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April 29, 2007

The other inmates?

It is true that correctional officers are in many ways, the "other inmates." They are cut off from the outside world for the eight to ten hours when they are on their shift, and during this time, they experience several of the pains of imprisonment. The safety and personal security of officers is always at risk when they are surrounded and outnumbered by convicted felons. Officers are also deprived of many common goods like magazines, books, and gum because they fall under the enormous of list of items considered contraband. Although these items seem harmless, the staples from magazines could be used as weapons and gum can be used to jam locks. In addition, officers have little autonomy or lack of privacy due to security cameras and strict prison regulations. But beyond the pains of imprisonment there are other reasons to call correctional officers the other inmates.
Like prisoners, officers are also part of a hierarchical social organization. While prisoners at the top may be thieves and those at the bottom, sex offenders, the warden is at the top of the prison administration and at the correctional officers are at the bottom. There is also a unique officer sub-culture with its own code of silence. An officer is never to take the side of an inmate or report the misconduct of a fellow officer. This is similar to the convict code, where prisoners are to keep their distance from officers and are forbidden to snitch. Moreover, working in the prison environment desensitizes officers to violence and hardens them. In the same way, prisoners must also maintain a tough exterior to protect themselves, and in the process are also desensitized. In order to survive inside the walls, officers must keep their guard up but never show it, while always being prepared to react. Prisons are institutions with unique cultures and social norms, and those inside their walls are shaped by them.
But there is one important aspect of being a correctional officer that makes it inaccurate to call them the other inmates. That is, at the end of their shift, no matter what, they get to leave the prison and go home for the other sixteen hours of the day. Reguardless of the time they spend experiencing the effects of inmate life, officers still have their liberty. They have the freedom to choose a career in law enforcement, earn a real living, and live their lives however they decide. Therefore, it is inappropriate to refer to correctional officers as the other inmates.
-Jenna Hernke-

April 27, 2007

Prison Guards as Inmates?

I would argue that prison guards are similar to prisons in many ways. Prison guards are forced to endure some of the some pains of imprisonment as the prisoners. First, prison guards lack autonomy in the prison. Their uniforms do not allow them to blend in to the prison atmosphere. Rather, they stand out against the prisoners and are easily identifiable from the rest of the prison population. Throughout their day, they can never be totally autonomous (as many others can in their jobs). Second, similar to the prisoners, the prison guards' personal security is almost always threatened. They can never totally relax at their jobs, just as the prisoners can never relax for fear of some attack. I would also argue that they suffer liberty deprivation on their jobs because while most people get lunch breaks and other small breaks throughout the day where they can leave the building, prison guards are at their post the entire day.

finally, the farm entry, K. Alex Finseth

K. Alex Finseth

I finally watched the farm after weeks of searching. The film was very interesting in seeing how different people view their incarceration. Some felt that once you’re in, you are done for, you’re not going to get out, your life is over and you serve no purpose, and then there those who feel that you cant give up once you’re locked up. Life has a greater meaning. These people were focused on either rehabilitation or seeking redemption from God.
The most interesting piece of this movie was Vincent Simmons parole hearing. He had spent a lot of his time in prison working on his case. He went through the court system to get information from the trial that put him there and he wasn’t getting any help. He claimed that the police investigating the rapes just wanted someone to pin the crime on, he claimed that he had official medical records from the trial stating that the two girls who were raped were still virgins. He had all this information that he gave to his parole board, and they didn’t bat an eye at it. Even after the trial it sounded like they were trying to convince themselves that he was guilty.
This reminds me of the mind set of the prisoners and their keepers. They are at a constant battle with no room for trusting on another. If I was in either position I wouldn’t trust anyone my self, but that’s what makes this whole system corrupt. I looked up Vincent Simmons to see if he had gotten out yet, the last thing I found was a site asking for help. He has been in prison for 28 years now, that means only 72 more to go.
I think that Vincent’s parole meeting went so bad because of the cameras and political agendas of the board. They wont loose sleep over an innocent black man being locked up in prison, they loose sleep over making radical decisions, and looking bad to the public.

The Other Prisoners

I believe that prison culture and experiences do make the correctional
officers the "other" inmate. They are a unique kind of prisoner,
however, with characteristics that come from being socialized in the
prison environment. Just as new prisoners, fish, get hazed into prison
life this also goes for the new guards, New Jacks, as well. They have
to earn the respect from their fellow peers. There is a hierarchy
within the staff from warden down to the officers. The inmates have
their hierarchy too from thieves to snitches.
The guards have to abide by a routine. They do their rounds and follow
orders from their superiors. Prisoners also have their routines and,
for the most part, they adhere to the rules. The correctional officers
spend a lot of time just sitting around and passing the time until they
can go home. Obviously the inmates sit around as well and do their
time. Everyone smells the same smells and sweats in the heat.
Sometimes the COs acquire nicknames just as prisoners do.
While the inmates have their convict code, the COs have their prisoner
officer code. They maintain non familiarity, a code of silence and
loyalty. Over time, the guard can easily become more aggressive and
authoritative as portrayed in "New Jack" and in the film. This can
easily carry over into their personal life and even into how they raise
their children. Prisoners can become more aggressive the longer they
are in the system also. Being exposed to violence and the tension
within the walls eventually gets into one's soul. The correctional
officers choose their lifestyle just as inmates had chosen paths of
crime. These similarities cause me to believe that the prison guard is
the other prisoner.
-Holly Sprenger

April 26, 2007

Prison officers - the other inmate?

While there are many similar experiences that inmates and prison officers face, I wouldn’t go so far as to label the officers the “other inmate?. I am not denying that there is a prison officer code, a code that is very similar to the convict code. Indeed both prisoners and officers have very distinct subcultures. Many aspects of the cultures are similar because officers are influenced by inmates and vice versa. But if we are going to label a prison officer as the “other inmate? then why not call a cashier at a store the “other customer?? I’m not trying to equate prison officers to cahiers or anything, but just to show that because two groups are functioning in the same environment does not mean that they have the same experiences.
The most important thing that distinguishes a prisoner from other members of society is that inmates are being contained, against their will, for twenty-four hours a day, every day. Prisoners are completely immersed in their subculture all of the time. On the contrary, prison officers have to live two different lives, one in the prison and one outside of the prison. Many officers in the films we viewed as well as Ted Conover in New Jack testified to how hard this was on a person. Imagine then, how hard it must be for the inmates, when they get out of prison. They may not even remember the identity they once had when they were free.

Guards as other inmates?

To make my point succinctly, I do believe that the guards are the other inmates in prison. The guards have to endure the same atmosphere that people are warehoused in. The inmates pejoratively affect the day to day grind. This is a thankless job with great suffering for little pay. There day will consist of routines following the routines of the inmates. Yes, the guards do get paid and they do get to leave but they are as much apart of the prison sub culture as the inmates. If they are a crooked guard, the inmates lean on them for good or special treatmen. if they are a guard doing their job the best they can they are subject to the volitile nature of the inmates. The amount of mental and physical stress that a guard goes through is inconceivable.

Guards: The Other Inmates?

While I believe that guards' lives in some ways resemble inmates' lives, it is incorrect to make the claim that guards are the "other inmates."
While guards spend much of their week in a prison, surrounded by some of the worse people on Earth, they do not spend twenty four hours confined, with someone watching them consistently. When they are done with their eight or ten hour shift, they are exactly that: DONE. They get to walk out of the prison and head back into society for the remainder of the day. They get to smell all of freedoms' joys. They get to go home to their spouses, play with their children, have a beer, and grill in the yard. Prisoners in no way have nearly this much freedom. Freedom to a prisoner is the time spent playing basketball out on some of the crappiest courts in America.
Within the prison, guards have it much better as well. They are not confined to a cell, rather they are confined a whole cell block. They get breaks where they can go sit down away from the inmates. They are not required to eat the same slop over and over again. Instead they can bring their own food in, or leave and get food if they would like.
Overall, the guards have it much better than prisoners, and are in no way "the other inmates." Prisoners are forced to live in this life twenty four hours a day. Guards are required to work their shift and go home. Lastly, if the guards can't handle the pressures of prison life, they always have the option to quit.

The Other Inmates

Having watched "The Other Inmates" it makes me understand how the Prison Officer may view himself as an inmate as well. We need to examine how a Prison Officer conducts his activities, and what his expectations are within the prison. They are expected to be in a specific uniform, follow stringent rules, be on a certain schedule, and other structured items. This is eerily similar to what an inmate is expected to do. We can see how this can be then viewed as being the same as an inmate.

In addition to this, we need to evaluate the Prisoners code and the Prison Officers code. Both have very similar rules/restrictions. Don't snitch, don't get close to inmates/guards, etc. These are in place to help with the harships encountered in the Prison environment.

Prison Officers also feel like they are "Doing Time" when the come to work. They are only in for 8-12 hours versus 10-20 years, but it is still the same type of feeling. They are basically "locked up" when they are at work, with little to no contact to the outside world.

The film was very educational and informative in the life of a Prison Officer and what they deal with on a daily basis.

The Other Inmates

Considering the conditions of their working place, I understand the reasoning behind calling prison officers "the other inmates". They are surrounded by hundred of conivicts, many of whom are dangerous, and have nothing but a baton to use as a weapon. The stress of this situation must be great, but the fact remains that these prison officers can leave anytime they want while the prisoners do not have this option.

What it boils down to is choice. It used to be that working as a prison officer was one of the highest paying jobs one could hope for without any secondary education. Many went into the profession because it was the best way to privide for their families. While the job was dangerous, the officer and his/her dependents relied on this money so just up and quitting was not that easy. In recent years there have been more requrements put into place to become a prison officer. Now having a college degree (a mimimum of an Associates) is necessary in many regions. Now one does not just fall into prison work, but directly chooses to pursue it. I would not call them an "inmate" while they are at work more than any other occupation, regardless of what the job entails.

There are other similaities between the inmates and the officers, for example both have "codes" that stress loyalty to one another, but codes of this sort are common at many workplaces. A major similarity that the video did not point out is that both inmates and officers get bored a lot. While the job is often stressful, the large amounts of downtime does not exactly lend itself to the image of a 24/7 chaotic environment. Despite similarities between the two groups, I think the analogy is too extreme to be of much use.

guards called inmates

I completely agree with the comments about guards, or "correctional officers", being the other inmates. I do believe that the guards have freedom and rights that the prisoners do not have, however, there are similarities of the guards and inmates. These guards, on a daily basis, have to pretend and hide from their fear of the inmates. At any time the inmates can overpower the guards and take them down. In a way, the guards are secretly the inmates and the inmates are the guards. Although the guards watch over the inmates daily, the guards have to work together in order to hold the order in the prisons. As soon as the guards stop working together, the inmates may start taking over. The convict code and the code of the guards both need to be followed in order for both sides to stand up for themselves and the guards need to hold the order. Fear never can be a question in the guards' eyes and they have to be the ones that can be thankful they are the ones that can go home to their families at night and not be labeled as "the other inmates."

The "Other inmate"

After watching “the other inmates?, it is safe to say that Prison Officers are like those of inmates who lives in a prison. The reason why I say this is because veteran Prison Officers spent most of their career inside a prison just like inmates. Prison Officers and inmates are similar in couple of things.

For example, Prison Officers and inmates have their own “codes? inside a prison. These are called “Prison Officer Code? and “Convict Code“. These codes shared some of the similar type of things, like don’t snitch, don’t talk to Officers or inmates, social distance, and etc.

Prison Officers and inmates learned behavioral things within their group. For example, inmates learned things from other inmates during their times there. What I meant by this is that inmates learned techniques to become a better criminals like stealing a car and or how to burglarize a house.

For Prison Officers, they learned how to treat inmates through other Prison Officers. Prison Officers also takes on a role of law enforcement through their daily experiences, assignments, policy and manual.

Prison is violent and foreign world for both of Prison Officers and inmates. Violent comes in the form of assaults inside a prison (both of Officers and inmates will soon or late be assaulted).

There are course things that are different between Officers and inmates. Freedom is the most important. Officers have more freedom where they could go home to a “normal? life in society after their shifts. Inmates are restricted to do things that they are entitled to like time in a cell and daily workouts.

In summary, I believed that Officers and inmates are both “inmates? within a prison. Officers and inmates have their daily routines and are vulnerable to assaults while they are there inside a prison. Officers and inmates have their own codes about what to do or not to do between the two groups. But there are things that are different between Officers and inmates. Officers could get away from the prison after their shifts and live a “normal life? where inmates are restricted from staying inside the prison’s wall. Other than that, Officers and inmates are like “inmates within inmates? inside a prison.

The Other Inmates?

Whether it is accurate to refer to prison guards as the other inmates is the question. For the most part everyone can agree that the job of a guard is not the most glamorous that there is. But as we saw in the film they are a close nit group of their own, they look out for each other and ensure each others safety. We could perceive this as just another gang amongst the many gangs that we find in prisons. In short I would be more than willing to say that yes perhaps officers are the other inmates. As stated in the film they may actually only be their for eight hours while the actual inmates are their for twenty four hours. As guards they have to also deal with the reality of the prison. In all this these men have to remain calm and not show their weakness. The rules of prison life may not totally apply to them but there are certain rules that they will still follow. They can never show fear, they can not be known as the one who talks too much. This is what is called the Prison Officers Code, just like the prisoners the officers are also bound by this code and this is something that has the guards feeling like the other inmate.

By Julius Eromosele

The Other Inmates?

There are many commonalities between the daily experiences of prison officers and prisoners; however, there is one major difference that disallows me from calling prison officers “the other inmates.? The major difference is that prison officers have the choice to quit their jobs and do something else while the prisoners truly are confined to the prison 24 hours a day.
While I will not call prison officers “the other inmates? I do feel that the experiences prison officers and prisoners go through are sometimes similar. First, for prisoners there is a definite prison hierarchy that is established over time. Prison officers themselves are also forced into a well established hierarchy of officers. For example, senior officers are to be respected and their directives are to be complied with even if they go against written prison rule. “Newjacks? are forced to find a delicate balance between enforcing what they are taught at the academy and figuring out the unwritten rules that have developed over time.
Second, while prison officers may not be physically isolated for 24 hours a day they are definitely emotionally isolated. They are emotionally isolated from friends and family that do not understand what they go through in the prison or what they see. Their experiences are often times solitary burdens because they do not want to put any of their grief or stress on their spouses or children. To some prison officers the inside of the prison world should remain there, which also means that the stress remains bottled up inside. As Conover states in Newjack to his wife, “’You have no idea what this is like.’ How dare she complain when I’m working so hard to hold myself together, to maintain a calm exterior?? (p. 247)
Third, both prison officers and prisoners have to be thinking about “watching their backs.? Rival gang members have to worry about who might be out to get them next and when. Prison officers have to worry about how their actions will affect the prisoners’ feelings towards them and whether physical violence will ensue. Physical violence is not the only fear prison officers and prisoners share. They also share the threat of infectious diseases. As was mentioned in the video, by pouring contaminated blood into officers’ drinks HIV could be passed along unknowingly.
Last, both prison officers and prisoners have made choices that have put them in the prison situation. The prisoners have made choices to commit crimes; the prison officers have made the choice to obtain employment in the prison. While choices are what have brought them both to prison, prison officers have at least one more choice to make than the prisoners: they can quit their jobs and be done with prison when they wish. Prisoners obviously do not have such a choice. It is for this reason that prison officers should not be labeled “the other inmates.?

guards as the other inmate

I agree that prison guards could be looked at as “the other inmate?. As most everyone else has stated who takes this stance, there are striking similarities between the convict code that prisoners follow and the code of silence of prison guards. In both codes a social distance is supposed to be maintained between “them? and “us?, otherwise you compromise your legitimacy in your respective group. According to the Newjack book, guards during their training are preached this mentality of us and them. There is also the rule that you don’t snitch on one another, guards and inmates a like. This goes along with the allegiance you have to your own group. Acting as a witness for an inmate when you are a guard, or telling on a fellow convict as an inmate will distance you and create danger for you among your own unit.
I also thought how the culture of prison impacts these two groups of people were similar. We discussed in class how the prison culture facilitates aggressive and dangerous characteristics and has the ability to transform an individual when they are trapped by its walls. I believe that both groups create the mentality that the other group is disposable. Inmates attack guards because they hardly receive more repercussions than they are already serving as well as the idea that they are being kept in prison by the guards, and guards beat up and dehumanize inmates because they view them as throwaway members of society. I’m not saying that all inmates or guards are like this, but I think there is a possibility for these attitudes to be widespread.
I also think the socialization of the groups is similar, which can be seen through the divisions that are created within the groups. There are hierarchies in both groups with new prisoners and guards having to work to learn the system and their role within the system, and the older, experienced inmates and guards who know their role and the techniques that will benefit them. There are also statuses within the two groups, where a certain guard job is more respected and safe compared to the duty of a Newjack who is given a dangerous and highly dense inmate assignment. Within the inmate groups there may be gangs with more power than another, or individuals that are seen as lower on the chain, like the queens.

Johanna Zabawa

Guards: The “Other? Inmates?

Both the movie and the Newjack book demonstrated the many dangers and unpleasant aspects of working with inmates. However, the differences between guards and inmates are too numerous to be really comparable. When considering the convict code and the code of silence, there are definite similarities: don’t snitch/whisteblow, don’t get too comfy with the opposing group, and the hierarchy of status. But, even though the literal rules might be similar, the details are not. For example, with the hierarchy, it changes for guards; after a while they’re not new “fish?, but a convicted child molester doesn‘t just stop being a convicted child molester. The prison hierarchy is very hard to change. And, with the snitching/whistle blowing, the difference between the cons and the guards is the consequence. If a guard tells on someone, they might have to deal with some hostility from other guards, but they’re not going to get stabbed to death like a prisoner could. The other main similarity between guards and cons is the place in which they work: the prison. But with guards, they only have to do their 40 hours a week, they get paid, and they get to go home after their shift and do all kinds of things prisoners can’t do.. The prisoners, on the other hand, don’t get to leave until their time is up, enjoy outside things, or get paid to be there. It doesn’t surprise me that prison guards don’t enjoy their jobs and feel locked up when they go there; so do most people that have full time jobs, especially ones that have been doing the same thing for years and years. An office job can feel just as confining if you really don‘t like it, the main difference is the level of safety. Working as a prison guard is a dangerous, thankless job. It has many risks of physical violence and emotional stress, but I would think that would be obvious to most people deciding to work in close confines with many convicted criminals. There are certain similarities between guards and prisoners; some rules, their physical environment. But for guards it is just a job, maybe one that they don’t like very much. They make the decision to work there, and they get to leave when the day is done. For convicts, however, prison is their life, not something they do to pay the bills.

The Other Inmates?

I think there is a strong argument that corrections officers could be considered "the other inmates" in the prisons they work in. When these officers go to work every day, they are immediately submersed in the prison sub-culture, particularly in regards to daily routines of the inmates. Corrections officers are there to supervise the daily activities and ensure routine, non-violent traffic from one place to the next. Because of such duties, officers inherently follow (and to some extent, participate in) the daily activities of the inmates. In this sense officers somewhat live the lives of the prisoners, atleast for the 8 or so hours a day that they are there. Furthermore, consider the culture of corrections officers and the "code of conduct." Just like prisoners, corrections officers develop a code of conduct that regulates who they talk to, how they talk to them, how they handle situations, and many other aspects of the job. There are the tenured officers that run the show and the "newjacks" that quickly learn their standing and must earn their keep. There is also a code of silence as with prisoners that helps keep misconduct under-wraps ("don't snitch"). Furthermore, when the corrections officers leave work for the day I don't think that they leave the job behind at the prison. Consider the mannerisms and attitudes they develop from the daily ins and outs of the job, this authoritarian personality is certainly something that can transcend into their daily lives outside of work. When you work in a place where the culture is so distinct such as a prison, it is hard to imagine that the corrections officers there are able to simply turn that off like a switch, and thus claiming corrections officers are "the other inmates" is in fact very true.

April 25, 2007

Guards as other inmates...

I feel that prison guards resemble inmates in many ways. Many aspects of the inmate code translate into prison guard code such as language, hierarchical organization, mindset, and overall sub-culture.
Many aspects of the "Convict Code" translate to the "Code of Silence". For example, the convict code consists of many different social types existing within a status hierarchy such as the rapists on top and the snitches (or in the code of silence "whistle blowers") on the bottom, which can be translated to the warden on top and "newjacks" on the bottom.
Just like the image of the inmates, officers face a certain image often being labeled the victim by constantly being attacked and being exposed to diseases such as aids.
"Newjack" did a good job of painting a picture of prison guard culture. Much of it had a lot to do with what we spoke about in class about the prison officer code. "Non-familiarity" among prison guards and inmates relates to one of the inmate codes of not getting close to officers. Both groups look for social acceptance amongst one another (guards have each others backs and inmates have each others backs). This can relate to Durkheims mechanical solidarity. Each group must rely on each other and keep in close contact with each other for survival.
Another important similarity between guards and inmates is how they are distinguished by their peers. Because of the organizational structure among prison staff, officers are constantly being attacked by their bosses and at times are even ignored when certain issues come up. Officers owe a certain amount of respect to seniority, often being labeled as the "lower class" of prison staff. Similarly, inmates at the bottom (snitches) are also constantly attacked by their peers, which who they also owe a certain amount of respect because of their position in the hierarchy.

Not the Other Inmates

While I can see the reasoning in calling prison officers the "other inmates" I think to do so undermines the work they do and mislabels them. To call officers inmates is saying that they are just a part of the general prsion population, while what they do is very important. It is true that they spend a huge amount of time inside prison walls and that they most likely identify with prison culture, but that does not make them inmates. I think calling prison officers the other inmates also takes away from what it means to be incarcerated. I hardly think that spending eight hours a day in a prison (not a cell) is equivalent from spending maybe your whole like behind bars, having to ask permission for everything and having your every move controlled. We cannot underestimate the importance of liberty and what it does to us as humans. At the end of the day, prison officers, unlike inmates, walk outside the gates and go about their business and their lives, while the inmates' lives are on hold.

Prison Officers

I’m not sure that I agree with the argument that prison officers should be called the “other prisoner.? My reasons for this belief is that it seems to contradict Durkheim’s theory about the “us and them? mentality, that society should hold about prisoners. If prison officers were considered to be prisoners as well, then there would not be a difference between the prisoner and the officer. One of the reasons that the prisoner is locked up is because he or she has committed a crime, but what crime has the prison officer committed?
An important part in Durkheim’s theory was the “Collective Conscience,? which states that all members of society share the same beliefs and values. When a member of society brakes the rules by committing a crime they, in essence, commit a crime against society. They are incarcerated because they did not hold the same values and beliefs as society, but the prison officer is enforcing the values and beliefs that are held by the society.
I do think that it must be hard for the prison officer to work in the environment that they do, but the prison officer if not completely separated from society. The prisoner is separated from society because they have violated the values and beliefs of society. However, the prison officer does not need to be separated from society, because they have done nothing wrong. At the end of the prison officer’s shift they are able to reintegrate back into society, they have families and friends outside the prison walls.

The Other Inmates?

After seeing the video, and reading Newjack, I can see why some people say that prison guards are like inmates. There are obvious differences, such as freedom and power, however, I think in actual experience, it is true that thier situations are similar. Like the prisoners, the prison guards have their own code they are expected to follow. This isn't a written code, but like the prisoners' code, there are pressures and consequences that enforce it. For example, in order to expect help from a guard in the future, a guard will have to either help out another guard in a situation, or not tell on a guard for something that didn't follow official policy. Like prisoners, guards will not always follow all the rules, but according to the code, no one will find out.
Another way in which prison guards are like prisoners is the fact that they have to go and be inside the prison walls for their entire work day. They are working with people they probably don't want to be around, just like the prisoners don't want to be around the guards. Also, the guards are at risk of physical danger, just like the prisoners. So in these terms, it is clear that a guard's work experience inside the walls of a prison are similar to that of the prisoner's.
Obviously the guards choose to be there, and they get paid to be there, but the work conditions are the same as the inmate conditions, and how both groups deal with that is similar.

The Other Inmate?

Prison officers in America today are part of a prison system that is expanding like no other public sector in the country. More money is being spent on this system than higher education in many states, and several new industries from everything construction and architectural companies to the small businesses that produces Styrofoam food trays have grown in proportion to this systems ever increasing demands. All sorts of negative connotations can be credited to this growth. Some critics claim it to be singling out inner city minority people who have grown up in a place where dealing dope and joining a gang seemed to be a viable alternative to the lack of other more healthy options. 80 % of inmates in many prisons are African American, and most new prisons being built today are built in rural America to feed job hungry people with little or no understanding of the inner city backgrounds that a lot inmates today share. Ted Conovers book "Newjack" mentions the differences between those cultures in that inmates were "taken care of" if they tried to cause trouble, and inmates "respected" officers there and called the officers "sir". This to me speaks of a prison culture based on fear of overwhelming retaliation by officers when antagonized by inmates. To a certain degree is it impossible that officers don't get influenced or even socialized by the very place they spend years to uphold order and security. It's like any other company where the business culture finally gets to you.

Now, all of this might seem like me trying to demonize the system and its prison officers. This is not my intention. I understand the enormous amount of stress and fear officers sometimes must feel, especially when you're a newjack like Conover. I'll try to give you some examples of why officers maybe affected by their surroundings. For example, the fact that you at all times have to watch your back to some day be able to escape an attack, hostage situation, being shitted down or catching a contagious disease such as TB, HIV and AIDS will make the most healthy (mentally) and strongest man or woman a little bit paranoid. The fact that you as a adult have to tend to grown men like they were your kids is seen as demeaning to inmates, but will penetrate your mind as something associated with disgust and contempt. When you read Conovers book you certainly get the feeling that most officers feel bothered with this part of the job, and that they don't like to do more than what the minimum of what the officer’s manual specifies. Communication and the amount of information shared between officers was lacking, especially the reasoning for orders came out as ambiguous when handed down the prison hierarchy in Conovers book. Also, inmates are often seen as people without any self-control, and they are already the outcasts of society. Prisons such as Sing Sing for example are dark, dirt, humid and filled with roaches and I think anyone working in such an environment eventually will be affected. All of this invokes the us versus them sentiment in many officers, and the feeling of the everyday battle between the good guys and the bad guys.

But the world is never black and white. Like officer's uniforms the world is mostly gray where the human psyche is susceptible to the influences of an environment where impressions are made up of the faults and weaknesses of mankind. Working with felons is bound to leave some sort of impression, especially when we know that officer use of excessive force take place within prisons, where many officers turn to alcoholism, where many marriages are broken and where the job of discipline and order often is taken back home and unintentionally exercised on kids. Conover was only eight months on the job, and he too experienced how this affected him. He also mentioned how some officers who went bad was caught bringing contraband into the prison, and the prison guard video we saw of officers betting on inmates fighting to the death provides evidence of the utter contempt for human life and can be seen as the most extreme example of how bad it can get. Also, prison officers honor the code of silence as a means of surviving the job relying on other officers to cover your back when the time comes. I think it's sad that officers feel they have to sweep issues under the rug and that "snitching" is seen as something dishonorable rather than something that might keep prisons safe from the few good guys that actually turn bad.

With all this in mind I still don't think it is fair to call prison officers the other inmate. Of course, by definition they're not inmates, but the time they spend inside the prison sometimes supersedes the time a lot of inmates spend on the inside. It seems as if most prison officers are men and women who are seeking financial security in a system that provides (sometimes) a decent pay and good benefits. There will always be bad seeds among the bunch however, with people seeking the thrill of kicking convict ass as soon as they get the chance. Also, it can be argued that prison officers have a world view that coincides with the tough-on-crime crowd and that people in general is always to be held accountable for their actions and therefore deserve the hell that some prisons are. But it isn't fair to blame the officers.

The system itself need to change. Inmate Larson in Conovers book made an argument against the DOCS plans of creating new prisons for the next ten to fifteen years and that these plans therefore included today’s children. He was upset because he saw it as the system giving up on these kids. He felt that the money spent on corrections should be spent on education and neighborhoods where kids see a lofe of crime as a better career choice. I agree to a certain extent, but I also think that the system of corrections should live up to its name and start correcting inmates. The tax money going into the system is certainly not going to inmate educational and vocational programs and drug rehabilitation programs. Prison officers should be able to take a part in such programs, and training should be longer and more intensive. Six weeks is not nearly enough when we know that police officers have six months (Norway, where I'm from, officers go through college with three years of training) of training and rarely have contact with felons. Inmates should be given a more incentive to behave and not attack officers, and I think indeterminate sentencing might be a good tool to revive from the correctional institution. It might a good way to work the soul of the inmates as well as the body, I believe it will create a safer prison environment for prison officers and inmates and that it will lower recidivism rates as well.

April 24, 2007

Officer Post

The question was: Is it accurate to call prison officers the “other inmates?? My answer to this is that they are and they are not. In the technical term of inmate, a prison officer is the exact opposite of an inmate. They are the men and women who watch over inmates, keeping them inline, disciplined, and compliant. In another sense of the term ‘inmate’, an officer is an inmate, as they are locked up in the same exact environment as the inmates and have to deal with nearly everything that inmates have to deal with. So the idea of the “other inmate? is quite accurately applied to prison officers. As the “other inmate? they are different from the inmates but are trapped in the same world as the inmates.
Their experiences are shared with the inmates. In a way when they escort and discipline inmates, they are being escorted and disciplined (like the old proverb of the dog walking the man). The inmate culture is mirrored by the officer culture. Both include codes of silence, loyalty, solidarity and a type of professionalism. The alienation that groups of prisoners press upon other groups is the same as with officers. “Newjacks? or “fish? are the same with prisoners as with officers. You must earn your way in prison. The means of earning status in prison is much the same for both inmates and officers. The “masculine honor? code is where an individual must show himself tough, self-controlled, self-disciplined, and dominant, in order to earn respect. Thus both the prisoner and the officer must prove to his peers that he/she is worthy. In this way, both systems reproduce themselves and propagate throughout generations of prisoners and officers. The systems of prisoner existence and officer existence are symbiotic. One cannot exist without the other and thus are tied together in existence.
In another sense, the experience of prison life affects both the inmate and the officer. Brutalization affects the one applying the brutality and the one receiving the brutality. Both become beasts, with the only difference being dominance. A culture is built upon this for both sides. The prisoner culture in theory is opposed to the officer culture and shapes itself on being “us versus them.? This is what it seems on the surface, but in reality there is much movement between the two cultures, again creating an almost symbiotic relationship between the cultures. When the officers press upon a certain aspect of the prisoner culture, the prisoner culture reacts and presses back upon the officer culture.
When an outside individual comes into either system they are socialized into it. When a “newjack? enters the prison society of officers, they are treated with disdain but are coached so that they may one day become full members of the officer culture. The same holds for new prisoners. “Fish? will be forced to fight and struggle in order to find a position in the prison. Gang member are initiated in much the same way in the prison as they are on the outside.
The authoritarian personality and natural aggressiveness of both prisoners and officers is exposed in the prison setting. Prisoners are aggressive with other prisoners and with officers because they are attacked by both in exchange. The same goes for officers. They are aggressive with prisoners because prisoners are aggressive with them. It is a cycle where both members take both roles of aggressor and victim.
An interesting example of this system of aggression in a controlled setting was Phillip Zambardo’s experiment at Stanford University in 1971. Students were placed randomly in either the prisoner group or officer group and then put in a setting similar to a prison. What happened was both groups reached mutual aggression and animosity towards each other. One-third of officers were judged to have exhibited “genuine? sadistic tendencies, while many prisoners were emotionally traumatized and two had to be removed from the experiment early.
Thus it can be seen that prisoners and officers are brutalized and demoralized by the prison setting and both can be seen as serving sentences as inmates.
-Nathan Sokolowski

Guards the other inmates

I don't agree with the suggestion that prison guards are the other prisoners.There are several reasons why I don't believe this.First, in a prisoner/guard relationship there is definetly a power difference, mainly,the guard has all the power,while the prisoner has none. To not have any power or control over your life surely has to be frustrating.For the prisoner, It is just one more of the pains of imprisonment that he has to deal with .However, the guard does not have to deal with this issue.Second, if we analyze the relative deprivation theory we begin to see a lot more differences between the guard and prisoner. First, a prisoner has been totally deprived of his liberty, and even though a guard spends a majority of their time inside the walls they are allowed to leave at night and on the weekends. Furthermore, if a guard wanted to they could just quit and leave. Obviously, this is not the case for the prisoner who is deprived of his liberty and has no choices. Second, as far as autonomy is concerned ,the guard can always go home, or go to his office ,or someplace else inside the prison to achieve some privacy. The inmate doesn't have this choice.Third, the guard still has the ways and means to acquire goods and services. We could argue that some prisoners do as well , but it is through illegal means which adds an element of risk and punishment if found out. However, this is absent in a guards life.Fourth, a guard can have heterosexual relationships in the outside world. Obviously, we know that this is not the case with prisoners, which no doubt contributes to increased aggression and tension behind the prison walls.
There are some similarities between the guard and prisoner Both are exposed to violence at any time which would be very stressful to deal with on a daily basis.However, let's not forget that the guard can always go home or quit their job, the prisoner on the other hand has nowhere to go.There are a couple of disadvantages that the guards have that inmate doesn't have.First, the guard is exposed to negative and obscene behavior by a multiplicity of inmates. Some inmates throw feces at guards, others psychologically abuse them,and still others physically abuse them . The consequences of being exposed to this type of environment are clearly shown by Oconner in his book. When his child is misbehaving and not following orders, he disciplines the child as he would a prisoner. The distinction between disciplining a child and prisoner is lost, because he has learned on a daily basis that he is the bearer of power and the enforcer of discipline and punishment.He knows only one way, the way that he learns everyday at work.

April 23, 2007

Prison guards as other inmates

It was interesting to see how the prison guards worked in such an enviorment that causes so much mental anguish. I believe that what the prison guards or "correctional officers" go through do make them the other inmate. The stress that they deal with on a day to day basis bring so many problems not only to them but to family members at home. They have to be ready at all times because they don't know when they will get attacked. They are constantly exposed to any weapon that an inmate might use against them the one I thougth was the worse was the poop on a stick, also the threat of being "gas" with any bodily fluid. They are constantlly understaffed and with this poses a direct threat the well being of the prison guards. The idea of getting stabbed or hurt in anyway shows us that these prison guards go through just what the inmates are, they have to deal with the same bs that every inmate has to go through. The only difference is that they get paid to be there and get to go home every night. They are apart of the prison community just as the inmate, they are the other inmates. They could be considered just another gang in the prison system, with codes rules, and a process to get into the gang.
Jake Lizakowski

April 20, 2007

Prison Officers K. Alex Finseth

K. Alex Finseth
Prison Officers

The life of a prison officer is quiet a situation. You go to prison every day, you face all the dangers and boredoms the inmates face, it could just as well be seen as punishment, and your doing it voluntarily as a functioning member of society. What possesses a person to do that? They are the other prisoners.
Prison officers are locked in a building with inmates who see them as the enemy. The inmates do things like “gas? the officers. That where they take their blood urine or feces and throw it in the face of the guard. What would make an inmate do that? It isn’t going to help them escape, make their time shorter or benefit them in the slightest, but it can ruin an officer’s life, senseless violence.
The typical prison officer is a lower class working man with a rural background and has little education. They could have just as well found a way to make money committing crime. Why didn’t they?
Why am I not answering the question, yes guards are the other inmates. They have parallel societies with the inmates. The guards suffer deprivation and create a structure to make it through every day. The structure fallows many of the same rules as the convict’s code. They don’t associate with prisoners, they don’t snitch on each other. The mind set is very much us verses them, social solidarity.
Not only are they always at conflict with their prisoner, a nature of the job, they also form groups within their guard status. Conflict can come from race, sex, assignment, guarding styles, and weather they have worked as a guard for a short

April 12, 2007

Group Work

Mitch Kuhlman
Wale Adebayo
Julius Eromosele
Kelli Ackerman
Jason Savage
Ashley Farnum
Kim Oster


Most of the inmates would be comprised of lower class individuals. This perpetuates a cycle that keeps the lower class incarcerated. The bourgeoisie holds the lower class down because it’s a class struggle.

“In terms of human misery, this system could hardly have been worse. The convict now found himself laboring for the profits of three separate parties; the sublessee, the lessee, and the state?

Alienation of the inmate – no control over their lives / outcome. These inmates are seen as workers / laborers not humans capable of rehabilitation or conformity.

April 5, 2007

Addition to Deteriminate vs. Indeterminate sentencing

For the most part, I would agree with Jon's critique on determinate vs Indeterminate sentencing.

Prisioners have to want to be reformed for any prison programs to work successfully. Therefore, that is why I agree with the basic idea behind "good time" sentencing. The criminal justice system should allow judges to issue a specific determinate sentence to a convicted person, say for example 10 years for armed robbery. In addition to that, the prisoner would have the ability to receive up to 10% of the convicted time erased if he or she participates in the prison sactioned programs. This way, if the prisoner does not want to be reformed, let him/her sit in their cell for the full 10 years. If they want the chance to get out early, they will have to work for it. "Working for it" could include vocational training and work that in turn would actually make each prison the money needed to operate, or at least alleviate some of the financial woes within the prison system.

The reason I would say 10% of time erased is because the criminal did do the crime, and therefore, should do the time. We don't want to see criminals released after serving only a few years on a decade sentence. Make them do the majority of the time and allow them the ability to make something of themselves before they are released. That way, from a functionalist viewpoint, the prison systems will serve as functioning "correctional" facilities that they have been deemed as in the past.