Main

April 27, 2007

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

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 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.

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.

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