Can words change person’s thoughts from desperation, violence, to peace and normality within a dehumanizing prison? Some prisoners spending short to long term sentenced, sometimes lose themselves in a world of violence and become worse off when coming into the prison system, than how they used to be before prison life. Trying to hold on to any bit of sanity or respect for humanity becomes an everyday struggle. Sometimes the smallest thing can help prevent the feeling, of going over that edge of no return from a dreadfulness act of death.
The ethical treatment of prisoners is a surprisingly contentious topic, considering how much is known about the conditions and contexts in which human beings function optimally, both physically and mentally. However, ethical discussions frequently have very little to do with what best allows human beings to thrive and function, but instead concern themselves with formulating rules and standards of acceptable behavior, usually out of the mistaken belief that these rules or standards represent some kind of objective, universal ethics. A problem arises when dealing with prisoners, because in many people's minds, the crime or offense of which a prisoner is accused warrants the denial of a certain subset of their rights, but there is not universal acceptance of which rights may be denied and to what extent, due to a disconnect between different modes of ethical thought. Believing in objective, universal ethical standards actually means that anything is justifiable; because these imagined objective standards do not actually exist, people are free to imagine them however they see fit. More utilitarian ethics rooted in conceptions of the social contract are far more useful for determining social policy, because they do not purport to represent objective ethical standards; rather, they acknowledge that ethics and morality are socially constructed, and as such they seek to rationally determine the best practices for achieving any particular goal. By examining two especially
This paper explores the topic of mental health within prisons and how it affects the inmates. The report of my findings were through research of twelve articles, two credible website sources, and a published textbook.
Whenever you imagine prison, you think up ideas and violent images that you have seen in the movies or on TV. Outdated clichés consisting of men eating stale bread and drinking dirty water are only a small fraction of the number of horrible, yet “just” occurrences which are stereotypical of everyday life in prison. Perhaps it could be a combination of your upbringing, horrific ideas about the punishment which our nation inflicts on those who violate its’ more serious laws that keeps people frightened just enough to lead a law-abiding life. Despite it’s success in keeping dangerous offenders off the streets, the American prison system fails in fulfilling its original design of restoring criminals to being productive members of society, it is also extremely expensive and wastes our precious tax dollars.
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 my experience of reading the text, Behind a Convicts Eyes, I have learned many things about prison life. It has in fact changed my perception of what I thought prison life was like. Prison is in fact a fight for survival, and the weaker inmates will be used and abused by the stronger population. To clarify what I mean, many of the weaker prisoners are sometimes expected to pay for protection from other inmates, or they join prison gangs to be safe. According to the text, it would appear that the inmates actually have more control over their existence than I would have thought that they do. When I use this term, I mean it in the sense that the inmates use the system to their advantage, or at
Being placed into prison negatively and sometimes positively changes lives. Jimmy Santiago Baca writes in his memoir A Place to Stand his experiences involving the negative and positive attributes. Within prison his whole life changes as he puts in the effort to transform his life through writing. In his book he writes, “I became a different man, not because prison was good for me, but in spite of its destructive forces. In prison I learned to believe in myself and to dream for a better life” (Baca 4). His poems, “I am Offering This Poem”, “Who Understands Me but Me”, and “Immigrants in Our Own Land” convey multiple messages of character transformation that the author depicts within his prison memoir A Place to Stand.
An overwhelming majority of the American prisoner population are male. Most prison inmates are under the age of forty. A majority of the prisoners are African American. However, African Americans outnumber white Americans in the general population, therefore the number of African American prisoners are higher.
You are there 23 hours a day, day in and day out, year in and year out. When leaving your cage, you are subjected to a dehumanizing strip search which includes a genital and anal probe, and then handcuffed. You are completely under the control of prison guards who carry pepper gas and long, black batons.” Jim Bencivenga, author of the article, “Inside looking Out”, published by the Christian Science Monitor, can concur with this inmate’s experience by stating, “What the public gets for its money is a mean, ugly place that controls, limits, and dehumanizes.” Taken from the perspective of an author and an inmate, it is apparent that the prison system can be a nasty place to be, which can have a psychological toll on an inmate, and creates a greater reason for a prisoner to seek a sort of escape from it all when they may have nothing; such as art. Most of the inmates claim that the art they create is just a way of expressing themselves and they are not worried about the profit, like James Allridge from Axtman’s article for example. Allridge says, “My art allows me to give back something
Gresham M. Sykes describes the society of captives from the inmates’ point of view. Sykes acknowledges the fact that his observations are generalizations but he feels that most inmates can agree on feelings of deprivation and frustration. As he sketches the development of physical punishment towards psychological punishment, Sykes follows that both have an enormous effect on the inmate and do not differ greatly in their cruelty.
The ethical theory of utilitarianism and the perspective on relativism, of prison labor along with the relativism on criminal behavior of individuals incarcerated are two issues that need to be addressed. Does the utilitarianism of prisoner’s right laws actually protect them? Or are the unethical actions of the international and states right laws exploiting the prison labor? Unethical procedures that impact incarcerated individuals and correctional staff, the relativism of respect as people and not just prisoner’s; the safety of all inmates and correctional staff, are all issues worth continuous reflection.
Whether guilty of crimes or innocent, our incarceration system is an issue that many activists rally around in terms of its success and promise in correcting and rehabilitating criminal behavior. So, to read letters and hear the voices of those who are living on the marginalized edges of our society, but who rarely have a voice in the issue that’s being nationally rallied around, is an uncommon circumstance that should be noted and have more attention and action drawn to. Their desire to educate themselves within the confines of a prison wall is real and heard by those of us who take time to spend their weekday evenings in the bottom of a church basement, sorting through donated books, and reading literary wish-lists of those who are incarcerated.
When an individual is introduced to the prison life, after violating rules and laws, he or she must come to terms about the journey he or she are about to take behind bars in prison. No one can save them, or do their time for them, and a majority of their freedom has been stripped from them either temporarily or permanently. Prison life deals with all walks of life and is not discriminative toward any race. In this paper I will discuss my perspective on prison life, policies I would enforce an inmate’s need for respect, changes on correctional policy, and why people commit crimes.
Our society tends to jump to conclusions and make assumptions of prisoners. Despite what they have committed and how severe it may be they are still human. We look at them as if they are inhumane because they are in prison. They still deserve some of the rights that they had before being convicted. I’m not saying that I am okay with the crimes they have committed but I am okay with them having a little more of their basic rights.