Myths and realities of prison violence: A review of the evidence

James M. Byrne, Don Hummer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


In order to distinguish prison myth from reality, the authors examine both official and unofficial estimates of the violence and disorder in prison, as well the dual issues of whether drug abuse and gang activity in prison can be directly linked to the level of violence and disorder in correctional institutions. Based on this review, current responses to prison violence and disorder are examined; the authors argue that the key to reducing the current level of prison violence and disorder is to determine the appropriate tipping point between formal and informal social control mechanisms. The authors conclude by highlighting three distinct strategies for reducing violent incidents in prisons: (1) demand transparency, (2) require evidence-based practice, and (3) implement innovative measures of prison performance and quality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)77-90
Number of pages14
JournalVictims and Offenders
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Health(social science)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Law


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