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Prison Culture  Prison cultures are unique because prisons are total institutions  The culture encompasses every aspect of an inmate’s life  Prisoners.

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Presentation on theme: "Prison Culture  Prison cultures are unique because prisons are total institutions  The culture encompasses every aspect of an inmate’s life  Prisoners."— Presentation transcript:


2 Prison Culture  Prison cultures are unique because prisons are total institutions  The culture encompasses every aspect of an inmate’s life  Prisoners cannot leave the institution or have meaningful interactions with outside communities  All prisoners are required to follow the schedule in exactly the same manner  every aspect of daily life is arranged by someone else (zero autonomy in a social sense)

3 Prison Hierarchy  Inmates develop their own language (argot/jargon)   Inmates create their own economy in the absence of money (which can buy goods for trade)  Food, contraband, sexual favors etc…  Inmates establish methods of determining power and their own social world  According to most academic reports the list looks something like this:  High minded robbery (heist/financial)  drug offenses  murder  petty theft  assault (domestic)  rape/incest offenses  pedophiles and snitches  law enforcement

4 Innovative Economy



7 How many “macks” is that?

8 Required Reading?


10 Free Write: Reflection  What do you think about the prison economy?  Do you think there is a solution to the underground market for things?  What are your thoughts on the “ Fresh Out Series: Prison Talk Channel on YouTube ” and the survival guides?  How does the existence of these videos and publications effect/impact this problem within prisons?

11 Do Now  Read Articles  Discuss with a partner for two minutes…  Discuss as class.


13 An Aging Population 1 The most significant change in the prison population involves age 2 While the majority of inmates are under the age of 34, the number of inmates over 55 has more than doubled since the mid-1990s 3 Several factors have contributed to this upsurge, include “get tough on crime” measures (three strikes, mandatory sentencing, the War on Drugs)


15 An Ailing Population 1 Older inmates are likely to suffer from medical concerns (very costly to taxpayer) 2 The death rate of inmates dying from poor health has increased by 82 percent between 1991 and 2004 3 More than 40% suffer from at least one illness 4 Approx. 50% suffer from mental illnesses (DSM V) In sum: corrections budgets are straining under the costs of health care





20 Compassionate Release  Process by which inmates in criminal justice systems may be eligible for immediate early release on grounds of “particularly extraordinary or compelling circumstances which could not reasonably have been foreseen by the court at the time of sentencing”




24 Arriving at the Gates  On arriving at prison, each convict attends an orientation session and receives a “Resident’s Handbook”  Provides information about meals and official count times, disciplinary regulations, visitation guidelines, etc.  Norms and values of prison society cannot be communicated by staff or learned through the handbook

25 Prisonization  Prisonization is the adaptation to the prison culture  Inmate gradually understands what constitutes acceptable behavior in the institution as defined by other inmates  Two primary areas 1. How prisoners change their behavior to adapt to life behind bars 2. How life behind bars has changed because of inmate behavior

26 Patterns of Inmate Behavior  Criminals adapt by “doing time”  “jailing” is establishing yourself in the power structure of prison culture  “gleaning” is working to improve yourself in preparation for a return to society  “disorganized” criminals exist on the fringes of prison society



29 Violence in Prison Culture  In the past, prison “elders” would themselves punish any peers showing proclivity toward assaulting fellow inmates  Today, violence is used to establish prisoner hierarchy, separating the powerful from the weak  Other reasons also exist for violent behavior  Provides a deterrent against being victimized  Enhances self-image  Gives sexual relief  Serves as a means of acquiring material goods through extortion or outright robbery

30 Deprivation Model to Blame?  The Deprivation Models states that prison subcultures develop as a response to a number of deprivations that prison offers. There are 5 deprivations of prisons: 1. Liberty 2. Good and Services 3. Heterosexual Relationships 4. Autonomy 5. Security  These stressful and oppressive conditions often lead to aggressive behavior of inmates  Violent behavior may simply be a means of relieving tension

31 Prison Riots  The concept of relative deprivation might explain rioting  Kratcoski argues that since prisoners enjoy such meager privileges further deprivation can spark disorder  Useem observed that the famous New Mexico prison riot erupted when additional security measures were imposed on inmates


33 Using Data to Make Inferences 1. Compare the two charts (NYDC and NMCD). Which institution faces more violence?  Be prepared to explain how you arrived at this conclusion. 2. Is it valuable to compare operating expenditures with violent measures in both places? What might this tell us about change over time? 3. What about inmate population/capacity as an indicator of violent measures? Inmate to staff ratio? 4. What problems––if any––can you find with comparing these data sets?  Is there more information about one vs. the other?  Are the measurements made in different units?


35 The Prison Rape Phenomenon  Rape occurs in prison and jails, but it is difficult to determine how widespread the problem is  Prison officials are often unwilling to provide realistic figures for fear of negative publicity  Most inmates are ashamed of being rape victims and refuse to report instances of sexual assault.  If not ashamed they are afraid of being harmed for snitching

36 Sex Act or Violent Act (or Economic Act?)  Inmates subject to rape (“punks”) are near the bottom of the prison power structure  Many prisons do not offer sufficient medical treatment for rape victims  Corrections officials rarely are held responsible for inmate-on-inmate violence  Should they be held accountable?

37 PREA (2003)  In 2001 Human Rights Watch released a paper, titled "No Escape: Male Rape in U.S. Prisons".  The release of that paper was the single event that contributed most to the passage of Prison Rape Elimination Act two years later.  The purpose of the act was to “provide for the analysis of the incidence and effects of prison rape in Federal, State, and local institutions and to provide information, resources, recommendations and funding to protect individuals from prison rape.”





42 Characteristics  Characteristics of female inmates  Male inmates outnumber female inmates by a ratio of 9 to 1  Most female inmates are  low income  undereducated  history of unemployment  disproportionately African American  Most have been incarcerated for a nonviolent drug or property crime

43 History of Abuse  The single factor that most distinguishes female prisoners from male prisoners is a history of physical or sexual abuse  55% of female jail inmates have been abused at some point in their lives  57% of women in state prisons and 40% of women in federal prisons report some form of past abuse  Levels of abuse are possibly related to significant amount of drug and/or alcohol addictions, as well to mental problems that addictions can cause or exacerbate

44 The “Motherhood Problem”  Drug and or alcohol use within a women’s prison often linked to depression experienced due to separation from children  7 out of 10 female inmates have at least one child (under age 18)  Female inmates are often housed at a great distance from their children  Separation can have serious consequences on the children  Children are likely to live with relatives or be sent to foster care

45 Violence in Women’s Prisons  Women’s prisons have comparatively low levels of physical aggression  Gang activity and violence does occur but at lesser rates  Most incidents involve conflicts over personal relationships  Research has shown that there are more episodes of petty violence in women’s prisons than in male institutions


47 The Female Family Phenomenon  The process of prisonization is evident  Adaptation relies on tightly knit cliques of prisoners mimicking the traditional family structure  The more experienced convicts adopt the “father” or the “mother” role, acting as a parent figure for younger, inexperienced “sons” or “daughters”  Inmates choose their roles depending on appearance, personality, and background  Prison female families restrict sexual contact between members, relying on one another for emotional support  Homosexuality often manifests itself through the formation of a monogamous couple 1 Women are not automatically labeled as homosexual 2 Lesbians are not hampered in their social-climbing efforts


49 Morning Edition


51 Sanctioning Prisoners 1. Prisoner Manuals list the types of behaviors that can result in disciplinary action 2. Institutional disciplinary committee decides the sanctions for specific types of misconduct 3. Sanctions include loss of privileges 4. Most severe sanction is solitary confinement  Currently being examined by the Senate Committee on Human Rights

52 Use of Force  For the most part, the judicial system has not greatly restricted disciplinary actions in prison  Generally, corrections officers are given a great deal of discretion to determine when force is warranted  Whitley v. Albers (1986)  SCOTUS held that the use of force by prison officials violates inmate’s Eighth Amendment if force is unnecessary  Excessive force can be considered “necessary” if legitimate security interests of the penal institution are at stake  Hudson v. McMillian (1992)  SCOTUS ruled that minor injuries suffered by a convict at the hands of a correctional officer violated his rights  The issue is not how much force was used, but how used

53 All Things Considered



56 Protecting Prisoner’s Rights  The 13 th Amendment indicates that the inmates do not have the same guaranteed rights as other Americans  Courts have followed the spirit of the 13 th through the “hands- off” doctrine  Unwritten judicial policy that favors noninterference by the courts in the administration of prison and jails  However, SCOTUS asserts that “there is no iron curtain between the Constitution and the prisons of this country”  Treatment is based on a balancing act between prisoners’ rights and the security needs of the correctional institution

57 AMENDMENT XIII SECTION 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. SECTION 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

58 Grounds for Legal Retribution “ Deliberate Indifference ”: knowing about horrid condition but doing nothing to remedy the situation. Estelle v. Gamble (1976)—Supreme Court established the “deliberate indifference” standard 1. Prison officials violate a convict’s Eighth Amendment rights if they deliberately failed to provide him/her with necessary medical care  Guarantees certain level of healthcare 2. Defined as a standard that must be met by inmates trying to prove that their Eighth Amendment rights were violated by a correctional facility

59 “Identifiable Human Needs” Wilson v. Seiter (1991)—SCOTUS created standard for determining 8 th Amendment violations that has drawn criticism from civil rights lawyers  Prisoner must show that the institution has denied him or her a basic human need  The Court failed to mention any other needs besides food, warmth, or exercise  Forced courts to interpret “identifiable human needs” for themselves


61 You Decide! Gender Identity as an Identifiable Human Need





66 Types of Release 1. Unconditional Release: when prisoner completes the terms of sentence and no longer requires incarceration or supervision 2. Mandatory Release: occurs when an inmate has served the maximum amount of time on the initial sentence, minus reductions for good-time credits 3. Pardons: a form of executive clemency which forgives a convict’s criminal punishment 4. Temporary Release: may be allowed for inmates who exhibit qualifying behavior (low risk to society) 1 A furlough is for a certain amount of time, usually between a day and a week 2 May be granted because of family emergency 3 Can be particularly helpful for an inmate who is nearing release and can use them to ease the readjustment period

67 Eligibility for Parole  Under indeterminate sentencing, parole is not a right but a privilege  Greenholtz v. Inmates of the Nebraska Penal and Correctional Complex (1979)—SCOTUS ruled that inmates do not have a constitutionally protected right to expect parole, (states set their own standards)  A convict does not “apply” for parole  Inmate’s case automatically comes up before the parole board a certain number of days before he or she is eligible for parole  Date of eligibility depends on statutory requirements, terms of the sentence, and the behavior of the inmate in prison  “Life without Parole” is common punishment for capital offenders or “3 strike” violators.

68 The Parole Board  Responsible for answering the question of when an offender should be released  The Parole Board has four basic roles 1. To decide which offenders should be placed on parole 2. To determine the conditions of parole and aid in the continuing supervision of the parolee 3. To discharge the offender when the conditions of parole have been met 4. If a violation occurs, to determine whether privileges should be revoked  Composition of parole board  Most are made up of five to seven members  In many jurisdictions, terms are limited to between four and six years  Requirements vary  Half the states have no prerequisites  Some states require a bachelors degree  Some states require some expertise in criminal justice field


70 Reentry into Society 1. This concept has come to mean many things to many people 2. It is defined as encompassing “all activities and programming conducted to prepare ex-convicts to return safely to the community and to live as law abiding citizens” 3. The largest obstacle is the difference between life behind bars and life on the outside (overcoming prisonization) 4. Prison environment insulates inmates 5. Housing can be difficult to secure 6. A convict’s criminal past limits his or her ability to find employment

71 Reentry into Society 7. Economic barriers can be complicated by the physical and mental conditions of the freed convict 8. The goal of reentry is to promote desistance, a general term used to describe the continued abstinence from offending and the reintroduction of offenders into society 9. Work release programs allow prisoners who are nearing the end of their sentences to find work out in the community 10. Inmates on work release must return to the facility at night or live in community residential facilities known as halfway houses





76 3 Reasons “Columbia Students are totally cool with cop killer professor.” 1. It is a private school 2. You are not forced to take her course offerings 3. She is qualified to teach the subject matter she is teaching




80 Barriers to Successful Reentry  Studies show benefits of reentry programs but sex offenders typically are denied access to these programs  The return of sex offenders to the community causes a great deal of anxiety  ALL 50 states and the federal government have their own version of Megan’s Law, a sex offender notification law requiring local law authorities to alert the public when a sex offender has been released  No two laws have the exact same provisions

81 Vigilant Tracking  In general, the laws require sex offenders to notify officials when they take up residence in a state  Two main models for how to track and warn 1. Under the active model, authorities directly notify members of the community 2. Under the passive model, information regarding sex offenders is made available to the public, but citizens must access it  Massachusetts has SORI (Sex Offender Registry Information) data available online.

82 Who is Allowed to See this Data? Level 1: The public is not allowed to see information about unclassified and Level 1 offenders. The information can, however, be released to the Department of Corrections, police departments, parole boards, the Department of Youth Services, the FBI, and other similar law enforcement agencies and departments Level 2 and Level 3: Adults 18 or older can request information about Level 2 and Level 3 offenders for their own protection, for the protection of a child, or for the protection of other adults for whom they have responsibility, care, or custody. The request can be made in person at the local police station, or by mail to the Sex Offender Registry Board. Level 3: Police departments are required to actively notify community organizations and members of the public who are likely to encounter Level 3 sex offenders. Information about Level 3 sex offenders is also available online using the Level 3 Sex Offender Search Form.  It is against the law to use Sex Offender Registry information to commit a crime against a sex offender, or for illegal discrimination or harassment of a sex offender.

83 Special Conditions of Release  Generally, sex offenders are supervised by parole officers and are subject to the same revocation threat as others  Paroled child molesters have additional conditions of release 1 No contact with children under 16 2 Continued psychiatric treatment 3 No change of residence without permission 4 Keeping distance from schools or parks where children congregate 5 Cannot possess toys that might lure children 6 Cannot obtain jobs or participate in activities that involve interaction with children

84 Registered Sex Offenders Worcester, MA


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