The experts expect their findings to help improve the culture and safety in the seven participating state prison systems, which hold a total of nearly 300,000 prisoners. The researchers hope to identify why some prisoners and staff become victims of violence and offer possible preventative interventions, which could eventually be implemented nationally.
Houston, Texas-based philanthropy Arnold Ventures awarded a $2.7 million grant to fund the three-year, multi-strategy investigation called “The Sources and Consequences of Prison Violence.” It will focus on 23 prisons in the various states.
University of California professor of criminology, law and society Nancy Rodriguez is the study’s leader. Melinda Tasca, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Texas at El Paso, is one of the principal investigators. Tasca was recently recruited from Sam Houston State University, which has one of the top criminal justice programs in the U.S.
“The complexity, scale and scope of this project requires research team members with specialized expertise,” said Rodriguez. “Dr. Tasca has a track record of successfully collaborating with corrections officials and navigating data collection under some of the most difficult situations. Her expertise on the conditions of confinement and work on incarcerated persons and correctional staff make her an ideal team member.”
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