Assaults, Use of Force and Control

  • Andrew Goldsmith
  • Mark Halsey
  • Andrew Groves
Part of the Crime Prevention and Security Management book series (CPSM)


Violence, it has been suggested, is “omnipresent in prison” (Kupers 1996: 189). The ability of a correctional facility “to protect prisoners and staff from physical harm is a fundamental measure of the success or failure of that institution,” Gibbons and Katzenbach (2006: 21) argue. Physical harm can occur within prisons at the hands of other prisoners or COs. Given the book’s focus on correctional integrity, this chapter is concerned primarily with the latter phenomenon. We shall argue that its prevalence and importance reflects the often tenuous nature of staff control over the establishments in which they work, as well as the strongly masculinist nature of many correctional settings. As the histories of penal establishments show, too often “cultures can develop…where staff [become] careless and occasionally brutal with the power they hold” (Liebling et al. 2011: 115). Violence, whether by officers or by clients, has been said to be a part of the “prison economy” (Copes et al. 2011). This latter description implies that violence rarely occurs in a vacuum and, more commonly, it is an expression or outcome of other factors affecting correctional settings. Consistent with our approach in this book, those factors may be situational, structural or environmental in nature. Yet despite there being considerable evidence that fear of being physically victimised in prison shapes many prisoners’ as well as officers’ perceptions of their environment (Toch 1992), staff-driven violence against prisoners has received little attention to date in comparison with the much larger prisoner-on-prisoner violence literature (see Wooldredge 1991, 1998; Copes et al. 2011; Hochstetler and DeLisi 2005; Liebling and Arnold 2012).


Physical Restraint Correctional Facility Correctional Setting Physical Harm Female Prisoner 
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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Goldsmith
    • 1
  • Mark Halsey
    • 1
  • Andrew Groves
    • 2
  1. 1.Flinders UniversityAdelaideAustralia
  2. 2.Deakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia

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