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The Effects Of Gender On Prisoner Interactions

1490 words - 6 pages

In the past prisoners, both male and females, were simply treated as slaves of the state. Wardens had the freedom and discretion to maintain prisons as they wanted. This meant there was no outside interference. That definition for prisoners was derived in the case Ruffin v. Commonwealth (1871). The Supreme Court decided that forfeiting liberties and personal rights were consequences of the crime committed. Prisoners were viewed as slaves. In addition, losing citizenship rights meant losing the ability to complain about living conditions (Peak, 2010). Women and men were subjected to horrible prison conditions in which the living conditions were fifthly, overcrowded and harsh. Often times they were beaten and sexual abused by male guards (Stuart von Wormer & Bartollas, 2011). It was not until the 1960’s that there was a major philosophical change in the courts about prisoner rights (Peak, 2010). At this point, inmates “now retained all the rights of free citizens except those restrictions necessary for their orderly confinement or to provide safety in the prison community” (Peak, 2010, p. 261). Inmates do not completely lose constitutional protections and still have basic rights (Peak, 2010). The other side to this progression involves considering gender.
Even within prisons, gender has played a role. Acoording to Dostoevsky (1864) the treatment of offenders is very reflective of their treatment within society. Overtime there was movement into the creation of unisexual institutions for men and women. Administration of women’s prisons was under the guidance of female leadership. Cotemporary corrections has maintained many of the aspects female administrators had implemented in female prisons, including educational instruction, work release programs and vocational activities. In the same manner, women’s prisons continued to be a good testing ground for new penology. The reason is that females were considered to be good candidates for rehabilitation. The suggestion is that female offenders were viewed as less dangerous than male offenders. Overtime, gender has led to women being protected and punished. The earlier notion of women-centeredness of women’s prisons no longer exists. There is more emphasis on a criminal being a criminal. At the same time, males still suffer harsher penalties compared to females within the criminal justice system.
In prison, women are considered to be less violent than male inmate. This difference is not taken into account upon constructing prisons for female offenders. In fact, construction is based on the correctional model about men being violent. Each gender interacts within prisons differently as well. For instance, males form gangs within prisons. They act territorially and fight to maintain power. In addition, men are more likely to congregate by race. On the other hand, females look to form small families that are not racially specific. Women will fight due to jealousy. However,...

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