38 Crim. Just. & Behavior 5 (2011)

handle is hein.journals/crmjusbhv38 and id is 1 raw text is: 







CORRELATES AND ACTUARIAL MODELS OF

ASSAULTIVE PRISON MISCONDUCT AMONG

VIOLENCE-PREDICTED CAPITAL OFFENDERS

MARK D. CUNNINGHAM
Dallas, Texas
JON  R. SORENSEN
Prairie View A &M University
MARK P.   VIGEN
Shreveport, Louisiana
S. 0. WOODS
Huntsville, Texas


Correlates of prison violence and the classification accuracy of an actuarial model were examined from retrospective review
of the disciplinary records of former death row inmates in Texas (N= 111) who had been predicted to commit future violence
at trial and subsequently obtained relief from their death sentences between 1989 and 2008. Correlates of potentially violent
infractions included age (inversely), intellectual capability (inversely), prior violent crime arrest, and gun-only weapon used
in murder (inversely). An actuarial scale constructed from the sample was modestly (area under the curve [AUC] = 0.690)
associated with combined violence on death row and in the broader prison population, as were scales constructed previously
from other samples (AUC = 0.609 to 0.656). Although AUCs for serious assaults in three models were relatively high
(AUC = 0.799 to 0.83 1), low base rates result in these actuarial scales having high false positive rates (e.g., 76%) in identify-
ing offenders who will commit serious prison assaults.

Keywords: prison violence; capital sentencing; actuarial model; risk assessment; death row; inmate assault




T here is much interest in identifying inmates who are at increased risk of assaultive
    misconduct   in prison. The broadest  application of this effort is made by prison classi-
fication procedures that attempt to allocate security resources so that the most violent-prone
inmates  are subject to greater preemptive incapacitation. A far less frequent, but manifestly
graver, attempt to identify inmates who are likely to commit serious violence in prison is made
by capital sentencing juries in some jurisdictions, as they consider this as a factor in impos-
ing the death penalty  (for a discussion, see Cunningham,   2006; Cunningham, Sorensen, &
Reidy,  2009; Shapiro, 2009).  Criminal justice and forensic psychology   researchers have an
interest in the correlates and actuarial models of prison violence, as these inform theoretical
constructs, correctional recommendations, and professional risk assessment practices.
   Inmate  classification applications and  capital jury violence-prediction  determinations
share a focus  on individual-level factors that may  be associated with  prison violence, that



AUTHORS' NOTE: The authors derive  income from evaluations and testimony at capital sentencing specify-
ing varying levels of improbability offuture prison violence and/or describing prison classification and secu-
rity. Partial funding for data collection and analysis was provided by a Texas district court at the request of
defense counsel. The authors acknowledge and thank the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for its assis-
tance. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to MarkD. Cunningham, PhD, ABPP 6860
North Dallas Parkway, Suite 200, Plano, TX 75024; e-mail: mdc@markdcunningham.com.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR, Vol. 38 No. 1, January 2011 5-25
DOI: 10.1177/0093854810384830
 2011 International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology


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