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Violence in New Zealand women's prisons

Female violence in institutional settings is a growing issue as female incarceration numbers have been persistently increasing over the past three decades in New Zealand. Women’s prison violence and misconduct behaviours currently possess minimal exploration worldwide due to violent women being small in numbers until recent years, and female prisoners have posed significantly fewer problems towards correctional facilities compared to male prisoners. With evidence of New Zealand’s women prison muster inflating and minimal research on women’s aggressive behaviour, there is an increased importance for the current study. This explorative study evaluated the prevalence of violent behaviour and misconduct in New Zealand’s three women’s prisons using the Department of Correction’s administrative data to examine the relationships between predictor variables and violent misconduct. Participants included 2,038 prisoners who had been cited for 11,368 rule violations between the years 2012 and 2017, with incidents including physical violence, verbal violence, property violence, and non-violent incidents. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize demographic characteristics and distribution of the sample and data. Analysis of covariance was employed to investigate the effects of violation frequencies and gang membership on the prisoners’ risk of reconviction multiplied by risk of imprisonment (RoC*RoI) scores while controlling for the effects of age as a covariate. Non-parametric tests were used where appropriate to identify the differences between groups. The results illustrated that there were significant correlations between violation frequencies and RoC*RoI scores and that prisoners with a higher risk of reoffending had higher counts of violations. There was a significant effect of gang membership and RoC*RoI scores on violation frequencies, as gang-affiliated prisoners were more likely to have high RoC*RoI scores as well as higher rates of violations. A significant correlation between age groups and violation frequencies was identified, demonstrating that younger prisoners were more prone to engaging in violence and misconduct compared to older prisoners. Violation frequencies differed between prisons, as one prison reported lower numbers of violations in comparison to the remaining two prisons. This study established three key predictors of misconduct, which is a valuable contribution to the correctional literature.
Type of thesis
Lancaster, F. E. (2020). Violence in New Zealand women’s prisons (Thesis, Master of Social Sciences (MSocSc)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/13593
The University of Waikato
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