Security Behind Bars
Situation, problem, and motivation: Overcrowded prisons, high numbers of prisoners with mental health issues, high numbers of foreign national prisoners, and increasing reported numbers of assaults upon prison guards and brawls between inmates suggest that violence in Austrian prisons is on the rise. While international studies imply that the dark figures of violence in prison are very high, no such studies exist in Austria. This calls for a systematic investigation of the situation in Austria in order to develop preventative measures tailored to the specific Austrian context. The prison system is in need of data on the prevalence of violence, as well as on situational and other context factors preventing violence or increasing its risk, in order to take evidence based preventative measures against violence in prison.
Aims of the project and innovative content: The aim of the project is to provide scientific knowledge for the development of evidence-based prevention measures to be implemented in Austrian prisons. It is innovative, as empirical evidence on the prevalence of prison violence in Austria is non-existent. Neither the official reports on prison violence nor the dark figures have yet been systematically investigated. Research results from other countries will be taken into account but cannot be transferred to the Austrian context because of its national specifics.
Intended outcomes and findings: Therefore, this project will, firstly, provide scientific data on the prevalence of violent victimization of Austrian prisoners, and give information on situational and other factors that promote or prevent violence among prisoners. Secondly, the project will, in conjunction with expert interviews and a literature review on good practices, answer the central research question: Which situational, organisational, or technical measures that can be implemented in Austria are effective in preventing prison violence? The specifics of different Austrian prisons with different levels of violence will be examined and compared in order to filter out promising practices.
The project is funded within the Austrian Security Research Programme KIRAS .
In Cooperation With
Nov 2018 to June 2020