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Chapter 11 Prison Life, Inmate Rights, Release and Recidivism.
Transcript of Chapter 11 Prison Life, Inmate Rights, Release and Recidivism.
By Kyle Thompson and Matt Kotewa Chapter 11 After completing this chapter, you
should be able to:
Distinguish between the deprivation and importation models of inmate society.
Explain how today’s inmate society differs from those of the past.
Identify some of the special features of life in women’s prisons. Chapter Eleven
Prison Life, Inmate Rights, Release and Recidivism Describe the profile of correctional officers and explain some of the issues that they face.
Identify prisoners’ rights and relate how they were achieved.
List the two most common ways that inmates are released from prison and compare those two ways in frequency of use.
Summarize what recidivism research reveals about the success of the prison in achieving deterrence and rehabilitation. Continued When most people think of prisons, they
usually imagine the big-house,
maximum-security prison for men.
However, institutions are quite diverse. Living in Prison In his classic book, Asylums, Erving
Goffman described prisons as total
institutions. Although prisons are
certainly influenced by the outside
world, they are also separated and
closed off from that world. Inmate Society An institutional setting in which persons
sharing some characteristics are cut off
from the wider society and expected to
live according to institutional rules and
procedures. Total Institutions Central to the inmate society of
traditional men’s prisons is the convict
A constellation of values, norms, and roles
that regulate the way inmates interact with
one another and with prison staff. Inmate Society Principles of the convict code include:
Inmates should mind their own affairs.
Inmates should not inform the staff about the illicit activities of other prisoners.
Inmates should be indifferent to staff and loyal to other convicts.
Conning and manipulation skills are valued. Inmate Society Two major theories of the origins of the
inmate society have been advanced:
The deprivation model.
The importation model. Inmate Society The deprivation model explains prison
society as a reaction to the shared
deprivation of prison life.
A theory that the inmate society arises as a
response to the prison environment and the
painful conditions of confinement. Inmate Society When an inmate enters prison for the first time, the inmate experiences prisonization, according to Donald Clemmer.
The longer inmates stay in prison, the more prisonized they become, and the more likely they will return to crime after their release. Inmate Society The process by which an inmate
becomes socialized into the customs
and principles of the inmate society. Prisonization The importation model is an alternative to the deprivation model.
A theory that the inmate society is shaped by
the attributes inmates bring with them when
they enter prison. Inmate Society Inmates who were thieves and persistently associated with other thieves before going to prison bring the norms and values of thieves into the prison.
Likewise, generally law abiding people will be more likely to be loyal to staff norms while in prison. Importation Model Today’s inmate society is socially
fragmented, disorganized, and unstable,
Increasing racial heterogeneity.
The racial polarization of modern prisoners.
The rise and fall of rehabilitation.
The increased politicalization of inmates. Inmate Society Commonly cited reasons for high rates
of prison violence include:
Improper management and classification practices by staff.
High levels of crowding and competition over resources.
The young age of most inmates in many prisons.
Increases in racial tensions and prison gang activity. Violence and Victimization Common motives for physical violence
in prison are:
To demonstrate power and dominance over others.
To retaliate against a perceived wrong, such as the failure of another inmate to pay a gambling debt.
To prevent the perpetrator from being victimized (for example, raped) in the future. Violence and Victimization A good deal of prison violence—but not
all—has sexual overtones. In addition,
not all instances of sex in prison are violent.
not all instances of sex in prison are homosexual.
sexual encounters can involve both inmates and staff. Violence and Victimization Instances of prison sex can be further
divided into three basic categories:
Consensual sex for gratification.
Sexual assault. Violence and Victimization Physical victimization is not the only or
even the most frequent kind of
victimization in prison. Other kinds
These may be perpetrated by inmates or staff. Violence and Victimization Like all societies, the inmate society has
an economy with a black-market
component, known as the sub-rosa
The secret exchange of goods and services
that, though often illicit, are in high demand
among inmates; the black market of the
prison. Violence and Victimization Cigarettes often serve as the medium of exchange because currency is typically contraband.
The sub-rosa economy sets the stage for various kinds of economic victimization, including theft, robbery, fraud, extortion, and loan-sharking. Violence and Victimization Psychological victimization consists of
subtle manipulation tactics and mind
games that occur frequently in prison.
Staff members threaten to expose information from an inmate’s file.
Inmates threaten to tell superiors about staff corruption. Violence and Victimization Social victimization involves prejudice
or discrimination against a person
Other factors. Violence and Victimization Life is prison is different from living in
the free community. Prison life includes:
Pronounced deprivation of personal freedom and material goods.
Loss of privacy.
Competition for scarce resources.
Greater insecurity, stress, unpredictability. Inmate Coping and Adjustment Prison life also encourages qualities
counter to those required for
functioning effectively in the free
Discouraging personal responsibility and independence.
Creating excessive dependency on authority.
Diminishing personal control over life events. Inmate Coping and Adjustment Robert Johnson identifies two broad
ways that inmates cope with
Entering the public domain.
Entering the private culture. Inmate Coping and Adjustment The inmates in the prison’s public domain are predatory and violent and seek power and status by dominating and victimizing others.
Most inmates enter the prison’s private culture. These inmates find in the diverse environment of the institution a niche that will accommodate their needs, such as a job in the library to accommodate a person’s need for privacy and safety. Inmate Coping and Adjustment Inmates usually develop a prison
“Doing time”—getting out as soon as possible and avoiding hard time.
“Jailing”—achieving positions of influence in the inmate society.
“Gleaning”—trying to take advantage of the resources available for personal betterment. Inmate Coping and Adjustment Life in women’s prisons is similar to life
in men’s prisons in some respects, but
there are also important differences.
Women’s prisons are usually not characterized by the levels of violence, interpersonal conflict, and interracial tension found in men’s institutions.
Women’s prisons are often less oppressive. Life in Women’s Prisons Female inmates are more likely to have
children and to have been living with
those children immediately before
In some cases, very young children may live with their mothers in prison for a temporary period.
Some women lose custody of their children.
Often children live with other relatives and have little or no visitation. Life in Women’s Prisons A distinguishing feature of the
inmate society in many women’s
prisons in the presence of make-believe
families, known as pseudofamilies.
Women adopt male and female family roles.
Kinship ties cut across racial lines. Pseudofamilies and
Homosexuality Family activity and homosexual activity appear to be relatively independent of one another.
The majority of female inmates who participate in homosexuality were heterosexual before incarceration and will return to heterosexuality upon release. Pseudofamilies and Homosexuality continued on next slide Esther Heffernan identified three roles
that women commonly adopt when
adjusting to prison:
“Square”—Women who were primarily noncriminals before imprisonment; they tend toward conventional behavior in prison.
“Life”—Habitual offenders who continue to display antisocial and antiauthority behavior. Inmate Roles “Cool”—Sophisticated professional criminals who try to do easy time by manipulating other inmates and the staff to their own advantage. Inmate Roles Research on prison staff remains
sparse compared with research on
inmates. Most studies of prison staff
have concentrated on guards or
correctional officers, because:
They represent the majority of staff members in a prison.
They are responsible for the security of the institution.
They have the most frequent and closest contact with inmates. Correctional Officers Correctional officers face a number of
conflicts in their work:
Boredom and stimulus overload.
Role ambiguity and role strain—officers are expected to both supervise and counsel inmates.
Lack of clear guidelines on how to exercise their discretion in dealing with inmates.
Limits on their power, and the need to negotiate voluntary compliance from inmates. Correctional Officers How do correctional officers respond to
their roles and their work conditions?
Some become alienated and cynical and withdraw from their work.
Others become overly authoritarian and confrontational in a quest to control inmates by intimidation.
Others become corrupt (e.g., selling drugs).
Some adopt a human-services orientation toward their work. Correctional Officers continued on next slide Efforts are under way to transform
prison work from a job into a profession,
but there are problems and issues with
Low pay combined with the nature and location of the work make recruiting difficult.
Lack of competition for jobs makes it difficult to impose restrictive criteria on applicants. Correctional Officers A backlash against affirmative action has resulted in tensions and resentment by white officers.
Training standards are not uniform across or even within jurisdictions.
Professionalization has been accompanied by unionism. Correctional Officers Until the middle of the 20th century, the
courts followed a hands-off
philosophy toward prison matters.
As a consequence, prisoners essentially
had no civil rights. With the growth of
the civil rights movement in the 1960s,
this changed. Inmate Rights and Prison Reform A philosophy under which courts are
reluctant to hear prisoners’ claims
regarding their rights while incarcerated. Hands-off Philosophy The U.S. Supreme Court has granted
Unrestricted access to the federal courts.
The ability to challenge in federal court not only the fact of their confinement but also the conditions under which they are confined
The conditions of confinement (Cooper v. Pate). Access to the Courts and
Legal Services Prior to the Cooper decision, inmates
had relied primarily on habeas corpus
petitions to obtain access to the courts.
The Cooper decision in effect launched
the prisoners’ rights movement by
opening the door to new claims from
prisoners. Access to the Courts and
Legal Services A court order requiring that a confined
person be brought to court so that his or
her claims can be heard. Habeas Corpus To get their cases to court, prisoners
need access to legal materials, and
many of them need legal assistance
from persons skilled in the law.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that jailhouse lawyers (Inmates skilled in legal matters) must be permitted to assist other inmates, and that inmates are entitled to either an adequate law library or adequate legal assistance. Access to the Courts and
Legal Services continued on next slide Inmates can face disciplinary action for
breaking prison rules. The United States
Supreme Court has held that they are
entitled to due process, including:
A disciplinary hearing by an impartial body.
24 hours written notice of the charges. Procedural Due Process in Prison A written statement of the evidence relied on and the reasons for the disciplinary action.
An opportunity to call witnesses and present documentary evidence, provided this does not jeopardize institutional security. Procedural Due Process in Prison The First Amendment to the
Constitution guarantees freedom of
speech, press, assembly, petition, and
religion. The U.S. Supreme Court has
made numerous decisions in this area. First Amendment Rights The Supreme Court ruled that
censorship (such as of a prisoner’s
outgoing mail) is legal only if it furthers
one or more of the following substantial
Rehabilitation. Free Speech Inmates are free to practice either
conventional or unconventional religions
in prison, and prison officials are
obligated to provide accommodations.
Restrictions may be imposed where prison officials can demonstrate convincingly that religious practices compromise security or are unreasonably expensive. Religious Freedom The Eighth Amendment outlaws the
imposition of cruel and unusual
punishment. The courts have
considered a number of issues under
the umbrella of cruel and unusual
punishment. Eighth Amendment Rights In 1976, the Supreme Court decided
Estelle v. Gamble and ruled that
inmates have a right to adequate
However, inmates claiming Eighth
Amendment violations on medical grounds
must demonstrate that prison officials have
shown deliberate indifference to serious
medical problems. Medical Care Brutality is normally considered a tort (a
breach of duty that involves damage to
an individual), rather than a
However, whipping and related forms of corporal punishment have been prohibited under this amendment. Staff Brutality Totality-of-conditions cases involve
claims that some combination of prison
practices and conditions makes the
prison, as a whole, unconstitutional.
In the case of Holt v. Sarver, the entire Arkansas prison system was declared unconstitutional on grounds of totality of conditions and was ordered to implement a variety of changes. Total Prison Conditions Prisons have long had the right to
provide only the minimal conditions
necessary for human survival:
Medical care to sustain life. Total Prison Conditions The Fourteenth Amendment guarantees
due process of law and equal protection
The equal-protection clause protects
against racial discrimination and gender
However, the rights of female inmates
remain underdeveloped. Fourteenth Amendment Rights continued on next slide The almost exclusive reliance on court
intervention to reform the prison system
during the last four decades has cost
funds that could have been better spent
to reform unacceptable practices in the
Meanwhile, prison systems cannot address other problems because they are spending money to defend against other lawsuits. The Limits of Litigation Court litigation is an expensive way to
It is also very slow and piecemeal.
Transformation of prison systems can be chaotic and unstable.
Reforms may take years.
Successful cases usually have limited impact. The Limits of Litigation Inmates may be released from prison in
a number of ways, including:
Expiration of the maximum sentence.
Release at the discretion of a parole authority.
Mandatory release. Release and Recidivism Reduction of the original sentence given
by executive authority, usually a state’s
governor. Commutation One of the most common ways of
release is parole.
In jurisdictions that permit parole release, eligibility for parole normally requires that inmates have served a given portion of their terms, minus time served in jail prior to imprisonment, and minus good time. Release and Recidivism The conditional release of prisoners
before they have served their full
sentences. Parole Time subtracted from an inmate’s
sentence for good behavior and other
meritorious activities in prison. Good Time The other common release measure is
Mandatory release is similar to parole in that persons let out under either arrangement ordinarily receive a period of community supervision by a parole officer. Release and Recidivism A method of prison release under which
an inmate is released after serving a
legally required portion of his or her
sentence, minus good-time credits. Mandatory Release When inmates are released from
correctional institutions, the hope is that
they will not experience recidivism.
The return to illegal activity after release. Release and Recidivism Numerous studies conducted during the
past couple of decades in several
jurisdictions reveal that recidivism rates
have remained remarkably stable. Release and Recidivism At this writing, the most recent national study of recidivism among state prisoners found that 67.5 percent of nearly 300,000 former inmates released from prisons in 1994 were rearrested for a new offense within 3 years of their release.
Other studies have found similar levels of recidivism. Release and Recidivism
In addition, the recent study found:
46.9% were reconvicted for a new crime.
25.4% were resentenced to prison for a new crime.
51.8% were returned to prison (25.4% for a new crime and 26.4% for a technical violation of release conditions. Release and Recidivism A study by Ben Crouch found that newly
incarcerated offenders frequently
express a preference for prison over
Ironically, the public’s demand for more imprisonment may actually foster less deterrence and more prisoners. Release and Recidivism Lynne Goodstein demonstrated that the
inmates who adjusted most successfully
to prison had the most difficulty
adjusting to life in the free community
upon release. Release and Recidivism In the end, imprisonment is a reactive
response to the social problem of crime,
and crime is interwoven with other
social problems such as poverty,
inequality, and racism. Release and Recidivism Prison Life, Inmate Rights, Release, and Recidivism End Chapter Eleven