Gender Violence in Prison & Hyper-Masculinities in the ’Hood: Cycles of Destructive Masculinity

Journal of Law & Policy, Vol. 37, p. 89, 2011

59 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2012 Last revised: 1 Sep 2021

See all articles by SpearIt


University of Pittsburgh - School of Law

Date Written: 2011


This Article examines gender violence in male prisons and its impact on marginal communities — the slums, ’hoods, ghettos and barrios — where inmates return when released from prison. It is a qualitative study that analyzes documentary works on sex and gender violence in the correctional setting, including text, video, and film sources. The Article argues that social constructions of masculinity, including ideologies of patriarchy and heterosexuality, are the foundation for creating destructive masculinities in prison that seep into these communities by the return of disaffected inmates. The law contributes to inmate victimization, and in some systems, rules, policies, and procedures contribute structurally to the problem. Victims suffer long after they leave prison, including from post-traumatic disorders and health complications from sexually transmitted diseases. When such an individual returns, his problems become the community’s since he returns not merely as the chauvinistic sexist who entered, but someone far more menacing. Although his home community may already be defined by high rates of crime, violence, and poor public health, it is made more vulnerable by the release of inmates who return with ultra-masculine proclivities and high rates of disease infection. In the upcoming decades, marginal communities will absorb unprecedented numbers of released inmates at a social cost that is just at the beginning of calculation. What follows represents a contribution to the tally and to the continuing need for structural analysis of imprisonment’s collateral consequences. Examination of documentary works offers unique insight to this growing problem, and better, ideas for legal and cultural interventions.

Keywords: Prisons, Gender Violence, Sexual Violence, Masculinity, Rape, Mexican Mafia

Suggested Citation

SpearIt, Gender Violence in Prison & Hyper-Masculinities in the ’Hood: Cycles of Destructive Masculinity (2011). Journal of Law & Policy, Vol. 37, p. 89, 2011, Available at SSRN:

SpearIt (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - School of Law ( email )

3900 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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