An Exploratory Factor Analysis of a Prison Rape Elimination Act Survey in a Women's Prison

AuthorMargaret E. Shippen,Nicholas C. Derzis,Angela Hall,Sharon Weaver
Published date01 September 2022
Date01 September 2022
Subject MatterArticles
An Exploratory Factor
Analysis of a Prison Rape
Elimination Act Survey
in a Womens Prison
Margaret E. Shippen
Nicholas C. Derzis
, Angela Hall
and Sharon Weaver
Even with the dramatic increase in the number of female inmates in state and
federal correctional institutions in recent decades, the criminal justice sys-
tem continues to develop policies based on empirical research from male
inmate programming. A shift in focus toward gender-responsive program-
ming is challenging corrections to address womens needs. This studys
data are a result of a settlement agreement between the United States
Department of Justice (USDOJ) and a state Department of Corrections
(DOC) to explore female inmatesperceptions of sexual and physical safety
in the states largest correctional faculty. The Prison Rape Elimination Act
Survey Instrument (PSI) was designed with 15 categories and 76 questions,
including demographic data, sexual and physical safety factors, and items
related to programs. Results of the exploratory factor analysis (EFA) indicate
that the instrument has four factors detecting 41% of the variance explained.
Recommendations are to conduct a conf‌irmatory factor analysis (CFA) to
assure that the instrument is psychometrically sound and the factors are
Auburn University, Auburn, Al, USA
Alabama State University, Montgomery, Al, USA
Troy University, Troy, Al, USA
Corresponding Author:
Margaret E. Shippen, Department of Special Education, Rehabilitation, and Counseling, Auburn
University 2084 Haley Center, Auburn, Al, 36849, USA.
The Prison Journal
2022, Vol. 102(4) 474492
© 2022 SAGE Publications
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/00328855221109818
female inmates, Prison Rape Elimination Act, perceptions of safety, factor analysis
Although many more men are in prison than women, the rate of growth for female
imprisonment has been almost f‌ive times higher than that of men since 1980 (The
Sentencing Project, 2022). According to the Sentencing Project, women are more
likely than men to be incarcerated for a drug or property offense. The typical
female offender is poor, uneducated, African-American, likely on welfare, and
the sole caretaker of minor children (Bloom et al., 2003; King & Foley, 2014).
Womens imprisonment presents a major social problem, as it places pressure
on social services and traumatizes the children left behind. Currently, The
Prison Policy Institute f‌inds mothers constitute 58% of state prison and 80% of
jail populations (Sawyer & Bertram, 2022).
While the number of women in correctional settings grew signif‌icantly
prior to the pandemic, state and federal correctional agencies continued to
ignore the context of these womens lived experiences and the reality of
their needs. Moreover, the need to address physical and sexual safety of incar-
cerated women is federally mandated by the Prison Rape Elimination Act
Prison Rape Elimination Act
In 2003, the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) was passed unanimously
in Congress. PREA represents a broad commitment to zero tolerance for
sexual assault and rape in any conf‌inement facility of a federal, state or
local government whether operated by such a government or by a private
organization to include local jails, police lockups and juvenile facilities
(Halley, 2005, p. 30). The Act def‌ines prison rapebroadly. It does not dif-
ferentiate between inmate-on-inmate and staff-on-inmate sexual assault; it
confronts both problems. Additionally, it does not discriminate across
gender, but addresses all sexual assaults, regardless of the gender of the per-
petrator or victim. Section 10 of PREA def‌ines rape as: "the carnal knowl-
edge, oral sodomy, sexual assault with an object or sexual fondling of a
person, forcibly or against that persons will; or not forcibly or against the
persons will, where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of
his or her youth or his or her temporary or permanent mental or physical inca-
pacity; or the carnal knowledge, oral sodomy, sexual assault with an object, or
sexual fondling of a person achieved through the exploitation of the fear or
Shippen et al. 475

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