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Criminal Justice - Life in Prison

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Life in Prison

When an individual is introduced to the prison life, after violating rules and laws, he or she must come to terms about the journey he or she are about to take behind bars in prison. No one can save them, or do their time for them, and a majority of their freedom has been stripped from them either temporarily or permanently. Prison life deals with all walks of life and is not discriminative toward any race. In this paper I will discuss my perspective on prison life, policies I would enforce an inmate's need for respect, changes on correctional policy, and why people commit crimes.

I have learned many things about prison life. I have in fact changed my perception of what I thought prison life was like. Prison is in fact a fight for survival where the stronger inmates will abuse the weaker inmates. Not only survival from inmates, but from a few corrupted correctional officials as well. When entering prison, one must be perceived as a tough individual to avoid being abused or bullied by other inmates. In addition to other inmates, there are some correctional officers that bully and abuse certain inmates for many reasons. This also gives reason for inmates to hold a sturdy ground while incarcerated. S.D. (2003), currently, prison administrator's house inmates together based on their desire for violence, misconduct, and escape. The idea behind this is that grouping dangerous inmates together allows prison administrators to concentrate surveillance resources on those most in need.

I have learned that prison has an inmate social system, characterized by social roles and an inmate code. Exposure to the social system of the prison community begins as soon as a prisoner enters the institution. I have observed that inmates become quickly aware of norms and values that are shared by their fellow inmates. The inmates have to adjust to not getting what they want and when they want it (Carceral2004 pg.68).

When incarcerated you have to learn the prison slang to survive. Understanding prison slang was mandatory to survive in prison; the inmates had to learn this langue because it was vital to communicate efficiently with other inmates. Inmates knew if they used the word "Punk or Niggas" there would be a fight if you weren't close with a black inmate.

Policies I would Enforce to Aid Inmate Adjustment

Prisons have many policies set in place to help aid inmates' with adjusting to prison life. No matter what policies are set in place to help aid inmates they will always have a hard time especially for first timers. According to Frank Schmalleger and John Ortiz Smykla (2009) new inmates face major problems because of the loss of liberty, lack of material possessions, the depravation of materials and services, the lack of heterosexual relationships, and feeling unsecured. I think that inmates can be helped with the adjustment process by initiating and enforcing a program to deal with such issues. I think I would eliminate policies that are designed to make prison life unpleasant and concentrate more on policies that help inmates progress in their educational and rehabilitation programs. One policy that is very important to inmates is to feel safe in their prison environment. As a result there have been many debates on the rights of the inmates. I think the most important policy I would enforce is educational programs that will build confidence, upgrade inmate skills, shape attitudes, and at the same time promote social adjustment. According to Mackenzie Doris L. and Shaw James W (2007) there is evidence that a program called Shock Incarceration changed the attitudes of how offenders see their prison experience. A study was performed on several inmates who participated in shock incarceration and several inmates who dropped from the program. The study showed that shock incarceration offenders differed significantly from those in the regular prison in their adjustment to the prison environment. These program prison inmates were more positive in their experience and attitudes toward the future. Those who dropped out from the program had less pro-social attitudes.

Inmates' Respect, Hope, and Safety Needs

Prison inmates are people and just like anybody else they want respect, they want hope and help to retain it, and they have the need to feel safe in their environment. I think the main need for them is to acquire respect in an environment that is very rough. Respect means to show and receive courteous gestures for people's feelings. It is normal for inmates not to want to be treated like less than human and just because they have committed a crime it does not mean they have forfeited their rights to respect. I think that when inmates show respect and receive respect they also guarantee themselves some safety. Hope is a feeling or belief that keeps everyone moving forward to a better tomorrow. Keeping hope going in the inmates' minds is very important for the corrections department in order to redirect the goals, attitude, and dreams of the inmates. Safety is also a top priority for inmates' because they are housed in an environment that houses thousand of other inmates. It is the need for safety that forces many inmates to join prison gangs or cliques. There are so many gangs or cliques in prison that inmates are always on alert for any attacks or danger.

Correctional Policy Changes I would Suggest

Correctional policies have been set in place to protect both inmates and correctional officers but they have also been placed to decide the sentencing, probation, and programs that each inmate must receive. I think that in today's criminal justice



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