Posted: September 11th, 2023

Prison life and after | Criminal homework help

Chapter 12:
Prison Life and
Life After

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American Society of Criminology (ASC) 2022


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• Remember to watch the lecture videos and review the slides!!
• Material will be on Exam 3
• Readings too!

• Next week: Exam 3
• Not cumulative
• Details to follow
• Check your emails!!


Darla, a white-collar offender

You know, you definitely feel sorry for yourself because you’re in there
and, you know what I mean?

Life is going on without you out there so it’s… it’s real easy to feel sorry
for yourself…

…There’s a lot of things you have to go through and accept it as best as you can.

Darla, a white-collar offender

But it’s not always that easy.

In 2018, 1 in 40 adults under some
type of correctional supervision in
the U.S.

In 2020, 1.2 million in prison

Mass incarceration à more
offenders in prison

Introduction: Living in Prison

• State responsible for safety
and well-being of those it
incarcerates and the public

Common missions of many
correctional institutions
• Protecting the public
• Ensuring safety of

• Care and supervision of

• Reentry


Challenges of prison

• Violence
• Inappropriate sexual

• Gang
• Overcrowding
• Understaffing
• Limited rehabilitation

• “Prison culture”

High Cost $$$$$

High costs of incarceration even excluding treatment and education
• Housing one inmate costs average of $35,000 annually in federal




Living in Prison: People and Their Lives

Correctional officers
• Roles and responsibilities

• Adjustments
• Goodbye to former life
• Rules and regulations
• Food
• People

• Women vs. men
• Race differences
• Class differences


Living in Prison: Correctional Officers

Correctional officers and administrators face behavior and ethical issues
• Correctional officers take oath to protect and serve
• Officers may be tempted to introduce contraband

• Farkas’ (2000) Typologies – READ THIS. BE FAMILIAR WITH THE

üRule Enforcers
üHard Liners
üPeople Workers
üSynthetic Officer
üResidual Type


Living in

Life in Prison: Offenders entering prison must
change their behaviors
• Offenders entering prison must change their

behaviors, attitudes, and language in order
to conform to prison and unofficial convict
rules and regulations.
• Prison argot: Slang used in prison.
• Prisonization: The socialization process in

prison that requires accepting different
values and customs.
• Degree of adherence to prison culture may

vary during incarceration, but tends to be
lowest in the first 6 months and the last 6
months of incarceration.

• Total institution: isolated, closed social system
designed to control people


Living in Prison: Prison Slang

Prison Argot

Term Definition

Bone A shank (knife-like weapon)

Brake fluid Psychiatric medications

Cakero A convict who rapes weaker inmates

Car Prison gang

Catch my fade Fight


Living in Prison: Prison Slang

Prison Argot

Term Definition

Catching the square Challenge to fight by one prisoner to another

Convict A prisoner who is experienced in crime and prison life; used as a term of

Mud Coffee

Punk Gay/lesbian or weak inmate

Soda Cocaine


Living in Prison: Subcultures, Deprivation

Subcultures of Prison
• Three models used to explain inmate subculture
1. Deprivation model: where prisons require inmates to adapt to

being deprived of basic rights and needs
• Pains of imprisonment: The five primary pains that come

from being incarcerated: 1) deprivation of liberty, 2) goods
and services, 3) intimate sexual relationships, 4) autonomy,
and 5) security.
• Inmates may often feel like helpless outcasts, which leads to

negativity, aggression, and resentment.


Living in Prison: Subcultures, Importation

Subcultures of Prison
2. Importation model: experiences and socialization from outside

world brought contribute to behavior
• Convict criminology: The study of crime and correctional systems that

challenges traditional viewpoints.
• Identified the prison subcultures of thief, convict, and legitimate.
• Thief subculture: Prison subculture that includes professional thieves and

values in-group loyalty, trust, and reliability. This subculture includes “right
• Convict subculture: Imports values from the outside and follows the inmate

• Legitimate: A prison subculture wherein one-time offenders identify with

correctional staff and take advantage of educational and rehabilitation


Living in Prison: Subcultures, Importation
model – continued

Subcultures of Prison
2. Importation model: experiences and socialization from outside

world brought contribute to behavior
• Four methods of adapting to being in prison: doing time, jailing, gleaning, and

• Doing time: Inmates who accept and follow the rules
• Jailing: Inmates who have spent a substantial amount of time behind bars and

tend to be comfortable in prison.
• Gleaning: Inmates who take advantage of rehabilitation, educational, and

vocational opportunities while serving time.
• Disorganized: Inmates with mental illness and/or low IQs.


Living in Prison: Subcultures, Situational

Subcultures of Prison
3. Situational model: emphasizes place, time, and person to

understand behavior
• Depends on type of facility, time of year, time of day, staffing, and

involvement of other inmates.


Living in Prison:
Female Subcultures

Female Subcultures

• Demographics

• Far less research on
women’s subcultures

• 1960s research: women
cope differently than men


Sentencing Data: Female Inmates Over Time


Sentencing Data: Female Inmates Over


Living in
Prison: Female

Female Subcultures
• 1980s research: pseudofamily

and homosexual relationships
• Pseudofamily: Relationship

structures built in female
prisons to replicate family
relationships left behind
when incarcerated.

• Examples include having
a “mom” “dad” “sister”

• So-called natural tendencies
or stereotypes such as
neediness, passiveness, and
domestication persisted into
the prison setting.


Living in Prison:

Female Subcultures

Women may experience
pains in harsher way

• Existence of fewer
women’s prisons makes
visitation harder

• Women may enter prison

• Women suffer from
higher levels of distress


Living in Prison: White-Collar Offenders

White-Collar Criminals in Prison
• White-collar criminals incarcerated with other types of criminals
• White collar criminals may cope better in the transition to prison

• 2 theories to explain how white-collar offenders handle prison:
1. Special Sensitivity Hypothesis: white-collar offenders cope poorly to prison

environments because of their middle-class backgrounds

2. Special Resiliency Hypothesis: white-collar offenders adapt well to prison
environments because of their middle-class backgrounds


White-collar offenders have a difficult time in

• More psychological problems

• Difficult time adjusting

• They don’t understand “prison culture”

Different social strata, middle-class people

• Weisburd et al., 1991; Benson and Kerley, 2001

The Special Sensitivity Hypothesis

The Special Resiliency Hypothesis

White-collar offenders fare well in prison

• Social capital and personal support

• “Those criminals” vs. “people like me”

• They understand bureaucracies and

Traditional middle-class values = buffer

• Benson and Cullen, 1988

Adjustment Issues – Most Difficult




1 1 1











Other inmates Correctional

Absence of
home and


Medical care Lack of

Overcrowding Other



9. Overall, which one of these was the most difficult for you to adjust to? (Check only one.)

Adjustment – Most Difficult to Adjust To


—Mark (Black, M, WCC)

“I talked to my family in length, but I kept it (conviction) away from my
kids. I didn’t want my kids to know what was going on so. My wife
and my sisters (knew). I didn’t tell my mom also because you know,
she is elderly now…I’m basically her favorite son and if she heard
that I was going to prison…so we kept that away from her.

And you know, I had to be a little bit creative…”

My Qualitative Interviews with White-Collar Offenders

“My husband came every other weekend, even though
it was an 8-hour drive…I always had visitors. I was very
fortunate. I always had that to look forward to…Myself
and one other girl, we were like clockwork.”

“That’s why for me, I didn’t have my family visit a
lot…Where for me, I couldn’t do this—the
visitations. Because I couldn’t get up and have to
know that my family is in a hotel and know that they
gotta do it again tomorrow.”

—Kathy (White, F, WCC)

—Darla (White, F, WCC)

—Theodore (White, M, WCC)
“[It] was my mistake. I have to deal with it.”

My Qualitative Interviews with White-Collar Offenders

Prison Violence

Prison Gangs
• Originated in 1950s
• Gang members present security risk
• Gang affiliations often drawn along racial or ethnic lines


Prison Violence

• Violence takes many forms
• Violence can occur for number of reasons
• Rioting: violence among inmates beyond control of prison staff


Prison Violence

Sexual Violence
• Exact amount of sexual violence that occurs difficult to determine
• 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) of 2003: try to address issue of

sexual violence
• Many rapes go unreported

• Farmer v. Brennan (1994): SCOTUS ruled that the prison’s failure to protect
inmates from sexual assault is an Eighth Amendment violation.

• Methods of combating sexual violence in prison include using better classification
to identify vulnerable inmates and controlling and restricting all relationships, even

• Screening for high-risk factors may also help lower the number of incidents:
ü Physical size.
ü Age.
üOffense history.
ü Sexual orientation.
ü Prior sexual abuse.


Prison Challenges

Medical Care and Death
• Prisons need to care for a range of mental and physical health issues and deal

with number of older inmates
• Prisoners over 55 represent the fastest-growing segment of the prison

population, exacerbated by mandatory minimum sentencing and recidivism.
• Costs increase significantly for elderly, ill inmates.

• Lawsuits have been filed for substandard medical treatment.
• HIV/AIDS deaths have dropped because of advances in medical treatment.

• HIV infection rates are five times higher than in the general population, and
privacy rights prohibit public identification of infected inmates.

• An estimated 3% to 11% of the prison and jail population experiences co-
occurring substance use disorders and mental health issues, with high rates of
depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.


Prison Challenges

Prisoner Rights
• Until the 1960s, court intervention in prison cases rare
• Wolf v. McDonnell (1974): prisoners not entitled to full due process

protections but they must be given written notice of the
charges, be provided a written statement of evidence, and
be able to call witnesses and present evidence.


Life After Prison: Parole and Reentry

Criminal record may cause number of problems, including obtaining a
job, housing, or education or vocational training

Access to employment may vary depending on the person
• For example, consider a white-collar offender vs. an average offender
• The white-collar offender may have greater social ties that will help them

obtain employment than someone who may not be as fortunate with similar


—Arthur (White, M, WCC)

“I had a job. I had a job waiting for me. I didn’t have to go
through the whole process of you know, trying to get my license
and trying to get my social security card, and trying to find a job,
and trying to find insurance. I mean, I had all that stuff…

I knew some of the guys that lost everything.”

My Qualitative Interviews with White-Collar Offenders

Life After Prison: Parole and Reentry

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL)
• End second-class status of those who served sentence

• Mandatory collateral consequences should be disfavored

• Full restoration of rights and status available on release

• Individuals should have opportunities to restore rights/status
• Individuals charged should have opportunity to avoid conviction


Life After Prison: Parole and Reentry

• Parole is conditional release from prison
• Inmates must meet conditions established by parole board
• Parole board determines if an inmate will be released.
• Victims and families are permitted to attend parole hearings and allowed to

make statements; they are also notified of the parole board’s decision.
• Violations of the conditions set by the parole board may result in the parolee

being sent back to prison, a warning, or some other sanction.
• Conditions vary, but generally include: gaining/maintaining employment,

obeying the law, not leaving the state, and paying any required restitution.


Life After
Prison: Parole
and Reentry

Community Reentry

• Many prisons offer reentry programming

• Prisonization may hinder reentry

• Bureau of Justice Statistics: 596,389 inmate released annually


Life After Prison: Parole and Reentry

Community Reentry
• COVID-19 pandemic: some states began to grant early release
• Funding for reentry programming available from Second Chance Act of

• Intensive case management: evidence-based practice that includes

low staff-to-client ratios, 24-hour coverage, and services


Life After Prison:
Parole and Reentry


• Inmates often have problems finding work due to their
criminal history:
• “Ban-the-box” campaign seeks to remove the

criminal history question from employment forms.
• This criminal history box places offenders at a

distinct disadvantage, which leads to under- or
non-employment and therefore recidivism.

• 24 states and over 100 cities have adopted fair-
chance policies and have abandoned the criminal
history question.

• Successful reentry requires job training, employment
counseling, and placement programs.


Life After Prison: Parole and Reentry

Marriage and Relationships
• Many ex-convicts have few friends or family members to rely on upon release
• Maintaining family ties can help

• The majority of former prisoners depend on family for housing after release.
• Spouses and/or children are more likely to recognize deviant behavior.
• Fear of risking familial connections may result in “desistance by default.”

• Factors crucial to successful reentry:
• Housing
• Emotional support
• Financial support
• Acceptance
• Encouragement

•GOAL: Lower recidivism rates

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