Predators Behind Bars
CJ-2511 Corrections Services
Instructor: Kevin Dooley
November 28, 2011
Predators Behind Bars
The National Geographic series "Lockdown" Predators Behind Bars uncovers the financial struggle between gangs in prison. The show also examines the challenges of new inmates and new correctional officers. Ironically, both new inmates and correctional officers face some of the same challenges. For example, cameras follow a new correction officer (Johnson) around the prison as he performs his duties. He faces challenges in the form of verbal and non-verbal cues from inmates. Inmates are involved in an exploration of boundaries, attempting to determine if they're able to utilize him for their own needs. The inmates look for weaknesses and attempt to expose any sign of vulnerability. For a new correctional officer this means working under the constant scrutiny of the inmates. This same tactic is also utilized on new inmates. However, the obvious difference is the correctional officer gets to go home after shift. The new inmate may be there for a sustained period of time. The time one spends behind bars is complex due to the inmate subculture and roles established by informal and formal leadership. We'll spend the next few moments exploring the subculture and different leadership roles.
New inmates face the daunting challenge of "blending in" as soon so possible. Finding some common denominator with anyone who can offer protection and prison wisdom provides a small sense of security. One of the tactics as depicted in the "Lockdown" series is to be friendly and attempt to isolate them. Once isolated the predator prisoner will be able to "run" whatever game he wants on the newbie. According to "Journal of Offender Rehabilitation" (2002) during the first few days of incarceration prisoners face separation from family and friends, shame and self-reproach and uncertainty about the future. As time drags along prisoners face stressors such as; the loss of outside relationships, frustration with the legal system and a sense of victimization. The article "Journal of Offender Rehabilitation" (2002) also offers suggestions for informal and formal support. Informal support included; family members on the outside and other inmates. Formal support included; psychologist, nursing staff, chaplains, prison guards, and peer-support programs.
The next few paragraphs we'll spend unpacking a few theories. The first theory is the depravity theory. The theory suggest that one is deprived of specific pains that incarceration imposes on prisoners, which include the loss of liberty, material goods and services, heterosexual relationships, autonomy, and personal security. These are also known as the "Five pains". Based on this theory, prisoners loose many of the things they hold sacred. This also opens the possibility for someone else with entrepreneur skills to step in and develop a business. Businesses such as prostitution and selling drugs become a way to make money and have power over others. Controlling inmate's property is necessary; however it does come with drawbacks and added expense for prisons. According to Allen, A. E., Latessa (2009) death-row inmates recieve only photocopies of letters sent to them. The reasoning is a danger of poisoning from chemicals sprayed on stationary or liquid poison on stamps. This was implimented to reduce the number of death-row inmate suicides.
Importation theory claims that inmate subcultures are brought into prisons from the outside world. For example all inmates brought something from the outside into the prison system. Many inmates have gang experience, been through the system before either as an adult or juvenile. Personal expectations as well as education have an impact on the inmate's environment.