Factors Associated with Victimization Experiences Among Juveniles Detained in a Chinese Correctional Facility: A Longitudinal Study

Date01 November 2021
Published date01 November 2021
Subject MatterArticles
CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND BEHAVIOR, 2021, Vol. 48, No. 11, November 2021, 1596 –1615.
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/00938548211013564
Article reuse guidelines: sagepub.com/journals-permissions
© 2021 International Association for Correctional and Forensic Psychology
A Longitudinal Study
Ball State University
Sam Houston State University
Jinan University
Prison victimization constitutes a serious problem for organizations and individuals. It disrupts order in an institutional envi-
ronment, and the experience of victimization can have a long-lasting psychological effect on incarcerated population, par-
ticularly juveniles. Relevant research suggests that the deprivation model and the importation model can help explain the
occurrence of prison victimization. Using longitudinal data collected from a youth custodial facility in China, the current
study examines factors that are believed to be predictors of prison victimization. Negative binomial regression, a commonly
used tool for the analysis of prison victimization research using count data, is employed in the current study. The findings
suggest that prior victimization experiences, reported record of violent delinquency, prison visitation, and demographics have
significant impacts on in-prison victimization. The public policy implications of the findings are discussed at the end of the
Keywords: preprison victimization; in-prison victimization; importation and deprivation; juvenile justice; longitudinal
Prison has been well documented as an isolated and hazardous place from its inception in
the United States. Recorded incidents, such as assaults, rule violation, and suicide, are
common problems associated with prison management (Lahm, 2009; Ricciardelli, 2014;
Wooldredge, 1998). Relevant studies have consistently found that adverse incidents have
their roots in institutional victimization and associated revenge (Hochstetler et al., 2004;
AUTHORS’ NOTE: The authors would like to thank the editors and anonymous reviewers for their thoughtful
comments. This paper has no funding information. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed
to Hongwei Zhang, Juvenile & Family Law Research Center, School of Humanities, Jinan University, 206
Qingshan Road, Guangzhou 519070, Guangdong, China; e-mail: Hongwei_zhang888@hotmail.com.
1013564CJBXXX10.1177/00938548211013564Criminal Justice and BehaviorWang et al. /
Kerley et al., 2009; Toman, 2019). Unfortunately, research is limited regarding institutional
victimization in comparison with other topics, such as incarcerated person’s misconduct
and offending (Lahm, 2009; Perez et al., 2010).
The dearth in literature also extends to international studies. More specifically, a cur-
sory review of the prior literature in both English and Chinese reveals that research is
scant regarding prison victimization under the Chinese setting. This research trend nar-
rows again with respect to juveniles in confinement (Kuo et al., 2014). The absent litera-
ture is an issue as detained youth can be particularly vulnerable to in-prison victimization
because they are both physically and psychologically underdeveloped (Ahlin, 2018;
DeLisi et al., 2010). A meta-analysis of 25 previous studies, for example, indicated that
detained juveniles were more likely to have mental disorders and associated behavioral
problems than their at-risk counterparts in the general population (Fazel et al., 2008). In
addition, relevant research strongly suggests that victimization can be a catalyst for both
maladjustment upon release and for recidivism (X. Chen, 2016; Rima et al., 2019; Yoder
et al., 2019).
Therefore, the experiences encountered by incarcerated adults and detained juveniles can
have a lasting impact on the individual. Due to the complexities associated prison-related
interactions, two conventional perspectives are commonly employed to explain incarcer-
ated population behaviors in prison environments—namely, importation and deprivation.
Empirical studies have consistently reported evidence that both prior experiences (i.e.,
importation) and facility-based practices (i.e., deprivation) exert significant influence on
the likelihood of victimization in prison (Steiner et al., 2017). Most of the reported studies,
however, center on adults in custody instead of detained juveniles. The focus of the study
here is upon detained juveniles in China, a country with the largest juvenile population in
the world (H. Zhang et al., 2014). Specifically, we examine the factors hypothesized to be
associated with in-prison victimization among juveniles held in a correctional institution.
Longitudinal data used in this study were collected from the lone juvenile custodial facility
located in an autonomous region of the country, which contains an ethnically diverse popu-
lation of 48.38 million citizens. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first empirical
study to deploy a relatively comprehensive analytical model on detained juvenile victimiza-
tion within China. This study aims to fill the research gap on detained Chinese juveniles and
to provide a better understanding of victimization experiences in an institutional setting, for
the following reasons.
Available literature reveals that the integration of the deprivation and importation models
has come to characterize prison behavior research (Dhami et al., 2007; Lahm, 2009;
Ricciardelli, 2014; Sparks et al., 1996; Sykes, 1958; Thomas, 1977; Toch, 1977). Scholars
have argued convincingly that incarcerated population’s institutional behaviors are influ-
enced by a combination of the physical/relational environment encountered in prison and
the past/present biographical experiences (Sparks et al., 1996; Thomas, 1977). Importation
approach and deprivation approach are commonly used to explain an incarcerated popula-
tion’s behaviors in prison. There is no exception for detained juveniles when the research
focus is their personal adjustment (Gover et al., 2000; Tasca et al., 2010). Similarly, this
study utilizes the two approaches to offer a broader conceptualization of in-prison victim-
ization among detained juveniles. It is a useful way to put predictors derived from different
theories into the two broadly conceptualized perspectives.

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