Characteristics Of Male Inmate Victims

This section presents a discussion of predictive characteristics of male inmates that have been tied to sexual victimization behind bars. The current literature discusses demographic characteristics including age, race, education, martial status, education, sexual orientation, prior incarceration and previous sexual victimization in subsections. The ability to identify variables that increase the likelihood an individual will be sexually assaulted is critical to preventing future sexual assaults from occurring. However, additional information is needed to understand the occurrence of sexual assaults against male prisoners with female prison guards being the perpetrators. Once the association between these personal attributes and victimization are understood, a plan to educate and monitor the occurrences of sexual assault in correctional settings can then be completed and implemented.


The age of the female correctional guard and the male prisoner are two variables that need to be explored in order to get a better understanding of what characteristics female prison guards that engage in sexual assaults amongst male prisoners exhibit. There is a significant statistical relationship between inmate age and situational control ratios (the amount of control one can exercise divided by the amount of control one is subject). Inmates aged 25-30 and over 40 years old perceived a greater loss of control when compared to other age groups. However, few other groups have explored how age affects male sexual assault victims in prison. Furthermore, few studies have fully explored whether or not female prison guards who sexually assault male prisoners are more likely to be within a certain age group.


Race is another variable that may influence sexual assaults in incarceration facilities. Control balance theorists argue that control ratios (the amount of control one can exercise divided by the amount of control one is subject) are somewhat inherent to roles and statuses, in particular age, race and gender. Inmate gender and race interact with situational control imbalances among correctional officers to influence criminal and deviant behaviors. Once these behaviors are established, sexual assaults are relatively easy to commit and get away with in this type of setting. Limited information is actually available on the influence race actually has by itself, but it can be correlated with other characteristics to define the victim population.

Sexual Orientation

Homosexual males are at a high risk of victimization while incarcerated. In exploring why homosexuals are more likely to be sexually assaulted in correction facilities, deviance results from the convergence of four variables: predisposition, motivation, opportunity, and constraint. Straight and gay males are susceptible to control deficits in the prison setting. The environment cultivates the prospect of victimization by providing opportunities for fellow inmates and officers to act out toward them in a sexual way.

Predisposition is defined as a specific attitude one lives by, such as in the case of sexual offenders. It is suggested that certain offenders are predisposed to committing such acts. For example, a homosexual sex offender incarcerated for pedophilia may be more likely to sexually assault another homosexual male, due to the individual’s sexual preference. From this standpoint it could be argued that the individual’s predisposing characteristics and preferences directly affect their behaviors. From this standpoint it could further be argued that these preferences may further influence whom an inmate chooses to be his or her victim.

Another attribute that influences an individual’s behavior is motivation. Motivation refers to the reason or primary drive that causes a person to commit specific acts. In the case of sexual assault there has to be a motivation for the offender to commit the act itself. However, it is also important for the offender to have an opportunity to commit a sexually deviant act. Opportunity suggests when, where and how such an act can be committed. In this case, a correctional officer can make arrangements to get an inmate into a private area to commit such an act without being caught. Yet, the constraints placed on the individual may further influence whether or not he or she can commit a sexual assault. Constraint refers to the limitation or restriction of opportunities for the act to take place.

Prior Incarceration

After reviewing the literature available for this characteristic, there does not seem to be a direct independent link between prior incarceration and the victimization rate of inmates by correctional officers. While it is suggested that victims might be targeted for repeated assaults because of their prior incarceration, there is nothing that directly correlates this in any literature. However, with that said, there is an unspoken understanding that prior incarceration does play a role in the victimization of inmates by correctional staff. This characteristic actively fits in with the others mentioned in this literature review and must be factored in when conducting the current study.

Previous Sexual Victimization

This characteristic also mixes in with the others on identifying potential victims in the correctional setting. Previous victimization influences the level of control an individual holds. A significant loss of control predisposes the individual to continued victimization. In essence, the control theory is actively at work in this scenario.


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