Attributions of Blame toward Incarcerated Rapists among Correctional Workers: Implications for Staffing

Article excerpt

This research note reports the results of a study intended to examine the patterns of attributions of blame for rape among different groups of correctional workers involved with a Canadian federal prison, and to explore the beliefs held by these groups with regard to the treatment and rehabilitation of rapists. A secondary goal was to examine the relationship between selected demographic variables in the personal backgrounds of correctional workers (i.e., age, gender, education) and their patterns of attributions.

It is important to investigate the attitudes and beliefs of these groups of correctional workers because they are in frequent contact with incarcerated rapists. These workers affect the way rapists are treated, and have a significant impact on their adjustment while in prison. Some of these professionals exert considerable influence on aspects of the offender's life during his incarceration (such as passes, early releases, and transfers to lower security institutions), so their attitudes and beliefs may enhance or hinder his treatment and progress toward release. It is important to know if there is a discrepancy between the professionals' attitudes toward rapists. It is also important to investigate the effect of personal characteristics of correctional workers because such results may have practical applications for the selection of staff who may be involved in the treatment of rapists.

Based on the previous literature, two hypotheses were proposed: it is expected that a) correctional workers will differ significantly in the internal-external attribution of blame towards rapists as a function of their roles and services they provide to incarcerated rapists; b) correctional workers will differ in their attributions of blame as a function of their personal characteristics.

Eighty-eight subjects comprising three correctional groups (custodial staff, psychologists and case management officers of a prison; and social workers of a community correctional social agency) completed an attribution of blame and belief measure with five subscales: Offender blame, Victim blame, Alcohol and drug blame, Societal value blame, and Belief. …