The Inmate Subculture in United States Prisons: An Overview
The Subculture Phenomena within Prisons
To be able to discuss the issue of the inmate sub-cultures in prison I will first have to discuss what subcultures are and major reasons that they form. First of all the term subculture in general is kind of like a small culture within and not always accepted by members of a larger one known as a society. Societies as a whole are very large and contain many individuals within them, and let us face it it is human nature to group together or congregate with individuals that have similar interests. This causes the whole to split off into smaller groups and this process is how subcultures form; however, if you eliminate certain elements such as freedom of movement or safety from the equation you will accelerate and intensify the subculture process.
Subcultures in prison
Prisons exist in this country as a means to administer retributive justice for those that break the laws in our society or to state it simply prisons punish criminals that are to receive a sentence of incarceration for more than one year. There are two main sub-cultures within the walls of prison the sub-culture of the Department of Corrections (which consists of the corrections officer, administrators, and all of the staff that work at the prison and go home at the end of their day) and the actual prisoners themselves. As you can imagine these two sub-cultures are dualistic in nature and this makes for a very stressful environment for both sides of the fence. While in prison, the inmates experience the same conditions as described in the previous
paragraph only more intensified and there are several factors in a prison setting that would result in the creation and need for sub-cultures such as:
1. Fear this is probably the most important factor and is the result of a new inmate not knowing who to deal with or what to expect.
2. Isolation from the inmate’s friend and family support structure which results in a need for belonging.
3. Confinement and the loss of an inmate’s freedom are also among the leading causes for subcultures to develop in a prison setting.
4. Overcrowding with so many prisoners we are running out of room to house them all and some prisons have had to convert what was to have been two man rooms into four man rooms.
5. Stress is the resulting effect of all of the previous environmental factors within the prisons and is not exclusive to the inmates but is also a problem for the Department of Corrections personnel as well.
The inmates in prisons regardless of their age have adapted their own behavior norms, ideals, and their own social code or code of ethics therefore; the inmates have truly set themselves apart from the guards and society in general.
The Juvenile Inmate Social Code
The inmate social codes among juveniles are used to unite the inmates against the control of the facility staff that is trying to rehabilitate them and it serves a...