A Summary Of Prison Life August 01, 2010 When most of us think of prison life, we think of nothing but sitting in a cell, staring at blank walls, wishing that one could get out of the “joint”. But, what we don’t realize is everything that goes on behind the scenes. I believe society is negligent to realize that some of the inmates may fear for their lives or may be ready for a fight at anytime. There are many that may fear being sexually assaulted or even raped. When it comes to privileges, do we really know what types of privileges one has in prison?
In 2007, there were approximately, 7. 3 million inmates in the United States according to CNN. com (CNN, 2007). That is 7. 3 million who live in a prison cell day in and day out. There are 5 different types of housing within the United States Prison System. General Population within the prison is the first and most common place for an inmate to be. According to the text, this status is the “least restricted and allows the most freedom of movement” (Foster, 2006).
The next four types of housing in the United States Prison system are considered to be “special management” housing. Administrative segregation is when an inmate is removed from general population as ‘a threat to security’… other inmates and staff (Foster, 2006). Disciplinary detention is a place for inmates who choose to misbehave in the general population by breaking the prison rules. The next type of housing unit is Protective Custody housing, which is when an inmate requests separation from the general population because he/she fears for his/her own safety.
The last type of housing is Mental Health Housing, which is when one is removed from the population because they have serious mental disorders, which causes a major conflict with those in the general population. (Foster, 2006, p. 254). Typically, a prison cell is a place that has a single door and the walls are made from either brick or plastic. The door typically slides and has a latch, which allows officers to observe the prisoners inside the cell.
The standard size of jail cells is 6 feet by 8 feet according to The Federal Bureau of Prisons (Prisons). To prevent prisoners from escaping, every cell is equipped with heavy-duty door locks, which can only be opened from the outside. Stainless steel toilets are anchored on the floors or on the walls. Within the prison cell, you will typically find bunk-beds with mattresses a toilet and sink. It seems like such a confined space for people who knew no boundaries before.
It’s amazing how quickly one forgets and took for granted that small bathroom that one complains about daily and all the luxuries that one forgot they had, prior to committing a crime. Though it may seem like a lonely place, prisoners are “far from isolated unless they choose to be” (Foster, 2006, p. 249). Puzzle and word searches are something that you will often find among prisoners (Things To Do In Prison , 2003). Some like to write letters and some like to draw, but whatever it is, they do it all alone.
This is unless they are in the “yard”. The yard is an area in which the inmates can play sports, talk and work out. If the yard is not where a prisoner chooses to be, he/she may go to the “dayroom”. The dayroom is a place where a television may be located, a hobby shop or a place to play cards. (Foster, 2006, p. 252). Though every day life for prisoners significantly differs throughout the United States, when it comes to everyday activities, a good example comes from the schedule in which a prisoner encounters every day in North Carolina. HOUR |MINIMUM |MEDIUM |CLOSE | |Morning | |5:00 |Sleep |wake up |sleep | |6:00 |wake up |breakfast |wake up | |7:00 |breakfast/travel to work |travel to work site/work |breakfast/go to work in | | |site | |prison | |8:00-10:00 |Work | |11:00 |30 minutes for lunch |30 minutes for lunch |work | Afternoon | |12:00 |Work |work |30 minutes for lunch | |1:00-2:00 |Work | |3:00 |work/travel to prison |travel to prison/off duty |work day ends/time on prison| | | | |yard | |4:00 |off duty/time on prison yard|time on prison yard |return to cell | |5:00 |30 minutes for supper | |Evening | |6:00-7:00 |time for religious and specialized programming such as religious services, narcotics | | |anonymous, anger management | |8:00 |return to dorm |return to dorm |return to cellblock | |9:00-10:00 |remain in housing area | |11:00 |lights out; go to sleep | I couldn’t imagine entering prison for the first time. Could you imagine the fear that would come over one’s body? Unfortunately, what most people entering the system forget is that “prisons are supposed to be painful, and deprivation of sex is one of the expected pains” (Foster, 2006, p. 265). Unfortunantly, in prison life, “sex is a wedge in the door to a world of greater priviledges” (Foster, 2006,p. 265).
This identifies sex in prison on all levels. Prison sex to the outsiders appears that it would typically between inmates, but in reality it is also between inmate and employee. Since prisons are seperated by gender, it is only assumed that the sex that takes place in prison, is homosexual. Based off what we have heard, we often hear that it is typically non-consensual, this is called, “gang rape”. Gang rape, according to the text, is which ‘sexual predators beat a younger inmate into submission and force him into anal sex’ (Foster, 2006, p. 265). The text also states that a conservative estimate of 300,000 males are sexually assaulted behind bars annually (Foster, 2006,p 266).
Inmates are not the only ones having sex in prison. Inmates and correctional employees often have consenual sex. Though it seems like a no-brainer, but only forty-six states have a law against guards who corss the line with inmates (Foster, 2006, p. 265). This seems quite obsurd, though I am sure that they get walked-out or punished within the system, they are not prosecuted. If an inmate gets caught having any type of sex, they are usually immediately transferred out of the facility. Fearing for your life when it comes to being sexually assaulted is much different than fearing that someone is going to come after you to hurt you or even kill you.
The vast amount of diversity in prison causes issues far beyond what an outsider could imagine. In todays society, “violence is less common today than a generation ago” (Foster, 2006, p. 260). But, prison gangs are thriving across the country. These gangs are considered to be organized, sneaky and deadly. The most powerful and influential: The Mexican Mafia, the Lu Nuestra Familia, the Texas Syndicate, the Aryan Brotherhood, and the Black Guerilla Family (Foster, 2006, p. 269). All of these gangs maintain the membership requirement of murder or the “spilling of another’s blood” (Prisons). In addition, each of these organizations relies heavily on illegal revenues from the drug trade.
Some of the gangs are nothing but a group of inmates in one prison, while other gangs could be large enough to connect with other branches throughout the U. S. Prison. Gangs in prison are usually start based on the race of the prisoner. Each gang thinks they are the dominate gang in jail and will fight to stay that way. Just like street gangs, prison gangs are usually led by a dominate figure. This person has the first and last word, and members of the gang follow their orders. They often tell the group they are there to protect them, but in reality, are only there to benefit themselves. Unfortunately, many issues take place because of conflict of opinions that turn into a war. Though many people indicate that gangs are a major issue in prisons, the U. S. hey have several strategies to try to minimize gang violence. There are 6 different strategies to minimizing gangs which include segregation, isolating gang leaders, jacketing, gang database control, deprogramming and concentrating gang members in high security prisons. Segregation is done by placing members in administrative segregation, which is costly and perceived by many as ineffective”(Foster, 2006, p. 270). Isolating gang leaders which consist of transporting these predominnate gang leaders to other prisons, sometimes across stateline. Jacketing is another strategy, which consist of labeling a gang member, often times within their file. This is where snitches come into effect.
Gang databases involve “compiling computerized records systems on gang members that can be shared by different prison systems and law enforcement agencies” (Foster, 2006, p. 270). Deprogramming is abandon the gang and return to general population. Concentrating gang members in high-security prison, is an approach that “tries to leave most of the state’s prisons gang free by concentrating gang members in a few institutions” (Foster, 2006, p 270. ) These tactics have been essential in reducing the amount of assaults and homicides by gangs. Though its inevitable that our prison system is full of gangs, its essential that we do the best we can to minimize the amount of crime that takes place in the prison.
Though prison life seems like the last place that any of us would want to be, its certain that these conditions are not something that you would want to deal with. Its inevitable that life on the outside is much better for most of us, than it is on the inside. Our lives are filled with chaos and drama but not nearly as much drama as there is inside the United States Prison. I find it quite interesting the amount of detail that is consumed by the public about prison life, that was contradicted by the book. I think that society has a misconception of what prison life actually is like, due to the lack of knowledge. Prison is not a way of life, though the recidivism rate is quite high. According to the text, 67. 5 percent of inmates released will be re-arrested for another crime within three years, 46. percent will be reconvicted of a another crime, 25. 4 will be be back in prison in because of another crime and 51. 8 percent of inmates will be returning to prison with or without a new sentence (Foster, 2006,p. 400). Works Cited CNN. (2007, ). CNN. Retrieved August 03, 2010, from CNN. com: http://www. cnn. com/2009/CRIME/03/02/record. prison. population/ Foster, B. (2006). Corrections The Fundamentals. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall . Prisons, F. B. (n. d. ). Retrieved August 03, 2010, from Federal Bureau of Prisons: http://www. bop. gov/ Things To Do In Prison . (2003). Retrieved August 2010, from Prison Talk: http://www. prisontalk. com/forums/archive/index. php/t-13204. html