“What I Learned as a Kid in Jail” is a speech given at a TEDTalk convention to a group of young men and women delivered by Ismael Nazario, a prison reform advocate where he does work for The Fortune Society, a non profit organization. Nazario was arrested when he was just under eighteen for robbery and sent directly to Rikers Island where he spent 300 days in solitary confinement, before ever being convicted of the crime. Nazario’s goal in delivering his speech to a group of younger men and women is to make them aware of the way correctional officers treat younger inmates and how inmates should be spending their time doing productive activities and understanding they do not have to go back to the life they were living. Nazario accomplished this goal by sharing personal stories from his past experiences.
This week’s reading focused on prisons. The Society of Captives was written by Gresham M. Sykes in 1958. He conducted a study on a maximum security prison in New Jersey. Chapter 1 focused on the prison and its settings. The author goes into detail about the size of the cells and what the prison actually looks like. He also writes about how the prisoner is no longer seen as man but as a number. My Sunday school teacher visits prisons to teach about the bible. He has commented to me that is exactly how certain correction officers see the prisoners. They are nothing but a number to some individuals. This can lower their self-image (Sykes, 1958).
Before the 1820s, most prisons resembled classrooms where inmates lived in large rooms together like a dormitory. The newer prisons of the era, like New York’s Auburn Prison, shepherded men into individual cells at night and silent labor during the day, a model that would prove enduring. Women at Auburn, however, lived in a small attic room above
Conditions inside the prison were no better. For starters, many of the prisoners were those who had committed menial crimes. Worse so, many were war heroes, back from Vietnam who couldn’t find a job and thus had to go about other illegal means to stay alive, and thus were thrown in prison. Attica prison in particular was famous at the time among prisoners for having the most horrific treatment of their inmates. Guards did whatever they could both legally and illegally to keep their prisoners in perpetual fear and discomfort. The prisoners were not just treated like children, but as animals. The one thing prisoners treasure the most is their contact with the outside world. It keeps them sane and allows them to remain in some type of contact both with their families as well as with what is going on outside the prison walls. But, guards did whatever
The setting of the jail helps the audience to think about the reality of the horrible conditions of people who are incarcerated. They prisoners are treated like animals. They have filthy conditions and it similar to living in a barn. It is cold and dark and the bedding is straw. When Herrick enters, it says that he nudges a bundle of rags lying on a bench which implies that you cannot tell that there is even a person in the cell. The audience is aware of how these people suffered for no reason.
Most of us won’t really live for a minute behind the walls in order to be empathetic with the prisoners and that’s probably the reason we normally don’t feel a thing even if we read the inner life of the American prison (Gopnik, 2012). Adam Gopnik (2012) describes the life as “ not that of lock and key but that of the lock and clock.” Time frozen behind the walls and electronic securities with panic, paranoia and
After listening to and or reading the transcripts of Locked Down: Gangs in the Supermax by Michael Montgomery, one gets a glimpse of prison life, sociological issues inmates and staff face, and the subculture of prison life faced by staff and prisoners alike on a daily basis. However, instead of delving completely in to the situational circumstances of prisoner life, it is more important to understand the history of this Supermax prison and why it was constructed to begin with. Further, it is important to understand the philosophy of the need for the Secure Housing Unit, which is the most secure and isolated portion of Pelican Bay Prison.
After reading the book I have gained a new understanding of what inmates think about in prison. Working in an institution, I have a certain cynical attitude at times with inmates and their requests.
Hassine begins his narrative as he is entering prison but this time as an inmate. Prior to his incarceration, Hassine was an attorney (Hassine, 2011). Even then as an attorney, the high walls of prison intimated Hassine (Hassine, 2011). As Hassine was being processed into the system, he expressed how he systematically became hopeless from the very prison structure itself as well as because of the intimidation he felt by uniforms. Prisons of the past actually had a goal to aid individuals through rehabilitation by instilling new values in order to correct the wrongs that one may have committed during their lifetime but today this is no longer true. . Hassine draws colorful depictions of how dim and unfamiliar a prison can be in which instills fear in an individual soon as he or she
In America, everyone seems to have a different idea about what goes on behind the grey, dismal walls of prison. For many of us, the idea itself conjures images of coiled barbed wire fences, chains dragging across the ground, somber faces behind rusting bars and those bright orange jumpsuits. These visions come from a variety of sources-- movies we’ve seen, the stories that we’ve been told and our own imagination that is constantly at work. However, the reality of prison life in America can only come from those who have stepped foot inside. Through memoirs written by Danner Darcleight and Ted Conover, I’ve had to reconsider some of these previously held visions of prison life. While Conover writes about the abusive relationship between the correctional officers and the prisons, through Darcleight’s writing we see the rewarding powers of having social life and the hopeful possibility for anyone to attain redemption. The first chapter of Concrete Carnival, by Danner Darcleight, as well as Guarding Sing Sing by Ted Conover has led me to re-evaluate these previously held visions of prison life, including the relationship between guards and inmates, social systems, and redemption.
Foremost among them was a former prisoner who had served nearly seventeen years behind bars. This consultant made us aware of what it was like to be a prisoner. He also introduced us to a number of other ex-convicts and correctional personnel during an earlier Stanford summer school class we co-taught on "The Psychology of Imprisonment." Our prison was constructed by boarding up each end of a corridor in the basement of Stanford's Psychology Department building. That corridor was "The Yard" and was the only outside place where prisoners were allowed to walk, eat, or exercise, except to go to the toilet down the hallway (which prisoners did blindfolded so as not to know the way out of the prison). To create prison cells, we took the doors off some laboratory rooms and replaced them with specially made doors with steel bars and cell numbers.
The rusted metal door scrapped shut, followed by the jingle of keys in the lock. Footsteps of free people echoed throughout the dry air and bounced off the low ceilings, growing fainter as they moved toward the exit of this icy room. Another door slammed shut, screeching loud metallic echoes in my ears and scattering my brain. After a while, the only echoes, to be heard, were the quiet voices of private conversations and the rustle of paper, which melted together in a blissful orchestration. Florescent lights hum and buzz overhead; one blinked every so often as if it were about to die, much like my happiness had long ago. This description captures the true horror of imprisonment. A close examination will reveal
When we do research on daily prison life, we come across two typical but less than ideal situations: either social imaginaries cloud our judgment or information provided by the prisons themselves hide certain weak or bad aspects that they do not want to make public. We can also find information on TV, but most of the time it either exaggerates or minimizes the facts. In order to obtain more reliable information, we have to have access to people who are working or have worked in this institution, and such will be the sources of this essay. We will be describing and giving examples of prison violence according to three types of violence: sexual, physical and psychological violence.
When the average person thinks of jails and prisons, they typically think of horrible criminals being locked up in order to protect the rest of society. They think justice has been served, and those who did the crime are now doing the time. But what goes on inside a prison, and inside the minds of the inmates? What about after those offenders have served their time, and are now being released back into the general public? People don’t really think about how prison affects a person’s mentality, or how incarceration impacts both relationships the inmate currently has, or ones that will develop in the future. Although it isn’t something most people think of first, incarceration is an experience that can have a negative psychological impact on a person for quite some time.
Consequently, I believe my thought process not only started with law enforcement officers, but also ended there as well. There was not mention of what happened in prisons such as their conditions or even the social construction that occurs inside. There was no news cast or school discussion on the impact of America’s prison systems on the defiant individual. Therefore, their wellbeing was not my concern. I did not pay attention or care to notice the individual that was arrested once those cuffs were on. It was a symbolic condemnation of their guilt, and it was one that I believed should be displayed in an even more radical