and inmates increases, inmates reported, as trust decreases.
Men inmates commented:
“Say about 30% of staff try to do the right thing but it’s hard to do the
right thing if others violate the rules.”

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

241
“I’m sure they must have rules on paper but it isn’t worth a damn unless
it’s enforced.”
Fourth, inmates reported that honest and diligent line staff who are vested in
their career drift away from ‘dirty’ staff; more data are needed on this topic as well. Over
time, inmates said, honest officers shift posts and move away from a dirty officer or
officers. These post transfers, inmates said, likely result in a station with two, three, or
four dirty officers as supervisors.
“I think they sort of turn on that officer they’ll talk openly about that
officer they lose trust in that officer and they’ll kid around with inmates
about that officer, that officer is doomed in that prison if that goes on.”
Focused shakedowns
The objective of sex with staff, as inmates see it, focuses on material gain.
Women inmates said dirty staff smuggle jewelry, perfume, and even specialized food,
including, said some inmates, fast-food burgers. Women inmate commented:
“Yes, I hear inmates talking about sex with staff. She had to have sex to
get the chain that’s on their neck, had to have sex to get the bubble gum or
earrings that they got in their ear or fingernail polish.”
Male inmate commented:
“Hey get anything they want, I mean anything, they want drugs, booze,
whatever, they get it. These old homosexual guards that work here; the
young homosexuals will play them out of anything they got I’ve seen them
play them out of their whole paycheck.”

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

242
Shakedowns should focus on finding weapons and on spotting clothing, shoes,
earrings, and perfume today that weren’t there two weeks ago. Jewelry is a prized
commodity. Jewelry inventory database could track jewelry received by individual
inmates. Officers who aren’t assigned to a shakedown unit could match in-cell jewelry
inventories to the inventory records. A careful record of possessions checked after
random periods might be an effective deterrent for both inmates and staff.
Observation logs
A unit of 65 inmates will have tens of hundreds of interactions daily, but all
inmates don’t socialize among one another. Line-staff training could teach them how to
record persistent associations among inmates, such as observing two or three men who
frequently go to the yard together. Straightforward techniques, such as spot sample, time
sample, and focus sample, could provide invaluable data at low cost. A spot sample
would look at association of inmates at the same spot at different times. A time sample
would record interactions, such as every evening and morning at seven thirty. A focus
sample would record associations of, for example, high-risk inmates, identified with
above techniques, at random and fixed times. Systematic observation (with or without
interviews) would provide intelligence data and would directly or indirectly let inmates
know they’re being watched.
Analysis of Inmates’ Management Perceptions
Inmate Orientation
Inmates’ perceptions of institution management strategies provide a gendered
analysis useful in strengthening staff and inmate institution orientation. In this section a

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

243
graphic display of management data analysis illustrates men and women inmates’
perceptions over time on six management strategies: posted guidelines on sexual assault
procedures; correctional system’s ability to keep inmates safe; correctional officers’
ability to prevent inmate sex; and correctional officers’ ability to prevent inmate rape.
Inmates’ said that new-inmate orientation reinforced their fear that sexual assault was
almost inevitable. They also said that inmate orientation was ineffective, because it
relied on the use of an inmate handbook to acquaint inmates with institutional policies
and practices. Given that a majority of inmates are illiterate or have low reading levels or
have no interest in reading, an orientation handbook would most likely fail to effectively
distribute information on, for example, sexual coercion.
Written Sexual Pressure Guidelines
Figure 6 graphs data in Table 41 and Table 42. These data show inmates’
agreement on whether institutions posted sexual assault guidelines. Analysis shows that
men and women with less than five years served uniformly agree that guidelines were not
posted.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

244
Figure 6 Graph of Inmates’ Perceptions of Posted Rape Guidelines by Gender and Time
Served-5yrs, 10yrs

38.9

Perceived Agreement on Posted Sexual Assault
Guidelines

40

34.6
35

30

25

20.5

20
20

15.7

14.9
11.6

15

9.3
10

5

0
<5

>5

<10

>10

Sentence Served, in Years
Men

Women

Table 41 Inmates’ Awareness of Institutions Posted Sexual Pressure Guidelines by
Gender and Time Served-More or Less than 5 Years
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

228

86.7

114

85.1

114

88.4

Yes

35

13.3

20

14.9

15

11.6

No

69

75.8

52

80.0

17

65.4

Yes

22

24.2

13

20.0

9

34.6

Men

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

245
Table 42 Inmates’ Awareness of Institutions’ Posted Sexual Pressure Guidelines by
Gender and Time Served-More or Less than 10 Years
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years
%

Num

%

Women
No

228

86.7

140

84.3

88

90.7

Yes

35

13.3

26

15.7

9

9.3

No

69

75.8

58

79.5

11

61.1

Yes

22

24.2

15

20.5

7

38.9

Men

*p < .001
A woman inmate commented:
“There’s a sexual harassment flyer everywhere with the 1- 800 number
you’re not allowed to call. We’re not allowed to call any 1-800 numbers
but it’s posted.”
Men inmates commented:
“Somewhere in the R&R, like here at check in they have a little
orientation thing of safe sex and stuff like that and there might have been
something about rape, but I didn’t really pay attention to that I don’t feel
I’m in danger of something like that and I know I’m not going to rape
anyone so I don’t think about it or dwell on it.”

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

246
“Having rape guidelines is kind of like a fire extinguisher. First you got to
have a fire.”
Male: I haven’t even looked.
Correctional Officers Talk about Prison Rape
Figure 7 shows that 11.8 and 11.4 percent of men and women inmates with less
than five years served overheard officers openly discuss rape. However, men inmates
who have served more than five years show a dramatic increase to 44.3 percent who’ve
overheard officers discuss rape. Data do not indicate the content of what inmates heard
and where and when they heard it. Nevertheless, verbal culture has the power to
influence inmates’ attitudes and beliefs.
Figure 7 Graph of Inmates’ Agreement on Hearing Officers Talk about Rape by Gender
and Time Served-5yrs
44.3

Perceived Agreement on Inmates Hearing
Officers Talk Openly about Rape

45

40

35

30

22
25

20

11.8

11.4

15

10

5

0

< 5 Years

> 5 Years
Sentence Served, in Years
Men

Women

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

247
Inmates Reporting Rape to Correctional Officers
Figure 8 shows the percentage of men and women inmates with less than five
years served who were aware of inmates reporting rape to officers was relatively
infrequent, 16.9 and 16.3 percent, respectively. However, men who have served more
than five years showed a dramatic increase to 48.0 percent from 16.9 percent in
awareness of rape reports to officers.
Figure 8 Graph of Inmates’ Agreement on Knowing about Inmates Reporting Rape to an
Officer by Gender and Time Served-5yrs
48

Perceived Agreement on Inmates Reporting
Rape to Officers

50
45
40
35
30
25

16.9

16.3

16.3

20
15
10
5
0

< 5 Years

> 5 Years
Sentence Served, in Years
Men

Women

Some inmates are afraid to report rape.
“No, they’re afraid of being labeled as a snitch or something like that.”

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

248
“Yes, put them on investigation and let them both out. In [OTHER STATE
PRISON], they were both put into the hole and then transferred them both
out to different facilities.”
Correctional Officer-Inmate Sexual Affairs
Figure 9 analysis shows that men and women inmates increase their agreement on
knowing of staff-inmate sexual relationships over time served. Men inmates’ agreement
increases to 76.8 percent from 52.7 percent, and women’s, to 82.4 from 65.0 percent.
Figure 9 Graph of Inmates’ Agreement on Knowing of Inmate-Officer Sexual Affairs by
Gender and Time Served-5yrs

Perceived Agreement on Inmate-Officer Sexual
Affairs

82.4
90

76.8

80

65

70

52.7
60

50

40

30

20

10

0

< 5 Years

> 5 Years
Sentence Served, in Years
Men

Women

Correctional Officers Ability to Prevent Inmate Sexual Affairs
Figure 10 shows men and women inmates’ perceived agreement on correctional
officers’ trying to prevent inmate sexual relationships. Women inmates agree to a greater

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

249
extent that correctional officers’ try to prevent inmate sexual affairs, however men
inmates don’t. Men’s agreement remains consistently at approximately 50 percent over
sentenced served. Women’s agreement hovers at or about 75 percent and drops to 63.3
percent among women who served over 10 years.
Figure 10 Graph of Inmates Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Prevent
Inmates’ Sexual Affairs by Gender and Time Served-5yrs, 10yrs

80

75

73.2

77.7

Perceived Ability of Correctional Officers
to Prevent
Inmate Sexual Affairs

70

63.3

60

48.1

50.3

48.6

50.3

50

40

30

20

10

0
<5

>5

<10

>10

Sentence Served, in Years
Men

Women

Table 43 shows that 74.4 percent of women and 49.3 percent of men inmates
who’ve served less than five years perceive that correctional officers try to prevent rape.
The percentage decreases for women to 73.2 percent and increases for men to 50.3
percent.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

250

Table 43 Inmates Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Prevent Inmates’
Sexual Affairs by Gender and Time Served-5yrs.
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

34

25.6

23

25.0

11

26.8

Yes

99

74.4

69

75.0

30

73.2

No

179

50.7

82

51.9

97

49.7

Yes

174

49.3

76

48.1

98

50.3

Men

Table 44 shows that 77.7 percent of women and 48.6 percent of men inmates
who’ve served less than 10 years perceived that correctional officers try to prevent rape.
The percentage decreases for women to 63.3 percent and remains constant for men to
50.3 percent who’ve served more than 10 or more years.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

251

Table 44 Inmates Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Prevent Inmates’
Sexual Affairs by Gender and Time Served- 10yrs.
Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years
%

Num

%

Women
No

34

25.6

23

22.3

11

36.7

Yes

99

74.4

80

77.7

19

63.3

No

179

50.7

107

51.4

72

49.7

Yes

174

49.3

101

48.6

73

50.3

Men

Correctional Officers’ Trying to Prevent Inmate-on-Inmate Rape
“Snitches are every where. Sexual assault is not common. If there were rape,
someone would know in three minutes. [Rapist] knows women were raped as
children. She feels that this may be why they are gay. [There’s] a lot of domestic
violence . . . pull hair, punch them, kick them on the bleachers. Jealousy is very
prevalent. Old timers stop this. Cameras, staff walking, snitches everywhere--if
there were rape, someone would know.”

Figure 11 illustrates inmates’ perceived agreement that correctional officers have an
ability to prevent inmate-on-inmate rape. Men’s agreement hovers at or near 60 percent,
while women’s ranges to 71.1 from 65.4 percent.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

252

Figure 11 Graph of Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Protect

Perceived Agreement on Officers Trying to Protect Inmates from
Rape

Inmates from Rape by Gender and Time Served-5yrs, 10yrs

80

71.1
67.4
65.4

70

62.6

66.7
60.6

59.6
56.8
60

50

40

30

20

10

0
<5

>5

<10

>10

Sentence Served, in Years

Table 45 shows that 65.4 percent of women and 56.8 percent of men inmates
who’ve served less than five years perceived that correctional officers try to prevent rape.
The percentage increases for women to 71.1 percent and for men to 62.6 percent who’ve
served more than five or more years.
Table 45 Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Prevent Inmate-onInmate Rape by Gender and Time Served-5yrs.
Total
Num

5 or less Years
%

Num

%

> 5 Years
Num

%

Women
No

39

32.8

28

34.6

11

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

28.9

253
Yes

80

67.2

53

65.4

27

71.1

No

128

40.0

63

43.2

65

37.4

Yes

192

60.0

83

56.8

109

62.6

Men

Table 46 shows that 67.4 percent of women and 59.6 percent of men inmates
who’ve served less than 10 years perceived that correctional officers try to prevent rape.
The percentage decreases for women to 66.7 percent and increases for men to 60.6
percent who’ve served more than 10 or more years.
Table 46 Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Trying to Prevent Inmate-onInmate Rape by Gender and Time Served-10yrs.

Total
Num

< 10 Years
%

Num

10 + Years
%

Num

%

Women
No

39

32.8

30

32.6

9

33.3

Yes

80

67.2

62

67.4

18

66.7

No

128

40.0

76

40.4

52

39.4

Yes

192

60.0

112

59.6

80

60.6

Men

Figure 12 shows that men and women inmates’ agreement that correctional
officers try to prevent inmate-on-inmate rape and inmate sexual affairs. Women’s
agreement on correctional restraints on both types of sexual behavior remains

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

254
consistently higher than men’s over time served. Women inmates’ agreement on
correctional officers’ ability to prevent inmate sexual affairs over 5 and under 10 years
ranging to 77.7 from 75.0 percent, but men’s ranges from 48.1 to 50.3 percent. Notably,
women’s agreement drops to 63.3 from 66.7 percent after 10 or more years served.
Women’s decrease may conceivably be related to correctional culture’s32 granting lifers
and others with very long sentences less sexual restriction.
Figure 12 Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Ability to Prevent Inmate

Perceived Agreement on Correctional Officers
Ability to Prevent Inmate Sexual Affairs and
Inmate Rape

Sexual Affairs and Inmate Rape by Gender and Time Served-5yrs, 10yrs

77.7
80

75

73.2

71.1
65.4

70

60

67.4

66.7
63.3

62.6

60.6
59.6

56.8

48.1

50.3

50.3
48.6

50

40

30

20

10

0

Rape

Rape

Rape

Rape

Sex

Sex

Sex

Sex

5yrs or
Less

5yrs+

10yrs or
Less

10yrs+

5yrs or
Less

5yrs+

10yrs or
Less

10yrs+

Sentenced Served, in Years
Men

Women

32

This reduction may be an example of Clemmer’s theory of supra-individual cultural transmission, and
not a deliberate supervision decision by correctional staff to reduce supervisory restrictions; rather the
emphasis here rests on how correctional culture has selected to adapt to inmates’ sentence length and
sexual behavior. Selection refers to a “cultural” approach to emphasize sexual supervision among inmates
with less time served.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

255
Table 47 shows the mean level of agreement for rape prevention for men and
women inmates increases to 66.85 percent, more than five years served, from 61.1, less
than five years. The highest mean level of rape prevention agreement, 66.86 percent,
occurs in the five-plus years served category. Sexual-affair prevention reaches its highest
level of agreement, 63.15 percent, in the less than 10 years served category, which
measures slightly lower than rape prevention agreement, 63.5 percent, in the same time
category.
Table 47 Mean Level of Inmates’ Perceptions of Correctional Officers’ Ability to
Prevent Inmate-on-Inmate and Inmate Sexual Affairs by Gender and Time Served-5yrs,
10yrs

Sex

Rape
5 Years

5+

10

10+

5 Years

5+

10

10+

or Less

Years

Years

Years

or Less

Years

Years

Years

or Less

or Less

Men

56.8

62.6

59.6

60.6

48.1

50.3

48.6

50.3

Women

65.4

71.1

67.4

66.7

75

73.2

77.7

63.3

Mean

61.1

66.85

63.5

63.65

61.55

61.75

63.15

56.8

Correctional Officer-on-Inmate Sexual Assault

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

256
Figure 13 shows that men and women inmates share a perceived agreement on knowing
few cases of staff-inmate rape. Over time served men’s perceived agreement increase to
10.2 from 4.5 percent, while women’s, to 14.9 from 11.7 percent.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

257
Figure 13 Graph of Inmates’ Agreement on Knowing of Officer-Inmate Rape by Gender
and Time Served-5yrs

14.9

Perceived Agreement on Officers Raping
Inmates

16

14

11.7
10.2

12

10

8

4.5
6

4

2

0

< 5 Years

> 5 Years
Sentence Served, in Years
Men

Women

Inmates’ False Rape Allegations against Correction Staff
While inmates reported a consistently low level of agreement on
correctional officers’ sexual assault on inmates, data on false allegations of rape
against staff emerge in stark contrast. Figure 14 analysis shows that men and
women inmates perceived at a high level of agreement that inmates issue false
rape allegations against staff. Women with less than five years served reached a
49.2 percent level of agreement whereas men at the same time served stand at
21.1 percent. However, men’s agreement increases sharply with time served to
50.8 percent. Women’s agreement increases as well though slightly, to 54.5
percent.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

258
Figure 14 Graph of Inmates’ Agreement on Knowing of Inmates’ False Allegations of
Rape against Correctional Officers by Gender and Time Served-5yrs

54.5
50.8

Perceived Agreement on Inmates' False
Allegations of Rape Against Correctional Staff

60

49.4
50

40

30

21.1

20

10

0

< 5 Years

> 5 Years
Sentence Served, in Years
Men

Women

Executive Summary
The goal of this research was a nation-wide study of the culture of prison-inmate
sexual violence. The principal investigators at the behest of the National Institute of
Justice conducted a socio-cultural study of prison sexual violence in men’s and women’s
high-security prisons across the United States. A multi-disciplinary advisory panel
composed of prominent scholars and correctional practitioners contributed to research
design and methodology.
This study’s qualitative methodology collected interview data in comprehensive
semi-structured interviews. These interviews allowed inmates to freely express their
subjective perceptions on sexual violence. The interview instrument was culturally
sensitive and pre-tested in men’s and women’s prisons. A systematic sampling design for

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

259
this study selected 564 inmate participants (408, male; 156, female) in 30 prisons in 10
states. Strict procedures protected the anonymity and confidentiality of prisons and
inmate participants.
Inmate participants were experienced in prison life. At the time of their
interview, 66.3 percent of men and 46.3 percent of women served more than 60 months;
63.1 percent of men and 35.1 percent of women had already served more than 120
months. Race and ethnic categories distributed across the sample were 46.8 percent
black, 40.2 percent white, 9.9 percent Hispanic, and 3.0 percent other. Prior to their
imprisonment, 22.4 percent of male inmates, and 25.8 percent of women inmates selfreported gay or bisexual relationships.
Analysis showed that women inmates perceived that 59.7 percent of the other
inmates in their prisons were gay and 11 percent were “on the down low” (practiced
socially hidden same-sex relations). Men inmates perceived that 14.8 percent were gay,
and 27.5 percent were “on the down low.” Additionally, in their respective prisons,
women and men inmates were asked for their subjective estimate on homosexual
behavior. Women inmates perceived that 70.7 percent of inmates, and men inmates
perceived that 42.3 percent of inmates, engaged in homosexual conduct.
Inmates were asked for their –subjective estimate on sex-related prison
management issues. Sixty-six percent of men inmates and nearly seventy-one percent of
women inmates reported they were aware of inmate-staff mutual sex relationships.
Collectively, 9.1 percent of men and women inmates reported they were aware of a case
of an inmate raped by a staff member. Among men and women inmates, respectively,
33.5 percent and 28.2 percent indicated they knew of inmate reported rape to staff.

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

260
Nearly thirty-eight percent of men and 51.2 percent of women knew of false rape
allegations against staff.
Inmate safety analysis had qualitative and quantitative findings. A majority of
inmates reported that inmates’ safety—protection from physical and sexual assault, was
the personal responsibility of inmates, independent of institution efforts to protect them.
Regardless of these personal perceptions, 28.2 percent and 31.5 percent, respectively,
reported that a correctional system’s policies and procedures can protect them against
rape. Men and women inmates reported on average that 56.8 percent and 62.5 percent,
respectively, of correctional officers try to protect them against rape. Five percent of
women and 22.0 percent of men reported they were certain that at least one rape occurred
in an institution they were housed in their life-time experience of imprisonment. Nine
percent of women inmates and 21.3 percent of men inmates reported some worry or sense
of threat caused by a potential rape. Inmates reported they did not fear imminent rape.
However, they acknowledged such behavior may occur.
This study conducted a culturally sensitive analysis of prison inmates’ subjective
perceptions of prison sexual violence. Prison socialization gave them a shared body of
cultural knowledge and rules of behavior on social-sexual conduct and sexual violence.
The qualitative analysis of hundreds of hours of interview data had six major findings.
First, inmate culture has a complex system of beliefs and norms on sexual
conduct. Beliefs and norms in concert with numerous social and economic issues create
multiple interpretations of aggressive sexual conduct. Acts of similar sexual violence
that occur in one context may have a different interpretation in another context.
Interpretation depends on the pre-assault behavior of the victim, assailant, and other

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

261
inmates’ perceptions of the causes of the sexual violence. However, men and women
inmates reported that prison rape as they defined it did not frequently occur. Second,
inmates reported they “self-police” the prison community in an effort to try to maintain
peace and social order. Third, inmates reported numerous protective social arrangements,
such as religious groups, recreation friendships, and support by older inmates, to facilitate
safety from physical and sexual violence. These arrangements also provide men and
women inmates with social and emotional support.
Fourth, inmate sexual culture allows for inmates’ disagreement on the meaning of
acts of sexual violence in similar contexts. Some inmates may interpret sexual violence
as rape while others interpret a similar act as sexual violence other than rape. A key issue
that distinguishes the meaning of sexual violence hinges on the response of a victim
toward an aggressor after the act of sexual violence. Fifth, prison inmates judge prison
rape as detrimental to inmates’ social order. Prison rapists are unwelcome in a prison
community. Sixth, while men’s and women’s prisons show differences in observable
social behavior, these prison cultures share a system of cultural beliefs, values, and
norms. This shared culture results in similar subjective interpretations of sexual violence.
A bivariate analysis of interview data highlighted gender-based, cultural distinctions in
men’s and women’s prisons.
Policy Recommendations for Correctional Practice
This project led to research-oriented recommendations with practice-oriented
implications. Research recommendations would strengthen evidence-based practices.
Staff training should emphasize heightened awareness of inmates’ informal activities.
Interviews with inmates indicate that correctional officers disregard inmates’ informal

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

262
activity in dorms and cell blocks. Inmates hang out partners, why they hang with certain
other inmates, social group composition, and so on, would give line staff direct
observational input on potential pairings of sexual aggressors and victims.
Interview data showed that scared or naive inmates may not participate in social
activities, such as watching television in a day room or playing cards. Rather, these
inmates and those who have previously been victimized may remain within close
proximity to their cells or bedding area in dorms. Victims of physical and/or sexual
violence may not use shower facilities out of fear of further sexual or physical attacks.
Line-staff observational training could enhance corrections officers’ abilities to observe
inmate social patterns. These direct, low cost approaches to supervision would enable
staff to systematically gather information on social interactions. This information could
be the basis of pre-emptive violence prevention and intervention. As a result of these
changes in observational behaviors, corrections officers would be more likely to identify
sexual aggressors who could then be transferred to other housing units or institutions
before the violence occurred.
Interviews consistently reported that rapists are unwelcome in mainstream inmate
society; that they have few companions; and that their sexual aggression pushed them to
the margin of inmate society. These insights can be tested with formal methods of social
network analysis. If rapists could be identified through officers’ observations of rapists’
social affiliations or their interaction with former or potential victims, institutions could
devise pre-emptive approaches to isolate (potential) rapists.
Observation data in concert with incident report information could provide the
basis of a formal analysis of inmate social networks. Inmates hang out with different

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

263
companions for different reasons. Some companions hang out for legitimate and nonviolent reasons, such as card playing or watching television. Other companions hang out
for illicit reasons, including physical, sexual, or economic exploitation of non-combative
inmates. While systematic observations can provide some information on these
groupings, the analysis of data taken from incident reports, such as perpetrators of
violence and details of violent acts, can be used to create graphic visualizations of
inmates’ social interactions. Such visualizations illustrate how inmates are linked to one
another for particular reasons.
Interviews reported that debts were often a cause of physical or sexual violence.
Staff analysis of commissary expenditures matched against incident reports and staff
observations could identify inmates who are economic aggressors. This analysis could
also identify inmates who have no commissary expenditures. These inmates are at high
risk of borrowing goods from other inmates. Borrowing without repayment can lead to
sexual violence. The act of borrowing itself puts a borrower in a passive position and
subject to others’ whims. These whims may include sexual favors to repay debts.
Additionally, new inmates are given the opportunity to purchase commissary goods.
However, older inmates prey on new inmates. Aggressive inmates may steal goods or
conjure a manipulative relationship with new inmates. Such a relationship, interviews
showed, may end in forceful but covert sexual favors or overt sexual violence. This
suggests that institutions should regulate and carefully monitor new inmates’ commissary
purchases. At this point, incident report analysis and observation information would help
staff find aggressive inmates who steal from new inmates.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

264
This research as well as previous studies of prison social and economic systems
shows that prison social and economic sub-systems are integrated. However, this
research shows that inmate culture—inmates learned and shared norms, beliefs, and rules,
have a strong influence on inmate behavior. Single innovations, such as additional
cameras or improved supervisory practices alone may not facilitate a long-term decrease
in sexual violence. Multiple types of analysis as those noted would provide a detailed,
systematic assessment of the causes and conditions of sexual violence.
Interview data analysis had implications for the improvement of new-inmate
orientation. New inmates experience high levels of anxiety. Many new prisoninexperienced inmates reported that staff orientation leaders frightened them with the
portent of socio-economic sexual exploitation and rape inside the institution. Staff did
not act to mitigate inmates’ fears and worries about rape; rather, inmates said, they were
told they would have to learn ‘how to handle it.’ Inmates reported that staff said sexual
violence was part of prison life; some inmates said staff told them that sexual
victimization was part of their punishment. On the other hand, when inmates entered the
mainstream inmate population they did not encounter sex aggression. Moreover, a
majority of inmates were soon supported within a safe zone of social affiliation, such as
companionship with older inmates or inmates they knew from free society. Generally,
inmates said staff ‘tortured’ them with threats of sexual victimization. Only later did they
find prison life safer than they had expected.
Data analysis shows that inmates’ level of worry about rape remains relatively
low over their period of incarceration. However, inmates hear gossip about rape
incidents or tales of egregious rape that happened long ago. Only after inmates are

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

265
socialized do they realize that what they hear about rape does not necessarily match their
prison experiences. This disjunction between what inmates hear and what they
experienced causes anxiety and fear. Until this disjunction diminishes through daily
experience, inmates may find themselves involved in protection mechanisms, such as
pre-emptive fights if they feel threatened or possession of a weapon. Strong inmate
orientation and continuous support by staff would aide inmates to establish positive
behavioral routines.
Inmate orientation trainers must provide a balanced account of sexual and other
types of violence. Trainers must never intentionally or unintentionally use the threat of
sexual violence to manipulate inmates and frighten them. Trainers must always reinforce
positive trends in inmates’ prison social life and in staff-inmate communication
relationships. Staff must always tell inmates that their fears and worries about rape will
be taken seriously. Inmates often said correctional officers disregard or discount or
devalue inmates’ concerns over sexual or physical violence. Corrections administrators
should be sensitive to the concerns of incoming inmates and train their staff appropriately
to deal with these fears. Staff should be trained in positive forms of communication.
They must learn how to express empathy toward inmates. They must learn how best to
handle anxious inmates and those whose fears of sexual violence are justifiably real.
Inmates reported that line-staff interact with them was generally conducted in a
professional manner. However, there are some who, inmates said, despise them only
because they are inmates or, in some cases, are known or suspected homosexuals.
Correctional administrators should utilize inmates’ positive evaluations of line-staff as
fair and professional to train other correctional officers in similar professional behavior.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

266
Institutions must make a concerted effort to retrain professional corrections staff and
reinforce the need for objective, professional interactions with inmates. Inmate
complaints about alleged homophobes should be taken seriously. Obvious homophobic
behavior by staff should be dealt with in a serious manner. Abundantly clear from the
data are the serious management implications of poor staff communication and shirked
responsibilities in the supervision and failure to treatment of inmates fairly and
professionally.
Inmates said that reporting sexual pressure or rape to staff most often results in
the deterioration of a victim’s lifestyle. He or she would be locked down in
administrative detention while staff conducted an investigation. Some inmates said they
could be locked down for years or transferred to another institution, where they’d have to
assimilate to a new mainstream population. All the while, a sexual aggressor whose guilt
was not substantiated may be returned to general population. Institution practices must
design mechanisms that do not punish (as inmates see it) them for reporting rape.
Women inmates reported that staff-inmate mutual sexual relationships are rather
common (as data showed). Inmates said that such relations, while bringing them
contraband or other material goods, erode their trust in staff; to paraphrase, ‘if we cannot
trust staff to obey the rules, why should we.’ The erosion of trust becomes complicated
even more when staff-inmate sexual relations cause jealousy and strife among inmates.
The data in this study are clear. Women inmates know about sexual relations between
other inmates and male or female staff. Financial rewards offered to staff and inmates
may encourage them to report staff violators of the sexual prohibition against sex with
inmates.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

267
Overall, correctional, program, and administrative staff must better understand the
cultural and social dynamics of inmate social life. A more realistic appraisal of staff
members’ impact on inmates’ behavior and anxieties, coupled with serious institution
remedies for the failure to meet professional standards, would create a positive inmate
culture. Out of a positive context, long-term formal and informal mechanisms to prevent
sexual violence are likely to emerge.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

268
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Alarid, L.F. (2000). Sexual assault and coercion among incarcerated women prisoners:
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Baumeister, R.F., Catanese, K.R., & Wallace, H.M. (2002). Narcissistic reactance
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Bowker, L. (1977). Prisoner subcultures. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath.
Buffum, P.C. 1972. Homosexuality in prisons.
Calhoun, J., & Coleman, H.D. (2002). Female inmates' perspectives on sexual abuse by
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Charlton, L. (1971). The terrifying homosexual world of the jail system. New York
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This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
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and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

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This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

276
Wooden, W. S., & Parker, J. (1982). Men behind bars: sexual exploitation in prison.
New York: Plenum Press.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

277

Appendix A: Lexicon of the Culture of Prison Sex

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

278

TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

A HUSTLE

AN ACTIVITY THAT PRODUCES VALUABLE RESOURCES; SELLING DRUGS
OR SEX IS A HUSTLE. THE INMATE WHO GIVES THE COMMISSARY IS ON
THE HUSTLE

A TURN-OUT

A HETEROSEXUAL ON THE STREET WHO IS PRESSURED INTO SEX INSIDE

AGGRESSIVE FEMME

A FEMME WHO CAN FIGHT, ALSO CAN SHAVE HEAD OR WEAR MAKE-UP
CAN PLAY EITHER ROLE.

AGGRESSOR

WOMEN'S PRISON USAGE SYNONYMOUS WITH DYKE AND FEMME;
DOMINANT PARTNER IN A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP

ALL-OUT-QUEEN

A HOMOSEXUAL WHO DISPLAYS AND EXTORTS FEMININE TRAITS OFTEN IN
AN EXAGGERATED MANNER; MAY FASHION WOMEN-LIKE CLOTHING;
WALK WITH SWINGING HIPS; TAKE ON A HIGH VOICE; DECORATE EYE LIDS
WITH POOL CUE CHALK OR KOOL AID; CHARACTERISTIC TRAIT IS THEY
ARE NOT WEAK; INMATES SAY "QUEENS CAN STAND UP AND FIGHT LIKE
A MAN"; "QUEENS DON'T WANT TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH ANYTHING
MASCULINE"; SYNONYM, ALL-OUT-FUCK BOY.

ALL-THE-WAY OUT

A DUDE WHO ONCE CLAIMED TO BE HETEROSEXUAL AND SWITCHED TO
HOMOSEXUAL SEE, DUDE

AN OLD-SCHOOL MOVE

A SLOW, COVER TACTIC TO TURN OUT A YOUNG INMATE BY CREATING A
FRIENDSHIP BOND THROUGH ATHLETICS, SHARING MEALS AND LETTING
THE YOUNG INMATE BELIEVE THE OLDER INMATE IS HIS FRIEND

ARCHIN'

MEN WHO ARCH THEIR BROWS TO LOOK LIKE WOMEN

ASS CHASER

SEXUAL PREDATOR

ASS-PUSSY

REFERENCE TO ANUS AS FEMALE SEX ORGAN

BAD BONE

A RUMOR THAT CAUSES WOMEN INMATES TO STAY AWAY FROM ONE
ANOTHER; TO PUT A BAD BONE ON SOMEONE; USED IN VERBAL COMBAT
ALONG WITH OR INSTEAD OF SLURS

BANDITS

SYNONYM, BOOTIE BANDIT; LOCAL GEOGRAPHIC MEANING: "GUY WHO'LL SCREW JUST
ABOUT ANY BOY HE CAN." BANDITS HAVE DISTINCTIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD DAILY
LIFE: "HE FOCUSES ON THE NEXT LAY." "BOOTIE BANDIT JUST WANTS YOU--WON'T
TURN DOWN ANYTHING." CONTRAST BANDITS TO PREDATORS: A PREDATOR "DOESN'T
WANT JUST ANYBODY; EACH HAS HIS OWN TASTE." PREDATOR HAS MORE SKILL THAN
A BANDIT. BAD REPUTATION ACCOMPANIES A BANDIT LABEL. INMATES SAY THAT
ONCE THEY GET "CAUGHT A COUPLE OF TIMES, THEY CAN'T DENY IT; THEY RELISH IN IT
AND ARE ACCEPTED. YOU CAN'T DO NO WRONG BECAUSE YOU'RE THE LOWEST
ANYWAY." A BANDIT "WON'T GET ALL MAD IF HE DOESN'T GET IT [SEX], BECAUSE
HE'LL GET IT SOMEPLACE ELSE. MORE CONSENSUAL EXPERIENCES THAN NONCONSENSUAL ONES. REFERENCE TO 'LOW': LOW DOESN'T DENOTE SOCIAL STATUS BUT
AN OPINION OF ONE'S BEHAVIOR.

BEAST FUCKING

ROUGH SEX

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

279
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

BEING DOWN

TO HAVE SEX WITH SOMEONE “IN A HATEFUL MANNER TOWARD
SOMEONE ELSE.” EX: WHEN A FEMME HAS SEX WITH ANOTHER BUTCH IN
FRONT OF HER BUTCH.

BELL PEPPER

A LARGE PENIS HEAD

BICURIOUS

A STRAIGHT (SEE, STRAIGHT) WHO IS CURIOUS ABOUT, AND OFTEN DOES,
TRY A SAME-SEX RELATION. THEY DO NOT CONSIDER THEMSELVES NOR
ARE THEY CONSIDERED HOMOSEXUAL. SAME AS MEANING OF BICURIOUS
ON THE STREET. SOCIAL CONTEXT MEANING: BICURIOUS INMATES WHO
PROPOSITION A DUDE AND ARE THEN REJECTED MAY BE SEEN AS
POTENTIAL RAPISTS BECAUSE THEY WERE OFFENDED OR FELT WEAK
ABOUT THEIR SEXUAL ATTRACTIVENESS. REFERS ONLY TO AN INMATE IN
A MALE ROLE.

BIG BOB

SYNONYM FOR BOXING BETTY

BIG MAMMA

SEE MADAM

BI-SEXUAL

A MAN WHO ON THE STREET HAS SEX WITH WOMEN, BUT INSIDE PRISON
PLAYS THE PASSIVE SEXUAL ROLE WITH HETEROSEXUAL MEN; ONCE
THAT HAPPENS HE IS NOT CONSIDERED BI-SEXUAL, HE IS HOMOSEXUAL
BECAUSE HE TAKES ON A FEMALE ROLE.
MULTIPLE MEANINGS IN A VARIETY OF CONTEXTS. OFTEN USED AS AN

BITCH

HONORIFIC TERM OF REFERENCE OR ADDRESS TO DENOTE A
TRUSTWORTHY FAG, OR A MAN'S "WIFE"
BLOW JOB

ORAL SEX; A COMMON HUSTLE IF AN INMATE DOES NOT HAVE A MAN
(SEE MAN)

BLOW JOB UNDER THE
INFLUENCE

ON STREET IT REFERS TO DRUGS AND ALCOHOL; INSIDE IT REFERS TO
PRESSURE, DEPRESSION, OR LONELINESS

BODY FUCKING

TO RUB TOGETHER BODIES UNTIL ORGANISM, USUALLY CLOTHED;
EXAMPLE: "IT NEEDS A LOT OF SPACE SO IT ISN'T COMMON"
WOMEN INMATES. “SHE’S MY BOO" INMATE CALLED BOO A "LOVE
NAME"
ASS; CAN BE USED TO REFER SPECIFICALLY TO THE ANUS
INFREQUENTLY USED AS AN HONORIFIC FOR OLDER INMATES WITH
SOCIAL STANDING BUT MAY NOT HAVE SEXUAL CONNOTATIONS; ALSO
USED TO DENOTE AN INMATE WITH "GAME" WHO TURNS OUT INMATES;

BOO
BOOTIE
BOOTIE BANDITS

AN INMATE WHO HAS THE REPUTATION OF PRESSURING INMATES FOR
SEX; HAS MULTIPLE SEXUAL RELATIONS AS IN "ONE-NIGHTER"; NOT AS
VIOLENT AS A PREDATOR; SOME INMATES TAKE PLEASURE OR
ENJOYMENT FROM BEING OR BEING KNOWN AS A BOOTIE BANDIT AND
WILL TALK OPENLY ABOUT IS CONQUESTS: SEE BANDIT
BOTTOM HO

THE NUMBER ONE QUEEN IN A GROUP OF HOS THAT IS OVERSEEN BY A
STRONG MAN

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

280
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

BOXING BETTY

SEX-LINKED TALE OF AN INMATE WHO WAS SEXUALLY RIPPED OFF BY
OTHER INMATES, SOMETIMES AS MANY AS THREE OR FOUR. TALE THEN
DESCRIBES THAT HE TRAINED AND LIFTED WEIGHTS AND BEAT UP AND
SODOMIZED HIS ATTACKERS. FOLKLORIC CHARACTER RECOGNIZED BY
INMATES ACROSS A WIDE GEOGRAPHIC AREA; IF NAME DIDN'T EMERGE IN
INTERVIEWS, INMATES KNEW THE TALE.

BOY

USED BY A DADDY TO REFER TO HIS SON; SON HAS A NARROW RANGE OF
MEANING; SON OFTEN USED TO DENOTE A NON-SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP
BETWEEN DADDY/SON, BUT DADDY COMMONLY EXTORT MONEY FROM
SON

BREAK YOUR BACK

"LET ME SCREW YOU"; ROUGH SEX

BROWN NOSE

SAME AS FREAK

BULL-DAGGER (WOMEN
INMATES)

BULL DYKE

BULL-DAGGERING
(BULLDAGGING;
WOMEN INMATES)

TO HAVE SEX WITH FEMMES AND DYKES

BULLDAGGING (MEN
INMATES)

TO FLIP FLOP; LIMITED USAGE

BUMPING PUSSIES

SEE FLIP FLOP

BUS

A BUS DELIVERS INMATES TO PRISON FROM A RECEPTIONCLASSIFICATION CENTER

BUSHWACKER

SEXUAL PREDATOR

BUST A 60

TO SPEND ALL YOUR MONEY ON SOMEONE FOR PROTECTION (FIGHT,
FUCK, OR BUST A 60--[AMOUNT VARIES BY STATE]

CANTEEN HO

SYNONYM, COMMISSARY HO, STORE-BAG STUDS: SEX FOR COMMISSARY,
ONLY WITH SOMEONE BE CAUSE THEY GOT CANTEEN

CAP

BLOW JOB; "TO CAP A DUDE" OR "DUDE GOT CAPPED"

CAR WASH

A LARGE SHOWER AREA WITH MULTIPLE SHOWER HEADS; NO PRIVACY. TERMS ISN'T
RECOGNIZED IN A NUMBER OF STATES (PROBABLY BECAUSE INMATES ARRIVED AFTER
REMODELING AND DIDN'T EXPERIENCE A CAR WASH).

CARPET MUNCHERS

WOMEN WHO PARTICIPATE IN ORAL SEX WITH ANOTHER WOMAN

CAVE MAN

BRUTAL INMATE WHO TAKES SEX BUT WHO IS NOT PERCEIVED AS A
RAPIST. INMATE WHO DOES IT REPEATEDLY HAS CAVE MAN SYNDROME.

CAVE MAN SYNDROME

SEE CAVE MAN

CELLIE

CELL MATE

CHECK OFF

DEROGATORY TERM FOR SOMEONE WHO TRANSFERS OR CHECKS INTO PC
FOR PROTECTION. THEY’RE SCARED AND THEY SNITCHED SO THEY GO
FROM CAMP TO CAMP

CHECKING IN

TO REQUEST PROTECTION IN A PRISON'S ADMINISTRATIVE SECURITY UNIT

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

281
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

CHILD MOLESTER

USED BY WOMEN INMATES TO REFER TO A STUD BROAD WHO PREYS ON
(SWEATS) MUCH YOUNGER WOMEN INMATES

CIVILIAN

A DUDE WHO ISN'T HOOKED UP; DUDE WHO HAS PEOPLE SUPPORTING AND
DOESN'T NEED A SEX RELATIONSHIP CIVILIANS HAVE POTENTIAL TO COME
TOGETHER AND BE A STRONG FORCE

CLOSET CASE

CLOSET CASES: A STRAIGHT GUY PRETENDING TO BE STRAIGHT IN FRONT
OF HIS FRIENDS BUT PRIVATELY HE IS MORE ACCEPTING OF HOMOSEXUAL
BEHAVIOR; GUY WHO IS BISEXUAL

CLOSET PUNK

A STREET BISEXUAL. DUDE WHO DOESN'T TALK ABOUT HAVING SEX
WITH MEN AND WOMEN ON STREET

CLOSET QUEEN

PRISON HOMOSEXUAL; SYNONYMS: FAG, DICK SUCKER, FEMME: IN
LIMITED GEOGRAPHIC USAGE FOR SOMEONE THAT IS OPENLY GAY AND
DOESN'T WANT ANYONE TO KNOW IT; WILL DO IT [SEX], WANTS TO DO IT;
MUST BE SECRET ENGAGEMENT IN SEX V. BEING DOWN LOW--SOCIALLY
HE IS NOT SUPPOSED TO DO IT.

COCK BLOCK

AN INMATE WHO STANDS IN THE WAY OF A PREDATOR AND A PREDATOR;
AN OLDER INMATE MAY BE A COCK BLOCK FOR A NEW INMATE

COCK SUCKERS

WOMEN WHO LIKE TO GIVE HEAD

COCKGLAZER

DUDE FORCED INTO SEX THE FIRST TIME THEN CONTINUED TO HAVE SEX
VOLUNTARILY; SYNONYM OF HOMOSEXUAL, FAG, QUEER

COMMISSARY
NECESSARY

TO COMMIT AN ACT IN ORDER TO OBTAIN COMMISSARY (CANTEEN);
EXAMPLE: "WOMEN WHO CUT THEIR HAIR AND PRETEND TO BE BUTCH IN
ORDER TO GET A FEMME TO PROVIDE HER WITH COMMISSARY."

COP, STOP, BLOCK,
AND LOCK

A TURN-OUT STRATEGY; CONNOTES 'POWER' IN A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP; STAGES
OF A CLOSE, DELIBERATE TURN-OUT; STRATEGY REQUIRES FINDING A TARGET
(COP), STOPPING THE TARGET FROM THINKING ABOUT OTHER RELATIONSHIPS OR
FRIENDS OR FAMILY (STOP), STOPPING TARGET'S INTERACTION WITH OTHER
INMATES (BLOCK), AND ONCE THE TARGET HAS BEEN ISOLATED, THE AGGRESSOR
HAS TARGET IN SOCIAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL STATE VULNERABLE TO SEX (LOCK).
IN STREET TALK--"GET IT AND LOCK IT IN AND KEEP IT TO YOURSELF"

CORNER PERSON

A RAPED DUE WHO IS STILL ON THE YARD. HE IS IN THE CORNER, NO ONE
WILL HANG OUT WITH HIM. CORNER MEN ARE VALUABLE. "SOMEBODY
WOULD PICK HIM AND SAY, MAKE ME SOME MONEY. THERE’S MONEY IN
RAPED GUYS STILL ON THE YARD. HE’D BE PUSHED ASIDE, NOBODY WILL
HANG WITH HIM."

CORNER PERSON

AN INMATES WHO HAS BEEN RAPED AND STAYS ON YARD. "HE'S IN THE
CORNER. NO ONE WILL HANG OUT WITH HIM." CORNER MEN HAS
ECONOMIC VALUE. USAGE: SOMEONE WOULD PICK HIM AND SAY,
'MAKE ME SOME MONEY.' THERE'S MONEY IN RAPED GUYS STILL ON THE
YARD. HE'S PUSHED ASIDE, NOBODY WILL HANG WITH HIM."
SYNONYM, KING CROSS-OVER; HETEROSEXUAL HAVING SAME-SEX
OPENLY; SYNONYM OF BI-SEXUAL
A DUDE WHO IS "SOFT," UNABLE TO PROTECT HIMSELF AND HAS

CROSS-OVER
CUPCAKE

QUALITIES OF A GAY

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

282
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

CURIOUS

A DUDE WHO IS "CURIOUS" ABOUT SAME-SEX RELATIONS; "IF YOU'RE
CURIOUS THEY'LL TURN YOU OUT"; DUDE IS SEEN AS CURIOUS AND THEN
TURNED OUT OR RAPED

DADDY

SYNONYM OF FATHER; AN OLDER INMATE WHO WATCHES OVER A
YOUNGER INMATE; "HE'S MY DADDY." GUY WHO TAKES CARE OF AN
INMATE; FIGHTS AND PROVIDES FOR HIM, AND IN RETURN HE GETS ALL
THE SEX HE WANTS. EXPRESSION: "I'M GOING TO BE YOUR DADDY.
HE'S GOING TO SCREW YOU." MUSLIMS PROTECT ONE ANOTHER AS
BROTHERS BUT DON'T PROVIDE GOODS OR SERVICES TO PROTECTED
INMATES

DAGGING (MALE
USAGE)

TO FLIP FLOP; LIMITED USAGE

DAG-PARTNERS

FLIP FLOPPERS

DICK SUCKER

SEE CLOSET QUEEN

DICKING DOWN

ROUGH SEX

DIESEL DYKE

TOUGH DYKES; WOMAN COULD BE A STUD BUT NOT BE TOUGH

DOGGY STYLE

TO HAVE ANAL SEX FROM A REAR POSITION

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

VERBAL OR PHYSICAL DISPUTES AND SPATS BETWEEN AN MALE-ROLE
INMATE AND FEMALE-ROLE INMATE. IN USAGE, MALE INMATES DON'T
CONCEPTUALIZE MAN/WIFE AGGRESSION AS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, BUT
WOMEN INMATES DO. WHEN INTERVIEWING MEN INMATES, ASKING
ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, USING THAT TERM, MEN INMATES MAY
PAUSE OR ASK FOR AN EXPLANATION. WOMEN INMATES KNOW
IMMEDIATELY THE TERM DOMESTIC VIOLENCE REFERS TO STUD/FEMME
RELATIONSHIP.

DOUCHE BAG MOUTH

HAS HAD A LOT OF FEMALE PARTNERS IN ORAL SEX

DRIVE-BY

MASTURBATING ON SOMEONE IN THE SHOWER

DRY SNITCH

TO FILE A GRIEVANCE AGAINST STAFF OR INMATES, OFTEN WITH THE
INTENTION OF BREAKING UP COUPLES OR CAUSING STAFF TROUBLE

DUDE

MALE INMATE; SYNONYM OF MAN, AS IN BEING THE MAN IN
HOMOSEXUAL COUPLE

DYKE

MEN'S PRISON USAGE IS SYNONYMOUS WITH FAG; WOMEN'S PRISON
USAGE DENOTES THE DOMINANT PARTNER IN A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP

FAG

CONNOTATION IS ALWAYS DEROGATORY. A MALE INMATE WHO LOOKS
AND BEHAVES LIKE A WOMAN AND IS WEAK AND WAS COERCED OR
FORCED IN HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR; A KIND OF HOMOSEXUAL; A FAG
DOES WHAT WOMEN ON THE OUTSIDE DO SUCH AS STAY AT HOME AND
ACT AS A MOM; TAKE CARE OF CELL; MAKE GOOD; CARRY DRUGS AND
SHANKS; WILL DO WHATEVER THEY CAN TO KEEP THEIR MAN OUT OF THE
'HOLE'; EXPRESSIONS USED IN HOSTILE VERBAL ENCOUNTER BY A FAG
TOWARD A STRAIGHT GUY--"YOU'RE PUNK, YOU A BITCH, YOU A FAG;

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

283
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE
YOU TAKE IT UP THE BUTT"

FAG

SYNONYMOUS WITH MAMMA, MOMMA LARK; LITTLE MAMMA

FAG HAG

WOMEN WHO ARE NOT GAY BUT HANGS OUT WITH ALL THE GAYS

FAGGIES

A GAY INMATE; MAY BE AN INMATE WHO CAME IN GAY OR WAS TURNED
OUT INSIDE; TERM FAGGIES IS USED WITH VERY LIMITED DISTRIBUTION

FATHER

AN OLDER INMATE WHO WATCHES OVER AND PROTECTS A YOUNGER,
PRISON-INEXPERIENCED INMATE; SEX DOES NOT HAVE TO BE RETURNED
FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE PROTECTION; DADDIES MAY TAKE ON SONS IF
THEY MISS THEIR OWN SONS; USED TO DENOTE THE ROLE PLAYED BY AN
INMATE HAS A SON; A SON WOULD NOT CALL HIS DADDY, FATHER.
DESPITE KIN TERM USAGE, MEN INMATES DON'T CONCEPTUALIZE THE
RELATIONSHIP AS A FAMILY UNIT

FEFE BAG

SYNONYM, POCKET PUSSY; CHICKEN FAT DEVICE MADE TO FEEL LIKE A
WOMAN. FEFE BAG DEVICE: PUT A PLASTIC BAG INTO A SOCK AND PUT
RUBBER BANDS AROUND IT AND SQUIRT IN VASELINE OR LOTION-SUCTION DEVICE USED AT TIP; OR A WARM WASH CLOTH BOUND WITH
RUBBER BANDS

FEMALE

A MALE INMATE WHO PLAYS THE ROLE OF FEMALE; A FAG; AN ALL-OUT
HOMOSEXUAL; A TERM OF REFERENCE

FEMALE PUNK FAG

SYNONYM OF FAG/PUNK

FEMME

USAGE IN MEN'S PRISON, SEE CLOSET QUEEN; USAGE IN WOMEN'S PRISONS
DENOTES WOMAN INMATES WHO LOOK FEMININE, FOR EXAMPLE, WEAR
LIPSTICK; REFERS TO THE PASSIVE PARTNER IN A COUPLE. VERY LIMITED
USAGE REFERS TO A MALE INMATE WHO'S HETEROSEXUAL BUT LOOKS
FEMININE

FEMME-FEMME

TO BE LIKE A GIRLY-GIRL, A TRUE FEMME, MAKEUP, HAIR, ETC.

FIST FUCKING

TO INSERT FIST IN WOMAN'S VAGINA DURING A CONSENSUAL OR NONCONSENSUAL ENCOUNTER

FLIP-FLOP

A FLIP-FLOP, TO FLIP-FLAP; GAYS WHO SWITCH SEXUAL POSITIONS FROM
BOTTOM AND TOP; A SEXUAL POSITION; MOST GUYS WANT TO GIVE SEX;
IF MEN INMATES ARE TOTALLY GAY FLIP-FLOP IS NOT A BIG ISSUE

FLY TRAP

TECHNIQUE TO DETERMINE IF A MAN IS SEXUALLY INTERESTED IN
ANOTHER MAN. FLY TRAP: TO DEFECATE WITH TOILET STALL DOOR
OPEN TO SPOT PASSERS-BY WHO LOOK AT MAN ON TOILET; IT'S BELIEVED
THAT THE LOOKER THEN SHOWS INTEREST IN SEX; MEN DON'T LOOK AT
OTHER MEN ON THE TOILET OR IN THE SHOWER; IF THEY DO, THE
CONNOTATION IS THAT THE OBSERVER IS INTERESTED IN SEX

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

284
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

FREAK BOY

A FAG WHO HAS EXTREME SEXUAL BEHAVIOR, SUCH AS GOLDEN
SHOWERS

FREAKS

SAME AS FREAK BOY

FREAKY ISLAND

LIMITED USE TO REFER TO A NON-SMOKING RESIDENCE UNIT PREFERRED
BY HOMOSEXUALS

FREE-WORLD FAG

FAG ON THE OUTSIDE AND INSIDE; GETS MORE RESPECT

FRESH MEAT

WOMEN ON THE FARM, WOMEN NEW TO THE INSTITUTION

FUCK BOY

A DUDE WHO ISN'T ALL-THE-WAY OUT; MAY HAVE A BEARD; DOESN'T
LOOK GAY; TARGET OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE IF HE DOESN'T DO WHAT HE IS
ASKED TO DO; WEIGHT LIFERS WHO GET "FUCKED" ARE FUCK BOYS;
MINOR USAGE AS SYNONYM OF PRESSURE PUNK, EMPHASIZING THAT
HOMOSEXUALITY IS NOT "ALL THE WAY OUT"; SOME USE AS A YOUNG
TURN-OUT WHO IS PIMPED; SOME USE AS SYNONYM FOR TURN-OUT.
SOME USAGE FOR DRUGGED OUT BOYS WHO'LL DO ANYTHING FOR
DRUGS; ALSO REFERS TO HETEROSEXUALS WHO WILL HAVE SEX FOR
DRUGS AND DON'T CONSIDER THEMSELVES HOMOSEXUALS

GANG UMBRELLA

SEE TO PUT SOMEONE UNDER AN UMBRELLA'

GANGSTER BITCH

A BITCH THAT'S EDUCATED AND CAN BE TRUSTED. STREET TERM,
"HOMOSEXUAL WHO TAKES NO SHIT"; HOMOSEXUAL WHO GOES
UNACKNOWLEDGED BY INMATES BECAUSE 'SHE' HAS A VIOLENT
REPUTATION

GANGSTER BOOTIE

SAME AS GANGSTER BITCH; LIMITED USAGE TO MEAN "NICE ASS"

GARBAGE DISPOSAL

SLEEPS WITH ANYTHING (FEMALE)

GAY

GAY HAS A CONNOTATION IS DIFFERENT FROM HOMOSEXUAL AND FAG; A
GAY IS FLAMBOYANTLY HOMOSEXUAL; A GAY MAY FLIP-FLOP WITH A
HOMOSEXUAL, PLAYING THE FEMALE AND MALE ROLES
A GAY WHO DOESN'T DRESS IN DRAG BUT TRIES TO ACT LIKE MEN;
PERSON WHO IS "BASICALLY OUT OF THE CLOSET"
A FORM OF MANIPULATION (ALSO CALLED PIMPING) WHEN MANIPULATOR
PRETENDS TO BE A FRIEND OF MANIPULATED MAN TO GET HIS SHOES, OR
'GO ON A MISSION' OR 'SPEND HIS MONEY'; LIMITED USAGE

GAY BOY

GEORGIA

GETTING EVEN

SAME AS PAY BACK

GIRL

MALE INMATE WHO BEHAVIORS LIKE OTHER INMATES OUTSIDE THE CELL,
BUT ADOPTS FEMALE CLOTHING INSIDE THE CELL; COOKS AND CLEANS;
MAY WEAR BRA AND PANTIES INSIDE CELL. FORM OF ADDRESS: "HEY,
GIRL, THEN TRICKERY STARTS. IF A STRAIGHT GUY CALLS A GAY 'SHE'
“YOU’LL BEGIN TO THINK SHE CAN SATISFY YOU LIKE A BITCH."

GIRL-BOY

A VICTIM OF SEXUAL ASSAULT WHO DOES NOT 'HANDLE HIS BUSINESS
[RETALIATE]'; SEEMS TO BE AN OLD TERM

GIRLY GIRL

NEAR SYNONYM OF FEMME; A GIRLY GIRL IS AN COSMETICALLY
EXTREME VERSION OF FEMME; WEARS HEAVY MAKE-UP, LIP STICK

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

285
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

GIRLY GIRL

OVERLY FEMME

GORILLA HAWK

SYNONYM OF GORILLA PIMP

GORILLA PIMP

AN INMATE WHO FORCES INMATES INTO HAVING SEX WITH HIM; A GORILLA PIMP
"TAKES PUSSY"; UNLIKE THE STREET, A GORILLA PIMP DOES NOT SELL "PUSSY"; AN
INMATE WHO "TAKES" (FEMALE ROLE) SEX. LIMITED USAGE REFERS TO 'OLD SCHOOL
GUYS'; "TAKING WHAT YOU WANT"; OLDER USE--MAKING SOMEONE GET SOMETHING
ONE WANTS; GAYS ARE OFTEN GORILLA PIMPED

GORILLA PIMP

SYNONYM OF GORILLA HAWK

GOT SUGAR IN YOUR
TANK

REFERS TO MAN WHO IS GAY THOUGH HE MAY NOT RECOGNIZE IT

GRAVEYARD LOVE

TO PRESSURE SOMEONE FOR SEX WHEREIN THE OUTCOME IS SEX OR
DEATH; "YOU ARE GOING TO BE WITH ME OR BE WITH THE DIRT"

GRAVEYARD LOVE

RELATIONSHIP BASED ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, THEY WILL NEVER LEAVE
EACH OTHER UNTIL ONE KILLS THE OTHER

GRINDING

FLIP FLOP

GUMBY

SAME AS FAG

HARD ADDICT

A GUY WHO IS HARD UP AND DOES WHAT HE HAS TO DO TO FEED HIS
ADDICTION

HARD ADDICTION

SOMEONE WHO HAS AN ADDICTIVE NEED, DRUGS OR SEX OR NEED FOR
COMPANIONSHIP

HEAD

SYNONYM FOR BLOW JOB

HEAD-HUNTER

WOMEN'S USAGE--"GIRLS WHO ALWAYS TRYING TO GIVE SOMEBODY
HEAD ARE CALLED HEAD HUNTERS." REFERS TO WOMEN INMATES WHO
CONTINUOUSLY "LOOK FOR HEAD"; RELATED TERM, RIDING HEAD
(RECEIVER OF ORAL SEX): "COCK SUCKERS; PEOPLE WHO LIKE TO GIVE
(RIDE) HEAD ARE HEAD HUNTERS. A HEAD HUNTER-- THEY TRY TO HUNT
FOR A PERSON'S MOUTH."

HEATER HEAD

AN AGGRESSIVE HOMOSEXUAL

HER

PRONOUN, TERM OF REFERENCE; SHE IS ALSO USED; SYNONYMOUS WITH
FAG

HE-SHE

HE-SHE; DEROGATORY--GAYS DON'T USE THE TERM; HETEROSEXUALS
ARE SAID TO USE TERM IN REFERENCE TO GAY; HAS A NON-NEGATIVE
CONNOTATION

HETEROSEXUAL

A MALE WHO HAD SEX ONLY WITH WOMEN OUTSIDE PRISON; HE MAY
HAVE SAME-SEX RELATIONS INSIDE PRISON PLAYING THE FEMALE ROLE;
HETEROSEXUAL IS SEEN AS STRONGER AND ABLE TO PROTECT A
HOMOSEXUAL; HE CAN PROVIDE SECURITY FOR A HOMOSEXUAL

HITTING FROM THE
BACK

USED BY WOMEN INMATES TO REFER TO ROUGH OR REALLY ROUGH SEX

HITTING IT

MASTURBATION; "HE WAS HITTING IT ON THE STREET AND GOT
ARRESTED"

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

286
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

HO

AN HONORIFIC TERMS DENOTING A HOMOSEXUAL WHO IS RELIABLE;
SYNONYM OF BITCH

HO

A HOMOSEXUAL ONE CAN TRUST IN, FOR EXAMPLE, SELLING DRUGS;
DOES NOT NECESSARILY "SELL ASS"; A HO HAS "POLISH AND GAME";
USAGE ALSO INCLUDES DEROTAGORY CONNOTATION--CONTEXT
DETERMINES MEANING

HOMOSECTING

TO HAVE SEX WITH ANOTHER WOMAN; RESTRICTED GEOGRAPHIC USAGE

HOMOSEXUAL

SEE FAG; USED SOMETIMES AS A SYNONYM OF GAY BUT MOST OFTEN HAS
DIFFERENT CONNOTATION. A HOMOSEXUAL IS A SEXUAL PREFERENCE. A
PERSON WHO HAS NO DESIRE TO BE WITH OPPOSITE SEX; A MALE
HOMOSEXUAL ENGAGES IN SEX WITH MEN INSIDE AND OUTSIDE PRISON;
HAS RESPECT AMONG INMATES, MAY BE VIOLENT; MAY HAVE RESPECT
AMONG INMATES FOR HIS STRENGTH--FIGHTING ABILITY OR
WILLINGNESS TO KILL; A MAN WHO TRIES HIS "BEST TO DO EVERYTHING
A NATURAL WOMAN MIGHT DO"; ALSO USED TO REFER TO "A DUDE WITH
FEMININE QUALITIES WITH THE POTENTIAL TO BE A HOMOSEXUAL";
"THEY'LL TRICK THE SHIT OUT OF YOU; THEY'LL WALK AND SHAKE,
WEAR LIP GLOSS AND [SOME HAVE] BREASTS"

HOMOSEXUAL

SOMETIME USED AS A SYNONYM OF FAG; DEROGATORY TERM; GENERIC;
USED AS A TERM OF ADDRESS AND REFERENCE; HOMOSEXUAL, GAY AND
FAG HAVE DIFFERENT CONNOTATIONS

HOMOSEXUAL (NOT
OPENLY GAY)

CLOSET QUEEN; COMPLETELY GAY AND NOBODY KNOWS; HOMOSEXUAL
ON STREET AND KEEPS IT IN CLOSET IN PRISON

HOMOSEXUAL, TO
REFER TO SOMEONE AS

A TERM OF REFERENCE USED ONLY IF THE SPEAKER HAS THE SAME
STATUS AS THE REFERENT; "HOLYFIELD [FORMER HEAVY WEIGHT
WORLD BOXING CHAMPION] CAN CALL TYSON [ALSO A FORMER HEAVY
WEIGHT WORLD BOXING CHAMPION] A HOMOSEXUAL

HOOKER

REFERENCE TO PASSIVE PLAYER IN A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP

HOT-PARTNER:

TAKES CARE OF ELDERLY WOMEN INMATES, HELPS THEM IN THE SHOWER
IN RETURN GETS A LETTER FOR THEIR FILES AND RESPECT OF OTHER
INMATES.

HOUSEWIFE

A FAG WHO CARES FOR A MAN'S CELL; IS OFTEN USED IN A DEROGATORY
WAY TO INDICATE THAT THE FAG IS NOT RELIABLE OR WON'T OBEY HER
MAN'S COMMANDS TO PROSTITUTE HIMSELF FOR DOPE, CASH OR
COMMISSARY

HUSBAND

MALE INMATE WHO PLAYS MAN'S ROLE IN A LONG-TERM MAN-FAG
RELATIONSHIP, OR MARRIAGE; ALSO CALLED DADDY

JACK BOYS

PUBLIC MASTURBATORS WHO SIT TOGETHER AND TALK ABOUT FEMALE
STAFF

JACK TICKET

AN INCIDENT REPORT ISSUED FOR MASTURBATION, OFTEN
MASTURBATION IN A PUBLIC PLACE

JACKBOY

A DUDE WHO MASTURBATES WHILE LOOKING AT A FEMALE STAFF

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

287
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE
MEMBER

JACK-OFF ARTIST

OFTEN SYNONYM OF FREAK BOY; A COMPULSIVE MASTURBATOR;
MASTURBATION IN PUBLIC WHILE LOOKING AT A FEMALE STAFF MEMBER;
HE MAY STAND IN A SHOWER AND MASTURBATE FOR HOURS IF A FEMALE
STAFF MEMBER IS PRESENT

JOHN

DUDE WHO BUYS SEX

JUICY

SYNONYM OF FAG

JUMP-AROUNDS

HOMOSEXUALS THAT GO FROM LOVER TO LOVER

K-DADDY
KICKIN' IT

SYNONYM OF STRAWBERRY

KID V BOY TDC2
INTERVIEWS IT APPEARS

BOY IS LOVER.

KILLER

INMATE WHO “KILLS,” OR PUBLICLY MASTURBATES. LIMITED USAGE, A
TERM OF REFERENCE USED TO IDENTIFY A NON-HOMOSEXUAL DUDE WHO
WAS "RIPPED OFF" (SEXUALLY ASSAULTED) AND THEN IS ABOUT TO OR
HAS VIOLENTLY RETALIATED AGAINST HIS RAPIST; TERM DOES NOT
REFER TO DUDE WHO COMMITTED HOMICIDE FOR OTHER REASONS

KILLER

JACK BOY; A MAN WHO MASTURBATES WHILE LOOKING AT SOMEONE

KING CROSS-OVER

HETEROSEXUAL WHO FLIPS; BEEN BUSTED OUT; TRYING TO HIDE IT BUT
NOW IS OUT; PROBABLY WON'T HAVE THAT HOMOSEXUAL EXPERIENCE IF
HE ISN'T PUT IN THAT POSITION

KINKIN'

WOMEN'S PRISON USAGE REFERS TO WOMEN WHO ARE DATING

KNOCK ME OFF

BLOW JOB

LET ME RIDE YOUR
DOME

REQUEST FOR ORAL SEX BETWEEN WOMEN INMATES. EXAMPLE:
"FEMME SAYS TO BUTCH, 'LET ME RIDE YOUR DOME' IN ORDER TO HAVE
BUTCH GO DOWN ON HER.

LIPSTICK LESBIAN

ONE DAY A STUD BROAD, ANOTHER DAY A FEMME

LOVER'S LANE

A PRISON THEATRE

MADAM

THE NUMBER ONE QUEEN AMONG A GROUP OF HOES WHO ARE
PROSTITUTES; CHARGED WITH MANAGING THE PROSTITUTION BUSINESS

MAMMA

REFERENCE TO PASSIVE PLAYER IN A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP

MARK

A RAPE VICTIM OR TARGET

MARRIAGE

A PERMANENT SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIP OFTEN BEING IDENTIFIED BY THE
WIFE (MALE OR FEMALE) WEARING OF A WEDDING RING

MARRIAGE OF
CONVENIENCE

A MAN AND HIS HOMO SHARING THE SAME CELL

MEAT MONSTERS

SYNONYM OF A FLIP FLOP

USED FOR DATING--GOING TO THE YARD OR BINGO

KID IS RIDING

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

288
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

MENTAL RAPE

EMOTIONAL BULLYING BY USE OF REPEATED EXPRESSIONS, SUCH AS "I
HAVE THE WHITEST TEETH I EVER CAME ACROSS," AND "YOU'LL NEVER
TASTE A SWEETER PETER THAN MINE." DONE BY GROUPS OF TWO OR
MORE MEN. MAY LEAD TO SEX PLAY, SUCH AS FONDLING, WHEN
BULLIES FONDLE WEAKER MAN WHO'S LYING ON A BED

MINUTE MAN

TO HAVE SEX QUICKLY

MISS THING

LIMITED GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION TO MEAN QUEEN.
SYNONYMOUS WITH FAG; TERM OF REFERENCE OR ADDRESS
EXPRESSION OF ATTACHMENT BY A MAN TOWARD HIS "FEMALE"
PARTNER; A TERM OF ENDEARMENT; A HO WILL HUSTLE, WASH CLOTHES,
MAKE MONEY FOR HER MAN
REFERENCE TO DOMINANT MALE IN A RELATIONSHIP; "THAT'S MY MAN"
REFERENCE TO DOMINANT MALE IN A RELATIONSHIP; "THAT'S MY
NIGGAH"
INMATE WHO TRADES SEX FOR DRUGS; SEE STRAWBERRY
SAME AS NASTY HO; SEE STRAWBERRY
NEW INMATES ON THE CELL BLOCK; REFERS TO PRISON-INEXPERIENCED

MY BABY
MY HO

MY MAN
MY NIGGAH
NASTY HO'
NASTY TRICK
NEW BOY

INMATES
NIGHT CREEPERS

DUDE ON THE DOWN LOW; DURING THE DAY HE PRETENDS TO BE
STRAIGHT, BUT AT NIGHT LOOKS FOR SEX

OKIE POOKIE (1)
OKAYED POKIER (2)
OLD JOE

WHITE INMATES; NARROW GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION

OLD THINGS

TRUSTWORTHY HOMOSEXUAL; MAY BE IDIOSYNCRATIC

PACK MAN

HAS HAD A LOT OF FEMALE PARTNERS IN ORAL SEX; SEX ROLES ARE NOT
SWITCHED

PANCAKE

SYNONYM OF FLIP-FLOP; A HOMOSEXUAL WHO VOLUNTARILY SWITCHES
SEX ROLES, MALE TO FEMALE, FEMALE TO MALE; USAGE IS THE SAME IN
WOMEN'S PRISON

PARTNERS

COMPANIONS; PEOPLE AN INMATE CAN RELY ONE

PAY BACK

RETALIATION FOR A VIOLENT OR DISRESPECTFUL ACT

PAYMASTER

TO BUY SEX AS ONE WOULD ON THE STREET

PEANUT BUTTER
CHASER

FLIP FLOP

PECKERWOOD

WHITE SUPREMACIST

PENITENTIARY SLICK

CONS PEOPLE OUT OF SEX WITH SLICK TALK

PILLOW PRINCESS

SOMEONE WHO JUST LAYS BACK ON THE PILLOW AND RECEIVES ORAL
SEX,

WHITE TERM FOR FORCED SEX; LIMITED GEOGRAPHIC USAGE

BIG DICK BOB

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

289
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

PIMPING

MANIPULATION WITH OR WITHOUT SEX; "A MAN CAN BE PIMPED, AND HE
AIN’T GOT TO BE A HOMO TO BE GAY; MANIPULATION THAT CAN
BE USED FROM "OUR STANDPOINT IF YOU PIMP ANOTHER DUDE YOU
USING A MENTAL GAME"; SEE GEORGIA

PIRATE

SEXUAL PREDATOR

POCKET PUSSY

SYNONYM OF FEFE BAG

POWER' IN SEXUAL
RELATIONSHIPS

A LOVER CREATES DISTANCE HIS WOMAN AND OTHERS AND IN DOING SO,
KEEPS OTHERS AWAY

PREDATOR

AN INMATE WHO HAS THE INTENTION OF ENGAGING IN VIOLENT SEX; A
PREDATOR IS SEEN AS STRONG GUY; A PREDATOR MAY TURN OUT AN
INMATE, IN WHICH CASE, THE RAPE DOES NOT OCCUR; A PREDATOR MAY
STALK AN INMATE AND RAPE HIM. USED AS: PREDATORS ARE "SNEAKY
AND DANGEROUS; HE'LL JUST GET IT [SEX]."

PRESSURE PUNK

A PUNK WHO YIELDS TO SEXUAL PRESSURE AND PLAYS THE FEMALE
ROLE; MAY BE RAPED THE FIRST TIME AND AFTERWARD YIELD
VOLUNTARILY; TARGETS FOR VIOLENT SEX IF THEY DO NOT DO WHAT
SOMEONE HAS ASKED THEM TO DO

PRISNEYLAND

A PENITENTIARY THAT HAS A NON-VIOLENT REPUTATION; USED FOR
MALE OR FEMALE INSTITUTIONS

PUNK

A WEAK INMATE; AN INMATE WHO CANNOT DEFEND HIMSELF OR TRY TO
DEFEND HIMSELF; A PRESSURE PUNK DOES NOT TELL ANYONE HE HAS
BEEN RAPED OR FORCED INTO SEX; WOMEN WHO ARE TURNED OUT ARE
NOT CONSIDERED WEAK OR PUNKS--"YOU’RE NOT BEING PUNKED—IT’S
WHAT YOU DO, THAT’S HOW IT IS." "PUNK IS A WEAK DUDE WHO
HAVING SEX INSTEAD OF PROTECTING HIMSELF."

PURPLE PASSION

FOLKLORIC FIGURE WHO RAPES VULNERABLE MEN; HE IS HUGE AND
EXCEPTIONALLY STRONG. "HE GETS YOU WHILE YOU’RE SLEEPING; HE
HAS SOMEBODY WITH HIM AND YOU CAN’T DO NOTHING BECAUSE HE’S
SO BIG." SOME SAY HE ONLY RAPE GAYS; CALLED A BOOTIE BANDIT-WILL RAPE ANYONE INDEPENDENT OF THEIR "QUALITIES"

PUSSY

A MAN'S ASS USED FOR SEX; "THAT PUSSY WAS GOOD"

QUEEN

MALE INMATE WHO ADOPTS FEMININE TRAITS; SAME AS QUEEN ON THE
STREET BUT NOT THOUGHT OF AS A DRAG QUEEN

QUEEN

HIGHER STATUS THAN A HOMOSEXUAL AND HAS BEEN IN PRISON LONGER
AND HAS MORE EXPERIENCE IN SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS; A HO IS HIGH
STATUS BUT LOWER THAN A QUEEN; HIGHEST STATUS AMONG FEMALEACTING INMATES. STATUS DOES NOT REFER TO STRUCTURAL HIERARCHY
RATHER IT REFERS TO SOCIAL PRESTIGE, STRENGTH IN BEING OUT,
WILLING TO BE WHO YOU ARE DESPITE OBSTACLES

QUEEN

TOTAL HOMOSEXUAL, THAT IS, THROUGH EXTERNAL APPEARANCE AND
BY PERSONAL DEFINITION; "BEING A WOMAN" NOT ACTING LIKE ONE;

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

290
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE
SYNONYM OF QUEENDOM

QUEENDOM

REFERS TO "ALL THE LADY THAT I AM; ALL THE LADY IN ME." AN
EMOTIONAL STAGE OF COMING TO UNDERSTAND ONE'S INNER SEXUAL
IDENTITY

QUEENDOM-PHILOSOPHY OF

"SOMETHING ABOUT YOU MAN, BECAUSE I NEVER TALK TO A HOMOSEXUAL ON THE
STREET. I BELIEVE THE GUYS WHO ARE MOST OPEN ANTI-GAY THE MORE I'M
CONVINCED HE'S GOT SOMETHING IN HIM THAT'S GAY." "IF YOU NEVER GOT LOCKED
YOU'D HAVE DONE IT OUT THERE, MAYBE IT WOULD TAKE ALCOHOL, BUT YOU'D DO IT.
THEIR IS A SEXUAL BEING IN YOU THAT YOU DIDN'T EXPLORE UNTIL YOU CAME TO
PRISON."

RANK

CORRECTIONAL ADMINISTRATOR; DIALECT VARIATION

RAPE

A FORM OF TURNING OUT AN INMATE; A RAPIST MAY BE THOUGHT OF AS
A "COWARD"; A RAPIST DOES NOT IMPROVE HIS SOCIAL VALUATION;
EARLIER, INMATES SAY, 10 OR MORE YEARS AGO OR MORE, RAPE WAS A
WAY TO PROVE TOUGHNESS AND WAS MORE COMMON THAN TODAY;
RAPIST MAY BE WELL-LIKED DEPENDING ON HIS OTHER RELATIONSHIPS;
ACT MAY IMPROVE THE SOCIAL EVALUATION OF RAPIST, DEPENDING ON
VICTIM; A RAPIST "NEVER GOES AROUND SAYING I RAPED THIS GUY";
RAPISTS DON'T TALK TO ONE ANOTHER ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES;
CONNOTES "BABY RAPER" MORE THAN INMATE-TO-INMATE
NONCONSENSUAL SEX. WOMEN'S PRISON: "RAPE IS WORD USED
COMMONLY ON STREET SO THEY USE IT IN HERE"

RAPPIES

HOMEYS, FRIENDS

RASPBERRY

SYNONYM OF STRAWBERRY

RENEGADE

UNATTACHED HOMOSEXUAL

RIDE (N)

A NEW BOY WHO CAN BE USED FOR SEX

RIDING

"HE'S RIDING" "GOT HIM RIDING"; SAME AS, I GOT HIM UNDER MY WING

ROLLER

A CORRECTIONAL OFFICER

RUNNING A GAME

TERM REFERRING TO A PASSIVE PROCESS OF TURNING OUT SOMEONE

SAFE ZONE

A SECURE SOCIAL CONTEXT IN WHICH ONE DOES NOT FEEL THREATENED,
SUCH AS A RELIGIOUS GROUP OR A GANG OF NEIGHBORHOOD PARTNERS

SAFE ZONE

A SOCIAL ATTACHMENT THAT AFFORDS AN INMATE PROTECTION

SERIAL KILLER

MULTIPLE INCIDENTS OF MASTURBATORY KILLING

SETTING UP HOUSE

REFERS TO A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A GAY AND HIS BOY (GAY IS
DOMINANT; MAY DECIDE WHO IS PLAYING WHICH ROLE); THIS RELATION
IS ONE GAY AND ONE PUNK OR BOY--IT IS NOT A MAN-BOY/WIFE
RELATION

SHARK MAN

AN INMATE WHO "SWEATS DUDES FOR SEX" IN THE SHOWER

SHOP 180

TO FIND A GIRL WHO SPENDS HER MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF MONEY EACH
MONTH ON COMMISSARY

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

291
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

SHORTER

WOMEN INMATES. "SHE'S MY SHORTER." INMATE CALLED SHORTER A
'LOVE NAME'
USED AS A JOKE AMONG GAYS. REFERS TO EXAMPLE: "HI, I'M CHRIS
I'M THE SHOT SWALLER FOR THE GAY GROUP"; A MALE INMATE WHO HAS
ORAL SEX AND SWALLOWS SEMAN. REFERS TO HOMOSEXUAL OR GAY IN
A SPECIFIC TYPE OF SOCIAL GROUP; IN THIS CASE, 'SHOT SWALLER' IS A

SHOT SWALLOWER

HOMOSEXUAL WHO DECLARED HIS SEXUAL PREFERENCE ON MEMBERSHIP
TO THE GROUP.
SILVER-TONGUE HAWK

TURN OUT ARTISTS

SISTERS

TERM OF ADDRESS AND REFERENCE USED AMONG ALL-OUT
HOMOSEXUALS; MINOR USAGE BETWEEN "GIRLFRIENDS" OF DUDES IN
THE SAME GANG

SIX-FIVE

TO WATCH OUT FOR THE POLICE

SKEEZER

A FEMALE (HOMOSEXUAL) WHO JUMPS FROM MAN TO MAN TO GET
MONEY; A GOLD-DIGGER; HAS A POOR SOCIAL EVALUATION--"THEY AIN'T
WORTH SHIT"

SKULL

USED AS "LET ME GET SOME SKULL"; TO RECEIVER ORAL SEX

SLOW TURN-OUT

THE PROCESS OF TURNING OUT AN INMATE THAT TAKES A MONTH OR
LONGER; OFTEN USED IN REFERENCE TO TURNOUTS IN MINIMUM AND
MEDIUM SECURITY PRISONS, EXCLUDING PENITENTIARY INMATES WHO
ARE, INMATES SAY, TURNED OUT INMATES QUICKLY OR RAPE THEM

SNEAK TIP

CREEPING

SNEAK TIP

WOMEN INMATES. REFERS TO A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN A WOMAN
INMATE AND MALE OR FEMALE STAFF MEMBER.

SNITCH

TO REPORT INFORMATION TO PRISON AUTHORITIES THAT MAY HARM AN
INMATE

STABLE

STUD BROAD WHO HAS MULTIPLE FEMMES; THEY MAY RESIDE IN
DIFFERENT HOUSING UNITS AND BE UNAWARE OF ONE ANOTHER.

STALKER

RAPIST

STATE [RELATIVE]

WOMEN'S USAGE: PSEUDO-FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS;
OR STATE MOTHER OR STATE FAMILY

STIFF GUY

TO HAVE SEX WITH MEN, BUT STILL BE A MAN

STRAIGHT

A DUDE WHO IS BELIEVED TO BE HETEROSEXUAL

STRAIGHT UP RAPE

FORCED SEX

STRAIGHTENER

TO HAVE A DESIRE FOR A BLOW JOB:

STATE DAUGHTER

STRAWBERRY (GAY
BOY; FUCK BOY)

"A DUDE WANTS A STRAIGHTENER"
A PROSTITUTE OR HOOKER WHO EXCHANGES SEX FOR DRUGS; IT IS
COMMON TO GIVE BLOW JOBS FOR COCAINE, HEROIN OR MARIJUANA;
OFTEN DRUG ADDICTS; "A STRAWBERRY IS EASY TO PICK"

STREET BISEXUAL

SAME AS CLOSET PUNK

STRICKLY DICKLY

WOMEN'S PRISON; USAGE DENOTES WOMEN WHO DO NOT ENGAGE IN
SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS IN PRISON

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

292
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

STRONG

A MAN WHO CAN BE TREACHEROUS AND TOUGH; MAY BE "A LITTLE GUY
WITH STRONG KNIFE"

STUD

WOMEN'S PRISON USAGE IN SYNONYMOUS WITH DYKE

STUD BROAD

STUD; USED IN SOME REGIONS

SUCKER

WOMEN'S PRISON DENOTES SLOW, NAÏVE, AND PERHAPS OVERWEIGHT
YOUNG GIRL WHO IS WORKED TO PERFORM SEX ACTS ON DOMINANT
INMATE WHO ALSO TAKES HER COMMISSARY

SUGAR DADDY

SYNONYM OF STRAWBERRY

SUPER FREAK

A FREAK WHO ENJOYS THE MOST EXTREME SEXUAL BEHAVIOR,
ACCORDING TO INMATE: EXAMPLE: TO "TAKE ON" FOUR DUDES AT
ONCE OR THE INMATE WHO PURPORTEDLY HAS THE "BIGGEST DICK IN THE
JOINT"; AN INMATE WILLING TO SIT ON A SHAMPOO BOTTLE

SWAP ARTIST

SWAPS SEX ROLES FOR MONEY, WILL HAVE ANY KIND OF SEX AS LONG AS
THEY’RE PAID

SWAP OUT PARTNERS

TRADE ONE SEXUAL FAVOR FOR ANOTHER; "SOME GUYS WILL TRICK
GUYS INTO GIVING UP SEX BY PERFORMING AN ACT ON THEM FIRST AND
THEN LET THEM DO IT TO THEM"; MAY ALSO BE USED TO DENOTED SWAP
OUT PARTNERS--FLIP FLOPS

SWEAT MASTER

AN INMATE WHO AGGRESSIVELY SWEATS SOMEONE FOR SEX

SWEET EYES

WATCHING SOMEONE MASTURBATE

THE COMMANDER

MALE IN A RELATIONSHIP; TERM OF REFERENCE

THE HOLE

A SEGREGATION HOUSING UNIT

THE KING

MALE IN A RELATIONSHIP; TERM OF REFERENCE

THE MAN

THE MALE IN A MAN-FAG,

THEY DONE TORE UP MY
ASS

WHO PREFER ROUGH SEX

MAN-HOMOSEXUAL RELATIONSHIP
EXPRESSION DENOTING ROUGH SEX; CONSENSUAL SEX; USED BY DUDES

THIRSTY

TO BUY SEX AS ONE WOULD ON THE STREET

THIRSTY BOYS

SAME AS BOOTIE BANDIT

THIRSTY MAGURSKI

SAME AS BOOTIE BANDIT; SYNONYM OF CUM GUZZLER

THOROUGH [NOUN]

AS IN "THOROUGH DUDE" OR "THOROUGH PENITENTIARY" MEANING
TOUGH

THREE-FOUR-FIVE-FIVEO'CLOCK-IN-THEMORNING BOYS

RAPISTS IN DORMITORY HOUSING WHO TAKES BOOTIE IN THE VERY
EARLY MORNING

THUNDERCAT

YOUNG GIRL IN THE MIX

TIP

TO HAVE PREFERENCE, SUCH AS 'TO BE ON THE FEMININE TIP,' A MALE
INMATE WOULD SAY

TO ADOPT

TO ACQUIRE SONS

TO BE BULLIED

TO FORCE A DUDE TO DO SOMETHING HE DOESN'T WANT TO DO; SOME
DUDES ARE BULLIED INTO SEX

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

293
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

TO BE CURIOUS;
CURIOSITY

NEAR SYNONYM OF 'TENDENCIES'; CONNOTES OF AN EXPERIMENT TO
ENGAGE IN HOMOSEXUAL RATHER THAN A NATURAL INCLINATION; AN
INMATE CAN BE CURIOUS SEVERAL TIMES WITHOUT BEING DEMEANED AS
WEAK OR HAVING TENDENCIES; TERM HAS A NATIONAL DISTRIBUTION;
COMMONLY USED IN MEN'S AND WOMEN'S PRISON

TO BE ON THE DOWN
LOW

TO KEEP ONE'S SEXUAL BEHAVIOR IN SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS HIDDEN;
A STRAIGHT WHO ENGAGES IN SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS AS THE MAN
OR FAG; SOMETIMES THOUGHT TO BE DISRESPECT TO OTHER INMATES;
BEING HONEST ABOUT SEXUAL ORIENTATION INSIDE IS THE SAME AS
OUTSIDE IS NOT DISRESPECTFUL AND WILL PREVENT HOSTILITY

TO BE PUSSY ALL THE
TIME

REFERENCE TO A MAN INMATE WHO WAS SEXUALLY ASSAULTED AND
DOES NOT RETALIATE; EXAMPLE: "HE WAS PUSSY ALL THE TIME."
DENOTES A GIRL-BOY.

TO BE PUT UNDER AN
UMBRELLA

SOMEONE WHO IS PROTECTED FROM SEXUAL ASSAULT BY ASSOCIATION
WITH A STRONG PERSON OR GANG

TO BE RECRUITED

TO CAJOLE AND ENCOURAGE A WOMAN INMATE INTO A SEXUAL
RELATIONSHIP (ANALOGOUS TO SORORITY RECRUITMENT)

TO BE STUPID

UNAWARE OF SOCIAL GAMES OF INMATES, ESPECIALLY THOSE THAT
LEAD TO UNWANTED SEX OR RAPE

TO BE TURNED OUT ALL
THE WAY

TO HAVE A NEW EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL INVOLVEMENT IN
HOMOSEXUALITY; INMATES WHO WERE FORCED THE FIRST TIME AND
NOW DO IT WILLINGLY: "SO AND SO'S BEEN TURNED ALL THE WAY OUT,
SOMEONE TOOK IT FROM THEM AND AFTER THAT HE HAD NO PROBLEM
GIVING IT UP, HE STARTED SHAVING HIS LEGS AND WEARING MAKEUP"

TO BE WEAK

TO BE UNABLE TO PROTECT ONE SELF FROM THE PRESSURES OF PRISON
LIFE

TO BE WORKED

A FORM OF MANIPULATION; 'TELL A YOUNG UNATTRACTIVE GIRL SHE'S
PRETTY JUST TO GET HER COMMISSARY'; A WOMAN INMATE BEING
WORKED MAY HAVE SEX WITH ONLY THE WORKMAN WORKING HER; IF A
WOMAN BEING WORKED HAS SEX WITH OTHER WOMEN, SHE ASSUMES
PASSIVE ROLE

TO BEAT IT

SAME AS TO FUCK SOMEONE

TO BREAK THE BACK
DOOR

TO BE THE RECIPIENT IN ANAL SEX

TO CAP SOMEONE

SYNONYM FOR TO GIVE A BLOW JOB

TO CON

SAME TO RUNNING A GAME

TO CRAP ON A DUDE

TO ASK A DUDE IF HE IS INTERESTING IN HAVING SEX; A GAY MIGHT CRAP
ON A GUY, ASKING "DO YOU FUCK AROUND"

TO CROSS OUT

TO GET SOMEONE IN TROUBLE, OR GET BACK AT SOMEONE (WOMEN)

TO CROSS YOU OUT

USED BY WOMEN INMATES; TO CREATE A BOGUS CASE ON SOMEONE AND
THEN TELL STAFF; EXAMPLE: SNITCH OFF THAT AN INMATE HAS ILLEGAL
DRUGS, OR THAT A WOMAN HAS AN AFFAIR WITH A MALE OR FEMALE

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

294
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE
STAFF MEMBER.

TO DATE

TO SHARE MEALS AND ACTIVITIES; SEX WITHOUT COMMITMENT

TO FLIP-FLOP

THE ACTIVITY OF SWITCHING SEX ROLES, MALE TO FEMALE, FEMALE TO
MALE

TO FUCK SOMEONE

TERM USED TO DENOTE ROUGH SEX:
TONIGHT"

TO FUCK THE SHIT OUT
OF SOMEONE

SAME AS TO FUCK SOMEONE; USED TO INDICATED A MORE LENGTHY SEX
ACT THAN A QUICKIE; OFTEN TWO TO THREE MINUTES

TO GET HIS GET BACK

RETALIATION FOR A VIOLENT OR DISRESPECTFUL ACT

TO GET DOWN LIKE
THAT

A PROPENSITY TOWARD HOMOSEXUAL OR NON-HOMOSEXUAL BEHAVIOR;
"THE DUDE DON'T GET DOWN LIKE THAT"

TO GET HOOKED UP

A WAY OF BONDING WITH ANOTHER INMATE WHO SHARES SEXUAL
PREFERENCES; A GAY MAY APPROACH AN INMATE AND ASK "DO YOU
FUCK AROUND?"

TO GET OFF ON
HOMOSEXUALITY

TO BECOME A HOMOSEXUAL IN THE CONTEXT OF WEAK OUTSIDE FAMILY
TIES

TO GET ON THE WAGON

TO ENTER A PRISON AS A NEW INMATE

TO GET OUT

TO LET HOMOSEXUALS KNOW YOU ARE A HOMOSEXUAL; "TO LET THE
LADIES KNOW YOU'RE A FAG"

TO GET RUN IN

TO HAVE A GRIEVANCE FILED ON A PRISON OFFICER BY AN INMATE,
ALLEGING MISBEHAVIOR--WOMEN

TO GET SKULL

WOMEN'S PRISON USED TO DENOTE ORAL SEX; USAGE:
SOME SKULL"; "LET ME RIDE YOUR DOME"

TO GET TOGETHER OFF
THE RIP

TWO MEN WHO BOND QUICKLY AND FORM A PERMANENT RELATIONSHIP;
SEX HAPPENS QUICKLY IF MEN GET TOGETHER OFF THE RIP

TO GIVE FACE

TO GIVE ORAL SEX

TO GIVE HEAD

TO GIVE ORAL SEX

TO GIVE IT UP

TO RELINQUISH TO THE PRESSURE FOR SEX

TO GO BOTH WAYS

INMATES WHO SWITCH BETWEEN MALE AND FEMALE ROLE IN A SEX ACT

TO HATE ON SOMEONE

AN INTENTIONAL ACT OF HATRED TOWARD SOMEONE; NON-VIOLENT ACT
OF DISLIKE. EXAMPLE: "A JEALOUS WOMAN WRITES A WOMAN’S
FAMILY AND TELLS HER PARENTS THEIR DAUGHTER IS GAY. DONE TO
GET GIRL’S PARENTS GET PISSED AND STOP SENDING MONEY."

TO HAVE A FULL
LOCKER

USED IN REFERENCE TO A LOCKER BEING FULL OF COMMISSARY ITEMS AS
A RESULT OF 'COMMISSARY QUEEN' TRADING COMMISSARY ITEMS FOR
SEX

TO HAVE A REP

TO HAVE ACQUIRED A REPUTATION FOR VIOLENCE

TO HAVE SOMEONE
UNDER YOUR WING

"I GOT HIM UNDER MY WING"

"I WANT YOU TO FUCK ME

"CAN I HAVE

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

295
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

TO HAVE TENDENCIES;
TENDENCIES

TO EXPRESS A NATURAL DESIRE, EVER SO SLIGHTLY, TO ENGAGE IN
HOMOSEXUALITY; ALSO USE AS 'TENDENCIES TO BE WEAK' THAT LEAD TO
HOMOSEXUALITY; CONNOTES AN INMATE WHO MAY LIKELY CHOOSE A
HOMOSEXUAL LIFESTYLE WITHOUT A PREJUDICIAL RESPONSE FROM
OTHER INMATES, IF THE INMATE DID NOT EXPRESS WEAKNESS BUT
NATURAL DESIRE; ALSO CONNOTES THAT A NATURAL DESIRE TO BE
HOMOSEXUAL IS BEING RECOGNIZED; TERM HAS A NATIONAL
DISTRIBUTION; USED COMMONLY IN MEN'S AND WOMEN'S PRISONS

TO HIT IT

SAME AS TO FUCK SOMEONE; WOMEN'S USAGE INCLUDES TO USE A DILDO
ON ONESELF

TO HIT IT

TO HAVE SEX IN AN AGGRESSIVE MANNER
"I'M HOGGING HIM" MEANS TO TAKE SOMEONE'S MONEY AND

TO HOG SOMEONE

POSSESSIONS
TO HUSTLE

TO PERFORM ACTIVITIES THAT GENERATE VALUABLE RESOURCES, SUCH
AS DRUG SELLING OR SEX

TO KILL

TO MASTURBATE; "KILL ON SOMEBODY"; KILLER-AN INCIDENT OF BEING
A KILLER. CONNOTES PUBLIC (V. PRIVATE) MASTURBATION

TO LEAVE IT AT THE
GATE

EXPRESSION USED IN MEN'S PRISON TO DENOTE THAT SAME-SEX
RELATIONS WAS A HUSTLE BUT NOT AN INDICATION THAT INMATES IS
HOMOSEXUAL; APPLIES EVEN IF A MAN WAS TURNED OUT; "AS LONG AS
YOU LEAVE IT AT THE GATE, IT’S JUST A HUSTLE"

TO LET ME HIT IT

"I WANT A HIT"; TO WANT ANAL SEX

TO LET SOMEONE TAKE
HIM

TERM OF REFERENCE FOR RAPE VICTIM

TO LOCK UP

TO TAKE REFUGE IN PROTECTION CUSTODY

TO LOSE MANHOOD

TO HAVE HAD ANAL SEX; DUDE HAS THEN LOST MANHOOD

TO MARRY

WOMEN'S PRISON: TO HAVE PUBLIC CEREMONY IN A CELL HOUSE,
PROCLAIMING THE PERMANENCE OF A RELATIONSHIP; GUESTS ARE
INVITED, VOWS ARE EXCHANGED; RICE MAY THROWN, CAKE EATEN IF
PURCHASED IN COMMISSARY

TO PRESS SOMEONE

SYNONYM OF TO SWEAT SOMEONE

TO PRESSURE

TERM USED INSTEAD OF RAPE; RAPE IS THOUGHT NOT TO OCCUR; AN
INMATE IS PRESSURED INTO SEX BUT NOT RAPED

TO PULL UP ON
SOMEONE

TO AGGRESSIVELY CONFRONT SOMEONE; TO PULL UP ON SOMEONE IN AN
EFFORT TO PRESSURE FOR SEX

TO PUNK SOMEONE OUT

GENERAL EXPRESSION, TURN-OUT SOMEONE

TO RIDE HEAD

WOMEN WHO LIKE TO RECEIVE HEAD

TO RIDE SOMEONE

TO HAVE ANAL SEX

TO RIP SOMEONE OFF

TO VIOLENTLY TAKE BOOTIE; "DUDE WAS RIPPED OFF"

TO SHOOT

TO MASTURBATE; SYNONYM: TO KILL'';
TO SHOOT HER DOWN"

"I SHOT HIM DOWN"; "I'D LIKE

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

296
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE

TO STAY ALL THE WAY
AWAY FROM
HOMOSEXUALS

TO AVOID INTERPERSONAL CONTACT WITH HOMOSEXUALS; A STRATEGY
TO AVOID BEING DRAWN INTO A SEX ROLE

TO STAY OUT OF THE
WAY

TO AVOID INVOLVEMENT IN THE SEX SCENE

TO STRADDLE THE
FENCE

A FEMALE BISEXUAL

TO STRETCH OUT;
STRETCHING OUT

TO MASTURBATE; "TO STRETCH OUT" AS IN "A MASTURBATOR
STRETCHES OUT"

TO STUD-UP

A PUNK TRYING TO GO BACK TO BEING A MAN.
OTHER MANLY THINGS TO ACCOMPLISH THIS

TO SWAP OUT

SYNONYM OF 'TO GO BOTH WAYS'; "YOU DON'T KNOW WHO THE MAN OR
WOMAN IS"

TO SWEAT SOMEONE

TO PRESSURE SOMEONE; DOES NOT NECESSARILY REFER TO ONLY SEX

TO TAKE IT [ANAL SEX]

SYNONYM OF FORCED SEX

TO TAKE IT IN THE SHOE

TO BE THE RECIPIENT IN ANAL SEX

TO TAKE IT TO YOU

SAME AS 'TO FUCK SOMEONE'

TO TAKE ON

TO HAVE SEX WITH SOMEONE VOLUNTARILY; A RAPE VICTIM IS NOT
TAKEN ON

TO TAKE SOME ASS

SYNONYM OF TO RIP SOMEONE OFF

TO TAKE SOMEONE
UNDER YOUR WING

"I TOOK HIM UNDER MY WING"

TO TAP OUT

TO SUCCUMB TO SEXUAL PRESSURE; "DUDE HAD TO TAP OUT"

TO TEAR IT UP

SAME AS TO FUCK SOMEONE WITH THE CONNOTATION OF AGGRESSIVE
SEX; USED BY AGGRESSOR ("I TORE UP THAT ASS") AND AGGRESSEE ("I
WANT YOU TO TEAR IT UP")

TO TRY SOMEONE

TO CHALLENGE SOMEONE AS IN "DUDE WALKED RIGHT UP AND TRIED ME"

TO TRY TO TIE UP LOOSE
ENDS

SAME AS PAY BACK

TO TURN [SOMEBODY]
OUT; A TURNOUT

TURN OUT ISN'T REALLY GAY BUT A KIND OF CROSS-OVER; A MAN OR
WOMAN WHO HAS 'TENDENCIES'

TO TURN SOMEONE OUT

TO RELEASE SOMEONE; TO LET SOMEONE GO; TO RELEASE SAME-SEX
DESIRES; THERE ARE MANY FORMS OF RELEASE OR LETTING OUT THE
INSIDE SAME-SEX TENDENCIES OF INMATES; PROCESS OF COVERTLY
PRESSURING SOMEONE FOR SEX; THE OUTCOME OF THE PRESSURE IS SEX;
AN INMATE TURNS OUT ANOTHER BY, FOR EXAMPLE, COVERTLY PUTTING
THE TARGET IN DEBT TO HIM BY SHARING CIGARETTES OR CANDY OR
BEFRIENDING HIM AND OFFERING PROTECTION

TRADE, JOHN

A MAN; "YOU KNOW GIRL, YOU KNOW HE'S TRADE"

TRANSFORMER

QUEENS OR PUNKS THAT “TRANSFORM” TO MEN WHEN NEEDED.

THEY CAN FIGHT OR DO

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

IT

297
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE
BROUGHT THE MAN OUT.

TREE JUMPER

SEXUAL PREDATOR

TREY

SYNONYM OF JOHN

TRICK

DUDE WHO BUYS SEX

TRUCK-DRIVING DRAG
HEAD

FLIP FLOP

TRUCK-DRIVING DRAG
HEAD [DRAG QUEEN]

MALE INMATES; TO CHANGE SEXUAL APPEARANCE; EXAMPLE: "DUDE
LOOKS MALE SOME DAYS BUT OTHER DAYS HE'S A QUEEN."

TRUE GUYS

INMATES WHO FEEL THAT OTHERS ARE TRYING TO ATTACH THEMSELVES
TO THEM IN ORDER TO STAY SAFE

TRY-SEXUAL

WILL HAVE SEX WITH ANYTHING

VETERAN, VET

A VET IS A SYNONYM OF QUEEN, AN OLDER 'WOMAN' WHO HAS BEEN IN
THE LIFESTYLE A LONG TIME

VIRGINITY

TO HAVE NEVER PARTICIPATED IN ANAL SEX

WAR PLAYING

FLIP FLOP

WATER HEAD
WEAK-MINDED

GIVER OF SEX; THE GIVER OF ORAL SEX
SOMEONE WHO WILL HAVE SEX WITH OR GIVE COMMISSARY OR MONEY
TO SOMEONE IN ORDER TO ESTABLISH A SOCIAL TIE TO SOMEONE WHO
HAS MANY FRIENDS; A PROCESS OF BUILDING A SAFE ZONE; WEAKMINDED CONNOTES THE INABILITY TO SOLVE, OR THINK THROUGH, A
PROBLEM; OPPOSITE OF STRONG-MINDED--A STRONG-MINDED PERSON
HAS AN ABILITY TO MANIPULATE AND THINK THROUGH AN ISSUE AND
KEEP HIMSELF OUT OF TROUBLE. "IF YOU HAVE A PRETTY BIG ANGER
PROBLEM, YOU’RE WEAK MINDED; IF YOU’RE IMPULSIVE AND CAN’T
THINK OF WHAT YOU’RE GOING TO SAY BEFORE YOU SAY, YOU’RE WEAKMINDED." WEAK-MINDED REFERS TO INABILITY TO CONTROL EMOTIONS.

WHITE SHIRT

INSTITUTION MANAGER AND ADMINISTRATORS

WIFE

MALE INMATE IN A FEMALE ROLE IN A LONG-TERM MAN-FAG MARRIAGE;
THE MAN MAY CALL HIS WIFE HIS HO OR HIS MOMMY ("SHE'S MY WIFE;
SHE'S MY MOMMY")

WIFE

A DEROGATORY TERM IDENTIFYING A FEMALE PARTNER WHO WILL NOT
OBEY "HER" MAN'S COMMANDS; CONNOTATION OF A WIFE APPROACHES
THAT OF STREET PROSTITUTE; "DUDES DON'T WANT A PROSTITUTE, THEY
WANT A HO WHO WILL DO ANYTHING FOR THEIR DUDE"; "A HO IS WAY UP
[HIGH VALUE, PRAISED], A HOUSEWIFE IS DOWN LOW"

WING GIRL

A FEMME WHO IS THE OBJECT OF SEX ONLY IN A HOUSING UNIT; WING
GIRL HAS SEX WITH A STUD BROAD ONLY INSIDE A HOUSING UNIT; THE
STUD BROAD HAS SEX WITH OTHER FEMMES ON THE COMPOUND

WOLF

INMATES WHO ARE SEXUALLY AGGRESSIVE; USED GENERICALLY TO
CONNOTE AGGRESSOR, AS IN WOLF AND LION, AND VICTIM; NOT
COMMONLY USED IN NATURAL SPEECH; USED AS A PARAPHRASE IN

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

298
TERM/EXPRESSION

DEFINITIONS: DENOTATIVE & CONNOTATIVE MEANINGS;
CONTEXTUAL USAGE
SPEECH SITUATIONS WITH OUTSIDERS WHO INMATES BELIEVE DO NOT
UNDERSTAND PRISON-TERM NUANCES

WOOD PILE

A GROUP OF PECKERWOODS

YUCK MAN

HAS HAD A LOT OF FEMALE PARTNERS IN ORAL SEX

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

299

Appendix B: Interview Protocol

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

300
Interviewer (initials):
Date:
Start Time:
DEMOGRAPHICS
Age:
Race:
Street Sexual Orientation (Straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual):
In what city did you grow up?
Currently married?
How long have you been married this time?
How many times have you been married?
Divorced?
Married before this imprisonment or while in prison?
Children?
Where’s the baby daddies/mommies?
Does this institution have conjugal visits?
Current Living Unit:
Months in the living unit:
Inmate Count:
Unit Style:
Number of inmates in the cell:

PRISON HISTORY
Current conviction offense:
Sentence:
How many months have you been in prison on this conviction?

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

301
Number of times in prison on separate convictions, except for this one?
Total months in state prison:
Total months in federal prison:
Age first admitted to adult prison:
Age first time in juvie:
Total number of months spent in juvie?
Where?
How many times have you been to the hole?
For what?
MENTAL HEALTH
How would you describe your family history?
MH_FamHist:
When you were coming up, did an adult, relative, friend or someone you trust abuse you?
(abuse means to punch, kick, slap, hit with hand or object that caused bruises, contusions,
broken bones or emergency medical treatment)
MH_Abuse:
Did you have an adolescent or adult same-sex experience on the street?
MH_SameSex:
Have you ever been treated for mental health issues on the street as a result of something
you did in school or in your family or neighborhood?
MH_Treat_Street:
Have you ever voluntarily requested mental health treatment in prison?
MH_Treat_Prison:

RAPE
Reasons inmates get raped?
Rape_Reasons:
Ways inmates try to prevent being raped
Rape_Prevent:
If an inmate were to be raped, where would it occur?

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

302
Rape_Where:
What time of day is rape most likely?
Rape_When:
Ever know a rapist who was killed?
Rape_Rapist_Kill:
Ever know a rape victim who was killed?
Rape_Victim_Kill:
Ever known a rape victim who committed suicide?
Rape_Victim_Suicide:
Is there one-on-one rape?
Rape_One_on_One:
Is there group rape? Why?
Rape_Group:
How do predators choose a rape victim?
Rape_Choose:
Who is most vulnerable to rape? (Age? Race?)
Rape_Who_Vulnerable:
What’s the reputation of raped inmates?
Rape_Reputation:
Does a rape victim’s reputation depend on why he/she was raped?
Rape_Reputation_Depend:
Do you think a dude is entitled to the sex he has taken?
Rape_Entitle:
What is the reputation of a rapist/predator?
Rape_Rapist_Reputation:
If someone is raped, will their friends retaliate?
Rape_Retaliate:
What happens to someone who is raped and doesn’t lock up?
Rape_Lockup:
What happens to the quality of life in the cell house after someone gets raped?
Rape_Quality_of_Life:

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

303

Are people worried about rape? Is it a big threat?
Rape_Worry:
What are your recommendations to prevent rape?
Rape_Prevent_Recs:
Do you know for sure of a rape in this institution or any other prison you’ve been in?
Rape_Know_Of:
Can you give a general description of what happened without identifying the specific
people involved in the event? Was it one-on-one, group, gang-related? Where did it
occur? What time of day did it occur?
Rape_Know_Of_Description:
If you haven’t seen a rape firsthand, have you overhead an inmate being raped? What did
you hear? When did it occur? Where?
Rape_First_Hand:
Have you ever seen a rape, like in the movies?
Rape_Movies:
Is there rape folklore—like stories about notorious rapists of long ago?
Rape_Folklore:
Is raping an inmate the same as turning out an inmate?
Rape_Turn:
How many different ways can an inmate get turned out/worked/played? For example, an
inmate can get involved in gambling and pay debt with sex; or smoke someone’s squares
and pay off with sex. Tell me about each different situation you can think of?
Turn_How:
What does it mean to be weak-minded?
Weak_Mind:
What does it mean to be strong-minded?
Strong_Mind:
How does money or commissary work in relation to sex?
Sex_Money:
How does money or commissary work in relation to rape?
Rape_Money:

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

304
What is the best way to avoid getting involved in the sex scene?
Sex_Scene_Involve:
Has an inmate ever been attracted to you? What happened?
Sex_Attracted:
How does an inmate who wants sex inside get hooked up?
Sex_Hooked_Up:
FREE LISTS
Reasons inmates have sex with other inmates?
FL_Why_Sex:
In what ways do officers try to prevent inmates from having sex?
FL_How_Prevent_Sex:
Common places inmates have sex in the living unit
FL_Sex_LivingUnit:
Common places inmates have sex outside of the living unit?
FL_Sex_NonLivingUnit:

SOCIAL DYNAMICS
What does “taking someone under your wing” mean?
SD_UnderWing:
We’ve heard that inmates sometime use terms like the ones we use outside for family
members. Do people use these terms in this institution?
SD_Family:
What are the basic family dynamics?
SD_Family_Dynamics:
What roles do each member play?
SD_Family_Roles:
Does protection from rape work within the family?
SD_Family_Rape:
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE/RELATIONSHIPS
Do couples in here date like couples on the street?
DV_Date:

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

305

Are there special terms for these couples?
DV_Couple_Terms:
Ever seen anything in here you’d call domestic violence? Example:
DV_DV:
Why would there be DV in a short-term relationship:
DV_Short_Term:
Why would there be DV in a long-term relationship:
DV_Long_Term:
Is rape more likely in a short- or long-term relationship?
DV_Rape_Likely:

LEXICAL
What are the names of the players in the sex scene. Don’t give us their personal names.
LX_Players:
What do you call the dominant player:
LX_Players_Doms:
What do you call the passive player:
LX_Players_Passives:
Terms for an inmate who buys sex:
LX_Sex_Buyers:
Terms for an inmate who sells sex:
LX_Sex_Sellers:
Terms for an inmate who sells sex for drugs:
LX_Drugs_Sellers:
Terms for an inmate who sweats someone for sex:
LX_Sex_Sweaters:
Terms for an inmate who forces someone into sex:
LX_Sex_Forcers:
Terms for an inmate who is forced into sex:
LX_Sex_Forcees:

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

306
Term for inmates who were forced into sex the first time but then continues because they
like it?
LX_Sex_LikeIt:
What types of sex activities are most common? What are the terms for each type:
LX_Sex_Acts_Most:
What types of sex activities are least common? What are the terms for each type:
LX_Sex_Acts_Least:
Terms for calm sex:
LX_Sex_Calm:
Terms for rough sex:
LX_Sex_Rough:
Terms for really rough sex:
LX_Sex_Really_Rough:
Terms for inmates who go both ways:
LX_Sex_Bothways:
Terms for inmates who go one way in one relationship and another way in another:
LX_Sex_Bothways_Situation:
Terms for inmates who are in the closet?
LX_Sex_Closet:
Terms for running a stable?
LX_Sex_Stable:
SOCIAL PROCESS
Which groups have power in prison?
SP_Power_Who:
What does it mean to have power in prison?
SP_Power_What:
Group and Sexual Relations
A. What are the different gangs, religions and races in this prison?
B. Name each group:
Which groups would most likely rape them?
Which groups would they most likely rape?

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

307

G=Gang
R=Race
Rel=Relig
ion

What are the
different gangs,
religions and races in
this prison?

Which groups
would most
likely rape
them?

Why

Which groups
would they
most likely
rape?

Why

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12

How is sex or rape influenced by religion?
SP_Religion_Rape:
Do members of the groups have consensual sex?
SP_Withingroup_Sex:
What relation are predators to these groups?
SP_Groups_Predators:
Are there groups whose members are rape victims more than other groups?
SP_Groups_Rape_Victims:
Are there all-out homosexuals in each group?
SP_Groups_Homosex:
Do homosexuals have power?
SP_Homosex_Power:
Do homosexuals hold important jobs?
SP_Homosex_Jobs:

STAFF
Do you know any cool officers?
Staff_Cool:
Do officers try to prevent rape?
Staff_Rape_Prevent:

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

308
Can homosexuals influence staff to get favors for themselves or others?
Staff_Homsex_Influence:
Do inmates ever say they got raped just to play the staff?
Staff_Rape_Play:
Do you know cases of officers and inmates having sex?
Staff_Sex_Inmate:
Have you ever known a case when an inmate played a staff member for sex and then had
the staff member smuggle in drugs or weapons or Wendy’s hamburgers, or something
like that? Tell me the story
Staff_Sex_Inmates_Examples:
How do other inmates react to officer-inmate sex?
Staff_Sex_Inmate_InmateReact:
How do other officers react to officer-inmate sex?
Staff_Sex_Inmate_StaffReact:
Do you know cases of officers raping inmates?
Staff_Rape_Officer:
How does the institution try to protect inmates from rape?
Institution_Rape_Prevent:
If an inmate is pressed for sex and transfers does that solve the problem?
Staff_Rape_Transfer:
If an inmate is pressed for sex and goes to PC are they safe?
Staff_Rape_PC:
What do officers do if someone is being pressed for sex?
Staff_Sex_Press:
Have you known a case when someone was raped and reported it to an officer?
Staff_Rape_Reported:
Is reporting a rape considered snitching?
Staff_Rape_Snitch:
When you came to prison did anyone ever tell you what to do if someone was sweating
you for sex?
Staff_Sex_Prepare:

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

309
Have you ever heard officers talking about a rape?
Staff_Rape_Officer_Talk:

INSTITUTIONAL FACTORS
How can inmates who have been raped get help?
Institution_Rape_Help:
Can the system protect you from rape?
Institution_Rape_Protect:
Are rape guidelines posted on bulletin boards?
Institution_Rape_Post:

PERCEPTION OF SOCIAL ROLES
Of 100 general population inmates,
How many are all-out gay?
Num_Gay:
How many are straight and not down low?
Num_Straight:
How many are on the down low?
Num_DownLow:
How many Men/studs are there?
Num_Studs:
How many Punks/ Femmes are there?
Num_Fems:
How many couples would there be?
Num_Couples:
FINAL QUESTIONS
Interview End Time:
Final Comments:
Interviewer_Comments:

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

310

Appendix C: Sampling Procedure

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

311
Instructions to Systematically Select Inmate Interviewees
Please select inmates housed in the general population. Special inmate populations
should not be included in the selection procedure. The following categories of inmates
must be excluded: inmates in administrative detention; disciplinary segregation;
hospitalized inmates; inmates in residential substance abuse units; inmates in mental
heath residential units; protective custody; non-sentenced inmates; inmates in transit
units; and INS detainees or deportees.
A single interviewer can reasonably interview six inmates per day. We will have three
interviewers. Given that inmates may wish to bypass the interview, let us plan to
interview 20 inmates per day. The total number of potential inmate interviewees is
determined by summing 20 inmates by the number of interview days. Thus, four days of
interviewing will require 80 inmates.
Here is the procedure for the systematic selection of inmates. Divide the institution
population by the total number of potential inmate interviewees. This procedure gives
yields an interval number. Ask someone to pick a number in the range of 1 up to the
[interval number]. The number just picked is the first interviewee. To select the second
inmate, add the interval number to the number of the first inmate selected. Continue this
pattern until required number of interviewees is selected.
For example, if an institution has 1000 inmates, divide 1000 by 40, to get the interval
number 25. In the range of 1 to 25, someone may select the number 3. Add 25 to 3 to
get 28. Add 25 to 28 to get 53. Add 25 to 53 to get 78 and so on. The inmates chosen to
be interviewed will be those whose name appears 3rd, 28th, 53rd, 78th and so on, on the
roster of general population inmates.
If inmates are to be placed on call out, we would like to interview selected inmates in the
order of their selection. If an inmate is unavailable, please skip that inmate and move to
the next one on the roster.
We prefer to do “just-in-time” interviews; that is, inmates should arrive at the interview
area just in time to be interviewed. Please do not hold inmates in a tank over a period of
hours. Once finished, an interviewed inmate should not be placed even temporarily with
non-interviewed inmates.
Please remember that inmates should only be told they have been selected for a research
study and that the researchers will explain the purpose of the study. Staff should not ask
selected inmates to sign informed consent forms. Interviewers will explain the research
and ask for interview approval from inmate volunteers.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

312

Appendix D: Protocol Modification

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

313
On-Site Staff Responses to Unanticipated Events
Here is a list of instructions that we will implement inside correctional facilities.
If inmates are placed on call-out, their arrival at the interview area should be timed so
that inmates do not wait too long among other selected inmates. A wait of five to 10
minutes is acceptable. When an interview ends, an interviewed inmate should be placed
in a holding area only with inmates who have been interviewed. Interview rooms should
be in a location (or locations) that protects as much as possible the anonymity of inmate
interviewees.
Corrections staff (line officers to senior-most staff) should not interfere in any
way once an interview begins. If a staff member’s office is used as an interview area,
neither that staff member nor any other staff member may open the door and walk into
the room for any reason. Should such a situation occur, the interviewer will cease the
interview and may discontinue that, and subsequent interviews and exit the institution if,
after consultation with PI, it has been determined by the research team that such
interference is a deliberate attempt to disrupt the interview process. An indicator of a
deliberate attempt to disrupt the interview process is, for example, a staff member that
repeatedly enters one or more interview rooms during the course of interviews. We will
make the decision to cease research on the side of caution. If such a situation occurs, the
PI will request to speak with the warden or the senior-most official in the institution, in
order to discuss the situation. Should the warden choose not to intervene and prevent
deliberate interview disruptions, the research team will exit the institution.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

314
If staff members collect inmate informed consent statements prior to research
interviews, the inmate who signed the informed consent statement will be disqualified
from research participation. The institution may be disqualified if the Principal
Investigator believes that the prior signing of an informed consent statement was more
than a simple logistic error. Institution disqualification will occur if more than several
inmates signed informed consent statements prior to their interviews. If such a situation
occurs, the PI will request to speak with the warden or the senior-most official in the
institution in order to discuss the situation. Should the warden choose not to prevent the
recurrence of such prior inmate signatures on informed consent statements, the research
team will exit the institution.
Correctional staff may not choose inmate interviewees. Should an institution
place inmates on call-out prior to the arrival of the research team, the Principal
Investigator must review the general-population roster used to systematically select
inmate interviewees. The appearance of a deliberate deviation in the systematic selection
procedure of inmate interviewees will disqualify an inmate and may result in the
disqualification of an institution if it appears to the Principal Investigator that inmate
selection was purposely manipulated. In such a case, the PI will request to speak with the
warden or senior-most institution administrator.
The nature of the interviews requires the availability of psychological services or
in the absence of an on-site psychologist or psychiatrist, psychological treatment must be
readily available to an inmate in an anonymous and confidential manner should the
inmate consent to such treatment. If institution-based psychological treatment is
unavailable, the PI will discuss with the warden or senior-most institution official the

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

315
logistics of transporting an inmate, within a reasonable time period of less than two
hours, to a local mental health facility or as an alternative, making an emergency phone
call a local psychologist or psychiatrist who will treat the inmate at the institution within
a reasonable period of less than two hours.

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

316

Appendix E: Thematic Codebook

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

317

Code Book: Thematic Codes
1. Inmate
a. Organization
i. Race (any discussion where race is relevant) T_Inmate_Race
ii. Gang (any discussion of inmate gangs) T_Inmate_Gang
iii. Religion (any discussion where religion is relevant to sex/violence)
T_Inmate_Religion
b. Inmate Relationships
i. Individual relationships (generic code for dyads, sexual
relationships, including marriage & wedding ceremonies)
T_Inmate_Relations
ii. Stables/Slavery (any discussion of sexual slavery, pimping, stables,
etc) T_Inmate_Stable
iii. Being on the down low, undercover, or hiding their sexual
relationship T_Inmate_DL
c. Inmate Social roles (use relevant anytime these roles are discussed, or if
someone defines or possesses that trait)
i. Predators: Any T_Inmate_SR_Predator
ii. Victims: T_Inmate_SR_Victim
iii. Queens T_Inmate_SR_Queen
iv. Punks/Boys/Kids/Fags (passive male sex role) T_Inmate_SR_Punk
v. Man/Daddy (dominant male sexual role) T_Inmate_SR_Man
vi. Stud (dominant female sex role) T_Inmate_SR_Stud
vii. Femme (passive female sex role) T_Inmate_SR_Femme
viii. Weak T_Inmate_SR_Weak
ix. Strong T_Inmate_SR_Strong
x. New (new to prison, or young): T_Inmate_SR_New
xi. Old (oldtimer, lifer): T_Inmate_SR_New
xii. Child Molester: T_Inmate_SR_Molester
xiii. Homosexual: T_Inmate_SR_Homosexual
2. Staff (code anytime they are discussed)
a. CO (line staff) T_Staff_CO
b. Rank (administrative) T_Staff_Rank
c. Unit Staff (case managers, counselors, psych, ) T_Staff_Unit
3. Inmate-Staff relationships (these are all bi-directional; inmate < >staff)
a. Sexual (any reference to sex with staff) T_Inmate_Staff_Sex
b. Protection (any reference to staff protecting inmates)
T_Inmate_Staff_Protect

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

318
c. Privileges/Favors (any reference to male/female staff exchanging sex with
male/female inmates for favors) T_Inmate_Staff_Favors
d. Resource exchanges (snitching, exchanging information)
T_Inmate_Staff_Resource
e. Extortion (any reference to staff extorting inmates)
T_Inmate_Staff_Extortion
f. Indifferent (staff “working 8 to 5”; “doing job, no more”; indifference
toward inmates safety and service to inmates) T_Inmate_Staff_Indiff
4. Sex
a. Sex Acts: any description of sexual activities: T_Sex_Acts
i. Objects (non-body parts, dildo-like) T_Sex_Acts_Objects
ii. Masturbation (self or self & partner) T_Sex_Acts_Masturbation
iii. Freaky shit (‘red tea,’ ‘proof-of-love,’ ‘cutting,’ ‘water sports,’
‘cantaloupe,’ etc.) T_Sex_Acts_Fringe
b. Theories of
i. “Everyone does this shit,” “gay for the stay,” “trying to fit in”:
T_Sex_Theory_Everyone
ii. “It’s in ya,” “tendencies”: T_Sex_Theory_InYa
iii. Time/wear-out: T_Sex_Theory_Time
iv. Any other theoretical justification for sex: T_Sex_Theory_Other
c. Reasons For (degrees of consent):
i. “Gay for the stay,” “fitting in”; peer pressure: T_Sex_Why_Peer
ii. Bicurious, just wanted to try it: T_Sex_Why_Curious
iii. “Can get away with it and won’t be labeled,” “prison is more
accepting”: T_Sex_Why_Easy
d. Avoidance strategies/safe zones for not getting involved in sex or rape
i. Individual Behaviors
1. Physical stature (“just being a big guy”)
T_Sex_SZ_Ind_Physical
2. Weapons (carrying shanks, stabbing)
T_Sex_SZ_Ind_Weapon
3. Violence (beating up a big guy, fighting as protection,
prevention) T_Sex_SZ_Ind_Violence
4. Staying to yourself T_Sex_SZ_Ind_Alone
ii. Social Behaviors
1. Protection
a. Individual affiliations—“find a friend,”
“protection,” CODE ALL AS ‘TAKE UNDER
WING’, STRUCTURAL CODE SD_UnderWing
b. Group affiliations—separate codes for gangs and
families T_Sex_SZ_Group_affil

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

319

iii. Institutional Characteristics
1. PC (as a good place they put you; safe; calm)
T_Sex_SZ_Institution_PC
2. Cell type (e.g., single cell) T_Sex_SZ_Institution_Cell
3. Prisney World (safety of the institution, “it’s [sexual
violence] always somewhere else”) T_Sex_SZ_Institution
e. Disease: T_Sex_Disease
i. Use code for any reference to STDs or sexual activity as related in
any to way sexual diseases, such as ‘having sex with someone
known to have AIDS.’
f. Communication:
i. Talking about sex
1. Educating (e.g., process for learning rules, assessing risk,
etc.) T_Sex_Comm_Talk_Educ
2. Status acquisition (e.g., queens gain status about turning the
‘unturnables,’ booty bandits) T_Sex_Comm_Talk_Status
5. Coercion: T_Sex_Coerc
a. Overt Threat of bodily harm (I’ll kill you if you don’t . . . .):
T_Sex_Coerc_Overt
b. Covert Bodily Threat (Victim ‘just’ knows the person will harm them):
T_Sex_Coerc_Covert
c. Obligation (given you all this stuff and you feel obligated even without a
threat; to think sex and dating, reciprocity): T_Sex_Coerc_Oblig
6. Violence (any reference to, in any context)
a. Violence in relation to sex: T_Sex_Violence
b. Violence not related to sex: T_NonSex_Violence
7. Social Control
a. Sex
i. Formal Reasons (people don’t have sex)
1. Reporting mechanisms (incident reports; PC)
T_SC_Sex_Formal_Report
2. Monitoring (Locks, supervision of religious areas, kitchen,
etc., cell checks, cameras) T_SC_Sex_Formal_Monitor
ii. Informal (gang rules; image of homosexual—informal reasons
people don’t have sex) T_SC_Sex_Informal

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been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

320
b. Rape
i. Formal (ways to control rape)
1. Reporting mechanism (formal reports/allegations)
T_SC_Rape_Formal_Report
2. Investigation mechanisms (investigation of major
assaults/killing and link to rape)
T_SC_Rape_Formal_Investigate
3. Monitoring mechanisms (recognizing/knowing unit
inmates, cell doors locked, closet locked, better supervision
in religious area, monitor kitchen, ensure inmates are in
correct cells overnight) T_SC_Rape_Formal_Monitor
ii. Informal (ways to control rape) (‘Cool Guard,’ snitching, staff
relations with homosexuals, image of the rapist)
T_SC_Rape_Informal
8. Enabling Behaviors
a. Sex
i. Staff-Formal: T_En_Sex_Other
1. Poor Monitoring: T_En_Sex_Monitor
2. Not Reporting: T_En_Sex_Report
b. Rape
i. Staff Formal: T_En_Rape_Staff_Other
1. Poor Monitoring: T_En_Rape_Staff_ Monitor
2. Not Reporting or inmates afraid to report:
T_En_Rape_Staff_Report
ii. Staff-Informal
1. Homophobia: T_En_Rape_Staff_Homo
2. Racism: T_En_Rape_Staff_Racism
3. Being stupid (‘not knowing who belongs in what cell’, ‘not
knowing their job’: T_En_Rape_Staff_Naive
4. Attitudes (‘You deserve it cause you’re here’, ‘putting the kid
in with chomo [child molester]’) T_En_Rape_Staff_Atts
5. Informal Communication with Inmates (‘staff tell us
everything,’ ‘staff to inmates things they shouldn’t know)’
T_En_Rape_Staff_Gossip
6. Easy targets; easily manipulated, personal characteristics:
T_En_Rape_Staff_Manip
ii. Inmates enabling rape: T_En_Rape_Inmate_Other
1. Inmate Access to Confidential Information:
T_En_Rape_Inmate_Access
iii. Institutional Enabling Rape: T_En_Rape_Inst_Other
1. Incident Report System, Sanctions (sending both to the hole;
causing non-reporting, being forced to give up the offender)
T_En_Rape_Inst_Report
2. Ineffective punishment (hole is easy, let them put me in there
who cares) T_En_Rape_Inst_Pun

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

321
3. Inmate Movement--Cell or unit changes for no reason are easy
to get, transferring people to other units as a way of
information transfer T_En_Rape_Inst_Move
4. Ignorance of inmates new to the system, naïve:
T_En_Rape_Inst_Newbie
5. PC giving you a bad reputation: T_En_Rape_Inst_PC_Rep
6. PC not being safe, anyone can get there:
T_En_Rape_Inst_PC_Unsafe
7. Poor Conditions of PC, being so uncomfortable that no one
wants to be there: T_En_Rape_Inst_PC_cond
9. Kite/Grievance (any discussion of their use): T_Kites
10. Incidence or Prevalence of Rape (any numbers or guesses at all about sex, rape):
T_Rape_Amount
11. Incidence or Prevalence of Sex (any numbers or guess at all): T_Sex_Amount
12. Other Interesting Stuff (attach Atlas memo to each incident) T_Other_Interest
13. T_Rape: any discussion of rape
14. T_Weapon: any discussion of weapons

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

322

Appendix F: SPSS Codebook

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

323
NIJ_PREA_CODEBOOK
Institution and survey ID
ID
PS (Prison Sex) F (female) M (male) 1-25 (location)
Auto Number auto
Initials of interviewer int_nm
JLK = Dr. Jessie Krienert
MSF = Dr. Mark Fleisher
LDS = Lauren Stevenson
HCR = Heather Rey
Length of interview (in minutes)
Date of Interview

time_min

date

Interview location
place
Identifiers removed

DEMOGRAPHICS
Sex of Respondent
1 = Male
2 = Female

sex

Age of Respondent (at time of interview)

age

Race of Respondent race
1 = Black
2 = White
3 = Hispanic
4 = Other
Street Sexual Orientation (Straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual): sex_pref
1 = Straight
2 = Gay
3 = Bisexual
4 = Transgender
Coded Sexual Preference
1 = Straight
2 = Gay
3 = Bisexual

sex_pref_code

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

324
Currently married?
0 = No
1 = Yes

Married

Married before this imprisonment or while in prison? mar_bef
1 = prior
2 = during
Divorced? (number of times) Divorced
Coded Divorce (Currently divorced) divorced_code
0 = No
1 = Yes
How long have you been married this time? (in months)

mar_long

How many times have you been married? mar_num
Coded number of times married: mar_num_code
0 = Never Married
1 = Married Once
2 = Married Twice
3 = Married 3 or More Times
Children? kids
Coded Number of Children: kids_code
0 = no children
1 = 1 child
2 = 2 children
3 = 3 or more children
Where’s the baby daddies/mommies? babydad
Does this institution have conjugal visits? Conjugal
0 = No
1 = Yes
Months in the living unit: unit_mo
Inmate Count count

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

325
Unit Style: style
Coded Unit Style
1 = single
2 = double
3 = dorm

unit_code

Coded Unit Style
1 = cell
2 = dorm

unit_code_dorm_cell

Number of inmates in the cell:

num_cell

Coded number of inmates in cell:
1 = single
2 = double
3 = dorm

unit_code

PRISON HISTORY
Current Conviction: curr_con
Coded current conviction:
curr_con_code_vio
1 = murder
2 = sex offense
3 = robbery
4 = other violent crime
5 = non-violent crime
6 = drugs
Coded current conviction:
1 = violent
2 = non-violent
3 = drug

curr_con_code

Current Conviction sentence detailed:

long_con

Current sentence in months: sent_mo
How many months have you been in prison on this conviction?

conv_mo

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

326
Number of times in prison on separate convictions, except for this one?

pris_num

Coded prior incarcerations: pris_num_code
0 = None
1=1
2=2
3 = 3 or more
Total months in state prison: state_mo
Coded State Months: state_mo_10
0 = less than 120
1 = 120 or more
Coded State Months state_mo_5_code
0 = 60 or less
1 = more than 60
Total months in federal prison:
fed_mo
Coded Federal Time (ever): fed_mo_code
0 = No
1 = Yes
Age first admitted to adult prison: age_pris
Ever been to juvenile detention?
0 = No
1 = Yes
Age first time in juvie:

juvie

age_juv

Total number of months spent in juvie?

juv_mo

How many times have you been to the hole? hole
Why did you go to the hole? hole_why
MENTAL HEALTH
When you were coming up, did an adult, relative, friend or someone you trust sexually
abuse you? s_abuse
0 = No
1 = Yes
Did you have an adolescent or adult same-sex experience on the street?
0 = No
1 = Yes

Samesex

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

327
Have you ever been treated for mental health issues on the street as a result of something
you did in school or in your family or neighborhood?
mh_st
0 = No
1 = Yes
Have you ever voluntarily requested mental health treatment in prison?
0 = No
1 = Yes

mh_inst

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

328
RAPE
Ever know a rapist who was killed? r_o_kill
0 = No
1 = Yes
Ever know a rape victim who was killed?
0 = No
1 = Yes

r_v_kill

Ever known a rape victim who committed suicide? r_suic
0 = No
1 = Yes
Is there one-on-one rape?
0 = No
1 = Yes
Is there group rape?
0 = No
1 = Yes

r_one

r_group

Do you think a dude is entitled to the sex he has taken?
0 = No
1 = Yes

r_entitl

If someone is raped, will their friends retaliate?
0 = No
1 = Yes

r_retali

Are people worried about rape? Is it a big threat?
0 = No
1 = Yes

r_worry

Do you know for sure of a rape in this or any other prison you’ve been in?
r_witnes
0 = No
1 = Yes
Have you heard about an inmate being raped?
0 = No
1 = Yes
Have you ever seen a rape, like in the movies?
0 = No
1 = Yes

r_hear

r_movie

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

329

Is there rape folklore—like stories about notorious rapists of long ago?
0 = No
1 = Yes
Is raping an inmate the same as turning out an inmate?
0 = No
1 = Yes

r_folk

r_turn

Has an inmate ever been attracted to you? What happened?
0 = No
1 = Yes

s_attrac

FREE LISTS
Do officers try to prevent inmates from having sex? r_preven
0 = No
1 = Yes
SOCIAL DYNAMICS
We’ve heard that inmates sometime use terms like the ones we use outside for family
members. Do people use these terms in this institution?
family
0 = No
1 = Yes
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE/RELATIONSHIPS
Do couples in here date like couples on the street? c_date
0 = No
1 = Yes
Ever seen anything in here you’d call domestic violence?
0 = No
1 = Yes

c_dv

SOCIAL PROCESS
Do homosexuals have power?
0 = No
1 = Yes

h_power

Do homosexuals hold important jobs?
0 = No
1 = Yes

h_jobs

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

330

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

331
STAFF
Do officers try to prevent rape?
0 = No
1 = Yes

r_preve

Can homosexuals influence staff to get favors for themselves or others?
0 = No
1 = Yes
Do inmates ever say they got raped just to play the staff?
0 = No
1 = Yes
Do you know cases of officers and inmates having sex?
0 = No
1 = Yes
Do you know cases of officers raping inmates?
0 = No
1 = Yes

h_favor
U

r_play
U

s_off
U

r_off
U

If an inmate is pressed for sex and transfers does that solve the problem? s_trans
0 = No
1 = Yes
U

If an inmate is pressed for sex and goes to PC are they safe?
0 = No
1 = Yes

s_pc
U

Have you known a case when someone was raped and reported it to an officer?
r_report
0 = No
1 = Yes
U

Is reporting a rape considered snitching?
0 = No
1 = Yes

r_snitch
U

Have you ever heard officers talking about a rape? r_talk
0 = No
1 = Yes
U

INSTITUTIONAL FACTORS
Can the system protect you from rape?

r_protec
U

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

332
0 = No
1 = Yes
r_post

Are rape guidelines posted on bulletin boards?
0 = No
1 = Yes
U

PERCEPTION OF SOCIAL ROLES
Of 100 general population inmates,
How many are all-out gay?

num_gay
U

How many are straight and not down low? num_srt
U

How many are on the down low?

num_dl
U

num_std

How many Men/studs are there?
U

How many Punks/ Femmes are there? num_fem
U

U

How many couples would there be? num_cpl
U

This document is a research report submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice. This report has not
been published by the Department. Opinions or points of view expressed are those of the author(s)
and do not necessarily reflect the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.

 

 

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