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Abstract

Most research on inmate prison violence examines inmate-on-inmate assaultive behavior, whereas considerably less attention has been paid to inmate-on-staff assault and the factors underlying this relationship. The present study uses the Survey of Inmates in State and Federal Correctional Facilities 2004, which includes 18,185 respondents, to examine whether inmates who suffer from symptoms of poor mental health or clinical mental disorders are more likely to physically and verbally assault correctional staff in prison and why. Logistic regression was used to examine inmates’ mental health status in predicting the likelihood of physical and verbal assault. It was found that those displaying symptoms of mental health issues related to anger and psychosis were more likely to physically assault correctional staff; inmates with symptoms of anger, psychosis, and anxiety were more likely to verbally assault staff. Inmates with clinical disorders related to schizophrenia and mood disorders were more likely to physically assault correctional staff; those with a diagnosis of personality disorder were more likely to verbally assault staff. It was also found that, when comparing types of mental health problems, inmates exhibiting certain mental health disorders/symptoms were at a greater risk of victimizing staff. Policy implications and directions for future research are discussed.


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