Prison can be a daunting and psychological challenge for anyone. Experiences can have lifelong effects and can often traumatise those incarcerated. However the experience minority ethnic prisoners face can be deemed diverse. They can become victims of discrimination, racism violence and harassment all on the basis of their race, skin colour, or nationality. Scott and Codd (2010, P. 70) note that ‘prisoners from certain believed culturally or biologically determined ‘racial groups’ are understood as being genetically, intellectually or socially inferior beings, thus contributing to their own poverty of life experiences and criminal identity'. Scott and Codd (2010) state that ‘the prison place racism is a key dimension of the expression of power, shaping prejudicial decisions, exclusionary practices and the physical manifestation of violence, bullying and intimidation’. Scott and Codd (2010, P.70) put forward that ‘this penal terror goes even further for some, such as foreign national prisoners, as it can exacerbate the structured pains of the prison itself. Jewkes and Johnston (2006, P.107) found that ‘prisoners from ethnic minority backgrounds have faced a long struggle in getting the Home Office and Prison Service to recognise their diverse cultural, religious and dietary needs’. Jewkes and Johnston (2006) put forward that the UK prison population has risen by 15,000 since New Labour came to power in 1997, and has doubled since Margaret Thatcher took office in 1979. Inmates from ethnic minority backgrounds account for a large percentage of this figure. For example the white population increased by 36 per cent, Black population grew by 196 per cent, south Asian populations grew by 120 per cent and Chinese/other Asian by 223 per cent (Jewkes and Johnston 2006, P.107).
Four typologies of racial incidents within prison
Edgar (2007) noted that, in attempting to identify the specific forms of racism within prisons can be very difficult. He identifies what is believed are the four main types of racial incidents within prisons. The first he puts forward as a ‘blatant or malicious act or decision’. The components of this approach include the use of racist language, physical abuse, harassment and abuse of power (Edgar 2007, P.72) Edgar (2007) cited research by Edgar and Martin (2004) in which he argued that blatant discrimination is relatively rare. He put forward that only 16 per cent of a certain prison said they had been subject to this kind of racism from a prison officer. Wilson and Moore (2003 cited in Scott and Codd 2010) identified the significance of blatant and direct racism in prison, and the use of violent control over young black male prisoners’. Wilson and Moore quoted some prisoners thoughts, For example
“I’ve been called a chimp before. I was also called golliwog by one of these officers. [But] I ended up getting in trouble for that, and I was put on adjudication”.
“One of the officers said to me, you’re a piece of shit....