The Collective Agreement Of Prison Inmates Sociology Essay Example
The Collective Agreement Of Prison Inmates Sociology Essay Example

The Collective Agreement Of Prison Inmates Sociology Essay Example

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  • Pages: 10 (2695 words)
  • Published: August 17, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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The origins and character of inmate codification have not been unanimously agreed upon in the academic domain (Wellford, 1967) and are commonly interpreted in the literature using two opposing positions: the 'deprivation' and 'importation' models (Grapendaal, 1990; Gover, Mackenzie & Armstrong, 2000). The deprivation model takes a functionalist approach to the development of the inmate normative system (Feld, 1981), suggesting that the code emerges as a response to alleviate the inherent challenges of captivity (Sykes, 1958; Sykes and Messinger, 1960 as cited in Johnson, Savitz & Wolfgang, 1962; Goffman, 1961).

The described theoretical model views prisons as closed societal systems where outside influences are largely disregarded. This belief serves as the core foundation of the importing model. However, the importing model challenges the closed system approach by advocating for the


systematic consideration of pre-prison experiences and individualistic qualities of inmates, which are seen as major factors in the level of code attachment. Despite potential conflicts between these two models, several authors have recognized the need to merge both positions into a more comprehensive theoretical model that explains the nature of inmate code.

This cognition has led to the 3rd theoretical account of assimilation- the 'integration theoretical account ' ( Wellford 1967 ; Adams, 1992 ) . In the old ages wining Clemmer 's ( 1958 ) open uping research, sociologists became fascinated with the construct of prisonization and began to spread out on the content that constituted the normative codification ( Winfree, et al. , 2002 ) . Early research literature on the content of the inmate codification ( for e.g. Sykes, 1958 ; Sykes and Messinger, 1960 as cited in Johnson, et al. , 1962 )

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emphasized a figure of cyclic subjects including: " ( 1 ) axioms that caution- 'do n't interfere with inmate involvements ' , 'never rat on a con ' , and 'be loyal to your category of cons ' ( 2 ) injunctions to forbear from statements with fellow inmates- 'do n't lose your caput ' , and 'play it cool and make your ain clip ' ( 3 ) warnings to avoid the development of others- 'do n't work inmates ' and 'be right ' ( 4 ) regulations which advise the care of self- 'do n't weaken ' and 'be tough- be a adult male ' and ( 5 ) axioms which forbid giving prestigiousness or regard to the prison staff- 'do n't be a chump ' and 'be crisp ' ( Bartollas, Miller & A ; Dinitz, 1975 ; pp.

According to various sources, including Wellford (1967), Liebling & Maruna (2005), and Mays and Winfree (2009), it is evidenced that inmates exhibit a strong adherence to approved behavior. Sykes and Messinger (1960), as cited in Johnson et al. (1962), describe inmates as being "fierce" in their statements about approved behavior. This commitment to the code of conduct is widely recognized by Liebling & Maruna (2005), who refer to it as "almost universal." Despite the diversity of prison populations, other researchers agree that the code of conduct remains a pervasive socialization mechanism, which inmates collectively endorse and identify with (Sykes & Messinger, 1960, as cited in Johnson et al.).

The text states that any inmate who violates the norms of the codification faces various penalties including physical and sexual violence, social banishment, and sometimes even death

(Sykes & Messinger, 1960 as cited in Johnson et al., 1962). The prison regimen presents significant obstacles for inmates to assimilate properly (Einat & Einat, 2000). Goffman's studies (1961) reveal that institutional rules and their implementation display a clear sense of cruelty and malice towards inmates.

One way that prisons maintain inmate subordination is by imposing harsh punishments and strict rules for disobedience (Goffman, 1961; Einat & A; Einat, 2000). This often leads inmates to view the prison and its administration as cruel and malicious (Cole & A; Smith, 2010). In order to cope with the oppressive and authoritarian environment created by prison authorities, inmates look for ways to avoid suffering and gain social support (Einat & A; Einat, 2000), as demonstrated by Irwin (1962). The cohesive inmate code serves as a functional means for prisoners to establish a meaningful social network that enhances their sense of self-worth and dignity (McCorkle & Korn, 1954) (Bartollas, et al.).

, 1979; Adams, 1992). Sykes & Messinger (1960) state that as the inmate adheres to the inmate code, the hardships of imprisonment become less severe (Sykes & Messinger, 1960, pp. 14 as cited in Johnson, et al., 1962). Additionally, Mays and Winfree (2009) emphasize that the code serves as a form of solidarity among inmates and opposes the values of conventional society and prison officials (Mays & Winfree, 2009, pp. 194).

According to Einat & A ; Einat (2000), inmates tied to the codifications sense of solidarity, express their negative feelings and anger towards prison governments. They show disdain and immense choler toward them. McCorkle and Korn (1954, pp. 88) state that the codification allows captives to "reject their rejectors instead

than themselves." This suggests that the inmate codification is considered crimogenic because it enhances the effectiveness, power, and solidness of the inmate subculture through its collective denouncement of the prison staff. This denouncement serves as a response to the external society's punitive and rejecting acts (Sykes ; A ; Messinger, 1960 as cited in Johnson, et al., 1962 ; Ramirez, 1984).

Socialisation literature on the inmate codification primarily explores two competing frameworks through which to illustrate and interpret the prisoner's adoption of the inmate codification (Akers, R. Hayner, N., & Gruninger, 1977); the importing and want models (Gover, MacKenzie & Armstrong, 2000). Deprivation theory can be traced back to early sociological research, including Clemmer's (1958) work on 'prisonization', where he portrayed the codification as an adaptive response to the inherent needs of imprisonment (Grapendaal, 1990; Stohr & Hemmens, 2004).

Borrowing from Clemmer's original idea, Gresham Sykes and Sheldon Messinger, who are the main examples of the want theoretical account (Schwartz, 1971), argue that inmates accepting the prison subculture and values is a response to what Gresham Sykes (1958) termed as the "strivings of imprisonment" in his classic study 'The Society of Captives' (Sykes, 1958; Goffman, 1961; Thomas & Foster, 1973). According to this perspective, inmates are said to experience a variety of problems, desires, and frustrations that are inherent in institutionalism (Sykes, 1958; Goffman, 1961; Hartnagel & Gillian, 1980; Ramirez, 1984), including the loss of belongings and services, heterosexual relationships, autonomy, independence, and safety (Krebs, 2002; Cole & Smith, 2010). These distressing and autonomy-stripping experiences are believed to be alleviated through engagement in and internalization of the normative code (McCorkle & Korn, 1954; Ramirez, 1984). Numerous academics

have conducted research exploring prison-specific factors that influence the degree of code assimilation using the principles of the want theoretical account (Gover et al., 2000).

The 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, conducted by Professor Phillip Zimbardo, is a powerful example of how the derivation theoretical accounts rule constructs can be foregrounded (Liebling & Maruna, 2005; Pollock, 2006). In this study, twenty-five average male college students were randomly assigned the roles of prisoners or guards in a fake prison set up in the psychology department basement (Haney, Banks & Zimbardo, 1973). These college students were psychologically healthy and normal, with no history of violence or irresponsible behavior (Pollock, 2006; Liebling & Maruna, 2005). However, they were significantly affected by the influential power of the prison environment (Haney et al., 1973). Haney and Zimbardo (1998) explain that even emotionally strong college students randomly assigned to be mock prisoners experienced severe psychological trauma and disarray.

According to Haney and Zimbardo (1998), some students pleaded to be released from the intense and stimulating confinement that lasted less than a week, while others blindly obeyed the unfair authority of the guards. Additionally, there was evidence of inmates openly defying the guards, giving up, betraying fellow inmates, and even collaborating to sabotage the staff (Pollock, 2006). Ultimately, Zimbardo's controlled prison study demonstrated the astonishing level of control that prisons exercise over those who are confined within them (Haney et al., 1992; Haney & Zimbardo, 1998).

Although there is increasing support for the importational model in the academic community, some argue that too much emphasis has been placed on the prison experience as the sole determinant of prison behavior (Schwartz, 1971; Stohr & Hemmens, 2004). Irwin

and Cressey (1962) highlight a growing consensus in the literature to focus discussions on cultural transmission within the prison environment, neglecting the notion that inmates bring their own culture with them (Irwin & Cressey, 1962, pp. 225). In an attempt to bridge this gap in the literature, Clarence Schrag (1961) formulated the importational model (Schwartz, 1971). Schrag argues that the values and norms of the prison subculture are imported from the outside world (Schrag, 1961; Krebs, 2002). Essentially, importationalists challenge the idea that prisons are closed systems where inmates adopt the subculture as a way to cope with deprivation (Schrag, 1961; Irwin & Cressey, 1962).

According to Krebs (2002), individuals with criminal behavior often develop specific perspectives in society, and these attitudes continue to influence them once they enter the prison system. Irwin and Cressey (1962) also held the belief that inmate behavior is merely a continuation of the norms, attitudes, and motivations they held prior to imprisonment. Akers et al. (1977) further support this notion by suggesting that the characteristics of the individual precede factors associated with being in captivity.

Personal attributes such as race, age, societal category, educational attainment prior to collar, pre-prison employment, income prior to captivity, and anterior condemnable history are crucial factors in determining ways of inmate accommodation (Akers, et al., 1977; Adams, 1992; Gover, et al., 2000). An important example that illustrates this model is Asher's 1986 study of juvenile delinquents at Turana Youth Training Center. Asher's research aimed to observe and evaluate the approaches through which male juveniles experienced and adapted to institutional residency (Asher, 1986).

According to Asher's study, Turana young people from different areas such as Broadmeadows, Prahran, Preston,

and identifiable groups like the Flinders Street Sharpies tended to form alliances within the prison (Asher, 1986). The study suggests that the code of conduct observed in prison is more applicable to interactions among valued peer groups outside the prison environment (Asher, 1986, pp 128). The emergence of subcultures within Asher's study demonstrates how certain mechanisms of the inmate social system exist in the general population and carry over into prisons, influencing inmate behavior, the nature of subcultures, and inmate values (Irwin & Cressey, 1962; Krebs, 2002). Traditionally, the deprivation and importation models have been seen as mutually exclusive explanations for inmate behavior (Grapendaal, 1990; Krebs, 2002).

Early researchers supported either the importing model, which measures how much inmates bring their subcultures into the prison system, or the deprivation model, which examines the extent to which inmates adapt to prison by following the inmate code developed within the institution (Wellford 1967; Akers et al., 1977; Grapendaal, 1990; Krebs, 2002). Despite the insights provided by these adaptation theories, some academics have concluded that the best way to enhance our understanding of the inmate code is by integrating both theories into a more comprehensive model (integration studies include Akers et al., 1977; Grapendaal, 1990; Krebs, 2002).

The study conducted by Krebs in 2002 focused on the transmission of HIV within prisons and used an integrated theoretical model to analyze behavior within prison subculture. The data collected in this study identified various lifestyle factors prior to incarceration that increase the risk of HIV transmission among certain inmates (Krebs, 2002). According to Irwin (1970), prisoners engaging in homosexual relationships can be classified as either "true" homosexuals who continue these relationships while

in prison, "submissive" inmates who become victims of rape, or "control" inmates who seek to dominate others sexually (Irwin, 1970). Homosexual relationships in prison are considered high-risk behavior for HIV transmission due to limited access to clean condoms and safe practices (Stohr & Hemmens, 2004).

Krebs (2002) identified inmates who bring their drug use and injection practices into prison, where they lack sterile needles and safe injection practices (as also noted in Cole & Smith, 2010). While these high-risk factors support the importation model of adaptation, Krebs (2002) also identified characteristics associated with the deprivation model of behavior. Many inmates enter the prison system without any indication of pre-prison HIV risk behaviors; however, after being exposed to the deprivations of incarceration, some engage in high-risk behaviors (Krebs, 2002). The absence of heterosexual relationships often leads to experimentation with same-sex inmates as a means of fulfillment (Adams, 1992). Others cope with the hardships of imprisonment by resorting to intravenous drugs (Krebs, 2002). The risk of these behaviors is further heightened by the fact that many inmates lack access to clean needles and condoms (Krebs, 2002; Cole & Smith, 2010).

In summary, this text highlights the integration model as an important theory in understanding the deprivation experienced by inmates who adhere to the inmate code and the individualistic characteristics of the inmate subculture that follows the code (Grapendaal, 1990). Previous sociological research on inmate adherence to the normative code has relied on outdated patterns and concepts (Akers, et al., 1977). Early studies focused on inmate solidarity and norms during a time when prison conditions and the inmate population were different from today's context (Cole; Smith, 2010). Therefore, current inmate

behavior may be evaluated using outdated ideals that are no longer applicable to their actions (Liebling; Maruna, 2005).

Multiple early theoretical studies investigating the inmate code referenced racial diversity, with the majority depicting a perception of inmate uniformity (Stohr & Hemmens, 2004). However, the prisons predominantly occupied by white individuals, as described by Irwin and Cressey (1962), have experienced significant changes over time, with a notable increase in cultural minorities and gang-affiliated members entering the prison system (Irwin & Cressey, 1962; Johnson, 2002; Pollock, 2006). According to Jacobs (1977), African American inmates form more cohesive cliques or gangs within prison compared to their Caucasian counterparts. It is argued that "Black" inmates adapt more successfully to prison culture due to shared gang or ghetto backgrounds and the presence of racial solidarity resulting from pre-prison discrimination (Stohr & Hemmens, 2004). Consequently, inmate associations are characterized as loosely detached, with loyalty shifting from an "inmate class" to "loyalty to one's race, ethnic group, clique, or gang" (Mays & Winfree, 2009, pp.).

199 ) . Drugs in prison have also become a significant factor in undermining inmate solidarity, often causing a decline in the loyalty of inmates to each other. In a study conducted by Einat and Einat (2000), several inmates admitted to engaging in violence and theft resulting from drug-induced debts, and confessed to betraying other drug users and the prison code in order to obtain or conceal their personal drug supply (also mentioned in Liebling & Maruna, 2005; Cole & Smith, 2010). The implementation of new methods of institutional management, such as early/temporary release and incentive systems, serves as mitigating factors that contribute to prisoners' desire to comply with

the authorities (Liebling & Maruna, 2005). "Herea?¦..people don't want to stick together. Even though it would work in their benefit if they did stick together.

However, simultaneously, you may think that if we stick together, officers will take away my improved status and I will lose my job. Is it worth the risk... I don't think so... I'd rather keep my enhanced and make life a little bit easier'' (Liebling; A; Maruna, 2005; pp. 181). Based on this mindset, commitment to one's principle circle is not beyond discussion (Pollock, 2006). It is generally acknowledged that inmates can adjust their loyalty boundaries by ignoring actions that jeopardize or prolong their progression through the system (Liebling & Maruna, 2005).

Despite the fact that the inmate codification still exists in prison establishments, it is no longer a single, comprehensive system of prohibition. Instead, it has become fragmented and transformed, with many prisoners aligning themselves along racial and individual lines. The inmate codification is an important theoretical foundation used by sociologists to study acceptance of penal subculture. It is seen as the ideal behavior template for inmates. Two competing theoretical models, the "deprivation model" and the "importation model", have been used to analyze the code. The deprivation model focuses on studying the needs specific to the prison environment, while the importation model highlights how inmates bring outside subcultures into the prison system. Many studies have found supportive evidence for both models and argue for the need to combine them into a more inclusive theoretical model of inmate codification attachment.In the past, early theoretical accounts have provided valuable insight into the various elements, including the environment and individual factors, that contribute to

the formation and maintenance of the prison subculture and its corresponding set of rules (Krebs, 2002).

However, according to Simon's ( 2000 ) recent studies on the inner workings of prisons are scarce. Detailed descriptions of the everyday social structure, norms, and practices of the modern prison system, which has changed significantly in recent years, are lacking ( Liebling ; A ; Maruna, 2005 ) . Recent accounts point to the influence of racial diversity, gang and clique formation, and the emergence of a serious drug culture within prisons as factors that have significantly eroded solidarity ( Cole ; A ; Smith, 2010 ) . Prison researchers risk losing sight of the shifts in the transformation of the contemporary normative system because they are blinded by early theories that may only be historical relics ( Irwin, 1970 ; Winfree, et al. , 2002 ; Liebling ; A ; Maruna, 2005 ) .

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