Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Criminal Justice

First Committee Member

Melissa Rorie

Second Committee Member

Emily Salisbury

Third Committee Member

Terance Miethe

Fourth Committee Member

Robert Futrell

Number of Pages



Institutional misconduct has been widely researched in the criminological literature for more than 50 years, leading to an extensive knowledge about how and why different prisoners misbehave while incarcerated. Nevertheless, one correctional population has been mostly left out of these research pursuits – death row prisoners (DRPs). Although DRPs form a small fraction of the overall number of incarcerated individuals in the US, they tend to spend more than 20 years in maximum security facilities and require a considerable amount of resources. As such, it is imperative for the safety of the facility, the staff, and the prisoners themselves to investigate which factors impact one’s likelihood of engaging in misconduct. The limited amount of available research suggests that those on death row are rarely violent while in prison, but oftentimes engage in non-violent misconduct. The reasons why these previously violent individuals do not frequently act aggressively – but continue breaking rules while in prison – remain mostly unknown. Using the largest sample of American DRPs to date, this study enhances the understanding of death row misconduct. Drawing upon scholarship regarding misconduct of different correctional populations, I use a conjunctive analysis of case configurations (CACC) with a sample of 238 current DRPs to establish which variables are associated with the presence and absence of violent and non-violent infractions. The results of the CACC contribute to theoretical knowledge and emphasize variables that should be further explored in future studies. In order to also facilitate the practical applicability of this study, I attempt to create actuarial scales predicting violent and non-violent misconduct on death row prisoners in Arizona (n=105) and pursue validation of the scale predicting non-violent misconduct on the North Carolina sample (n=133). To address previous findings regarding race and age being predictive of death row misconduct, additional scales are constructed to inquire whether predictors vary across the subgroups. My findings suggest that while few importation model factors are predictive of misconduct and the scale predicting non-violent misconduct is not valid, the prisoner’s location is significantly associated with their non-violent and violent institutional infraction record. Resulting is the discussion on what role does the location of death row play in prisoners’ misbehavior, as well as consideration of limitations of this study and its practical implications.


Corrections; Death penalty; Death row; Institutional misconduct; Prisoners; Risk assessment


Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice

File Format


File Size

2400 KB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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