Exportation Hypothesis

Bringing Prison Violence Home to the Community

Authored by: Don Hummer , Eileen M. Ahlin

Handbook on the Consequences of Sentencing and Punishment Decisions

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138608931
eBook ISBN: 9780429466380
Adobe ISBN:


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Corrections scholars have long contemplated the roots of prison violence, identifying importation, deprivation, and poor institutional management as the three main processes by which prison violence evolves (Levan, 2013; Steiner, Butler, & Ellison, 2014). What the literature lacks is a theoretical model of how a proclivity toward involvement in violence during the term of incarceration—whether imported, learned due to the effects of total institution deprivation, or resulting from prison management style—may serve as a collateral consequence of imprisonment if the culture of prison violence is exported home by citizens reentering communities after a term of imprisonment. Those incarcerated are exposed to, and many participate in, the culture of violence during their period of incarceration and such susceptibility toward violence diffuses beyond prison walls, negatively impacting formerly incarcerated persons’ reentry experiences, which can be detrimental to the safety of the community. If returning citizens bring the culture of prison violence to the streets, it is likely to inhibit the reentry process by escalating their risk of recidivating. This personal collateral consequence of incarceration may also result in negative sequelae in the community through an increase in exposure to violence. With a growing number of citizens leaving correctional institutions and returning to communities following unprecedented policy decisions aimed at decreasing prison populations, the potential for the exportation of prison violence is rising, suggesting a renewed focus on the culture of prison violence is needed.

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