The Inmate World - Essay Sample about Prisons

Published: 2022-05-24
The Inmate World - Essay Sample about Prisons
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Penal system
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1839 words
16 min read

Individuals who are taken to prison look at the action as a punishment and not for corrective measures. That is to mean that when one is imprisoned, they believe that this is not supposed to be the case since prisoners view imprisonment as a punishment as it cuts them off from their normal life as well as active involvement in the civil society. Nonetheless, the key agenda of prisons is to make sure that the existence of law protects individual's rights. This failure to abide by the rules and regulations leads one into prison. As a result, imprisonment serves the purpose of not only punishing the law offenders but also offers other services like a deterrent, incapacitation, and rehabilitation (Day, Brauer, & Butler, 2015). Despite the fact these are the primary aims of imprisoning individuals, this matter has received a lot of opposition by criticism from policymakers, theorists and the larger society regarding the relative significance of prison services. Nonetheless, the modern world is countering such criticism by ensuring that prisons meet the modern social purpose. Consequently, modern prisons target is to support inmates' reform by helping them with literacy, addictions as well as offering them with employment program opportunities to decline cases of reoffending (Day, Brauer, & Butler, 2015). Prison life is a diverse body of work consisting of concepts such as law, space, gender, political economy, and ethnicity as well as national and international governance.

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Prison life was first researched by Donald Clemmer in his writing In The Prison Community where the scholar presents a study on prison social life (Miller, & Campbell, 2014). Regarding the carried out, study Clemmer comes with the notion of 'prisonisation,' which is assumed as the impact of the prison experience on inmates. Thus it gives a description process that is followed by inmates particularly the penitentiary general culture and customs. Accordingly, researchers argue that 'prisonisation' can happen to a lesser or greater extent based on a range of aspects such as the level of interaction with peer groups in the jail, period of the sentence, among other things and the re-entry ties outside prison. Several aspects linked to the process come from the peculiarities, environmental restrictions of the prison, the powerlessness acceptance of the prisoner's position as well as the state in which inmates are required to dress, eat, work, sleep among others.

Similarly, Brown a professor in Sociology from Harvard University notes that the relational factors also play a significant role in influencing the process. According to the Clemmer the philosopher, the leading factor is the level at which inmates integrate into among the penitentiary community. On the same note, Sykes goes further to explain the reason as to why inmates are forced to conform to specific groups while in prison. The scholar argues that penitentiary setting consists of a lot of challenges and excessive pressure. Hence it alters the relational parameters amongst convicts. Therefore, convicts find it challenging to operate on their own which forces them to adopt specific survival mechanisms of the surrounding as well as of their fellow prisoners for them to endure penitentiary life (Miller & Campbell, 2014). Custodial life comes with some deprivation such as freedom, heterosexual relationship, goods and services, security and autonomy. As such, the deprivations leads to destabilizing of the reformatory exercise which results in competition amongst inmates in doing underground activities as well as unlawful ventures together with other informal structures.

Subsequently, for one to identify themselves with a certain group of inmates, one is supposed to adhere to the 'inmate rules and regulations,' which is regarded as a sign of loyalty to the group and antagonist to prison personnel. Accordingly, the outcome of this process is a refutation of social norms which leads to a continued commitment to value systems that are external to the regulations as well as expediencies of the conventional society. As a result, there are some theories concerning life experience in prison that are controlled by academic thinking and understandings thus these concepts remains influential in the modern society.

Prison has a lot of power. The prison is a country's symbol of power which allows the state to exercise punishment to the law offenders. As a result, through a penitentiary, the government can label a lawbreaker as a criminal a label that is not easy to shake off. At the same time, it is a way of public condemnation of an individual's acts. Therefore, the lawbreaker is secluded from the ordinary society by being taken to prison. However, while the process may sound good to the community because I am a way of protecting the public from the interference of their liberty, to the inmate's side, the process comes with a stigma. Thus, this stigma can remain resolutely attached to the person even long time after their re-entry into the free world.

The prison is a whole institution. Sykes argues that the prison is an entire society by itself because it comprises its control measures in all parts of an inmate's existence. Dissimilar from the ordinary human existence, in a total institution, all aspects of an individual's life are under control and anything that happens takes place in a single point. In prison, prisoners work from the same confinement region be it working, spending leisure, eating or sleeping. The total institution is powerful since it has powerful psychological as well as social impact to one's sense of identity and capacity to function (Miller, & Campbell, 2014). The total institution lifestyle is characterized by the obstacle to social participation with the external world but only consists of high walls, ever locked doors and barbed wires. Indeed, this type of life is degrading and makes prisoners to experience a 'mortification of self' whereby their past identity gets interfered with the latest institutional identities that take place.

Prison structure has their unique subcultures. Within the prison, specific rules regulate inmates' conduct that is enforced by the prison personnel as well as informal codes of conduct such as no "grassing on" other inmates to prison officials. The prison has its artificial social environment which generates its attitudes, values, vocabularies and well as beliefs (Ruggiero, 2015). Convicts conform to this culture in a process referred to as prisonisation. Nevertheless, prisonization may mean otherwise where a criminal can get used to life in prison to the point that they are unable to lead outside life after their term is over. According to Clemmer and Sykes prison subculture is as a result of the structural-functionalist paradigm understanding. Prison subculture results from importation theory which finds its way into the jail from outside by criminals who have been accustomed to their belief and street norms ("Criminalization of Gender", 2018). That means that prison subculture echoes the criminals subculture in the streets. The socialization process outside the jail occurs for an extended period for most convicts thus it stands high chances to continue such people find themselves in jail. Also, subculture can be as a result of indigenous jail culture and exportation theory. Prison subculture is as a result of socialization which happens in jail which results from the pains that inmates undergo due to deprivation (Mitchell, Fahmy, Pyrooz, & Decker, 2017). Therefore, prisoners are forced to come up with value systems by involving themselves in certain conducts as a way to ease the pain of deprivation.

Regarding the crime-functionalist theory, the theory notes that crime and deviance cannot be evaded and it is, therefore, necessary for a complete society. Through individuals committing crimes, it helps to show members of the society about both the right and wrong whereby the social consensus is deciding on how to arrive at a right or wrong. Therefore, functionalism address the public basing of the functionality of its features such as norms, traditions, and customs of a given community (Mitchell, Fahmy, Pyrooz, & Decker, 2017). Functionalists argue that the society is likely to experience change through crime since the existence of crime proves to the society that the government does not entirely control its citizens. Similarly, through crime, it acts as a source of social economy development because it creates employment opportunities for law enforcement personnel such as probation officers, psychiatrists, and law enforcement officers. Nonetheless, still in a functionalist setting excessive criminalities can be a menace to the community resulting in the loss of the standard harmony which finally can result in the collapsing of the society. Accordingly, based on functionalist theory a prisoner's culture develops in response to the imprisonment deprivations and frustrations.

On the other hand, the crime-conflict theory looks at crime as a law that targets to govern the less fortunate in the society which is considered as an outcome of a fight for power and control by wealthy individuals. Thus, these people come up with laws as a way to control behaviors that may seem to threaten their interests ("Criminalization of Gender", 2018). As a result, powerless and poor people stand more likely of being arrested and convicted for petty crimes as compared to the mighty people. Consequently, this is the reason as to why there is an increased crime rate amongst the poor because they do not have the chance to improve their standard of living as well as their economic status. Certainly, research has shown that due to crime-conflict theory some law enforcement officers do collude with some wealthy criminals (Haney, 2017). Therefore, it has made it impossible for prisons to attain their corrective measures because of convicts corrupt law enforcement officials. Consequently, such flaws lead to the entry of illegal things inside the prison-like drugs, and weapons which have at some point caused injury to both inmates and at times law enforcement officers.

In conclusion, regardless of the prison enforcement measures target being to ensure that lawbreakers are taken to prison so that they can undergo behavioral changes, the inmate world still face a lot of challenges. It is high time that all prison stakeholders specifically law enforcement officers must stand out and help the penitentiaries attain their goals. To realize efficiency among law enforcement officers' prisons should appreciate technology such as the use of CC TV cameras to pin down the corrupt officers who instead of supporting the program to ensure a reformed criminal they cooperate with them in importing illegal devices and drugs inside prisons.


Criminalization of Gender. (2018). Past, Present, Prison. Retrieved 26 April 2018, from

Day, J. C., Brauer, J. R., & Butler, H. D. (2015). Coercion and social support behind bars: Testing an integrated theory of misconduct and resistance in US prisons. Criminal justice and behavior, 42(2), 133-155.

Haney, C. (2017). The consequences of prison life: Notes on the new psychology of prison effects. In Psychology and Law (pp. 157-180). Routledge.

Miller, V., & Campbell, J. (Eds.). (2014). Transnational Penal Cultures: New Perspectives on Discipline, Punishment, and Desistance. Routledge.

Mitchell, M. M., Fahmy, C., Pyrooz, D. C., & Decker, S. H. (2017). Criminal crews, codes, and contexts: differences and similarities across the code of the street, convict code, street gangs, and prison gangs. Deviant behavior, 38(10), 1197-1222.

Ruggiero, V. (2015). Book review: Transnational Penal Cultures. New Perspectiv...

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