Gender and Violence Risk Assessment in Prisons
Our study examines the association between Historical, Clinical, Risk Management-20: Version 2; Psychopathy Checklist–Revised; and Violence Risk Assessment Guide scores and violence perpetrated during incarceration by male and female inmates. Using a sample of 288 men and 183 women selected from prisons in 2 states, we used receiver operating characteristics analyses to assess the potential of these 3 measures to predict threatened, physical, or sexual prison violence measured in 2 ways: inmate self-report and formal institutional infractions. We found all 3 instruments to demonstrate moderate to good levels of predictive accuracy for both the male and female inmates, a finding that suggests that actuarial, structured professional judgment and personality measures perform in a broadly comparable manner in assessing institutional violence for both men and women. Our findings did vary on the basis of the way violence was measured: Women self-reported significantly higher levels of prison violence than was suggested by their institutional infractions, and the associative power of the instruments diminished substantially, particularly among the men, when institutional infractions alone were used in the analyses. These findings suggest that the 3 risk measures are likely to be gender neutral in their association with prison violence, albeit with gender-related differences in the frequency of violent behavior and the relevance of particular subscales.