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Prior to beginning work on this assignment, please complete the  assigned readings in your textbook and read the article Prison Higher  Education and Social Transformation. You may also wish to consider some  of the recommended resources for this week.

For this assignment, you will prepare a digital presentation  (PowerPoint or equivalent) detailing roles and issues for corrections  officials in public and private institutions. One of the goals for this  assignment is to provide an opportunity for you to organize and  summarize elements connected with functions and issues in corrections.  Effectively summarizing and presenting information in a digital format  can apply to many contexts. Your slides will consider issues for  correctional officers in social justice and criminal justice contexts.  Please address each of the following:

  • Explain the corrections officer’s place within the social roles of incarcerated persons. 
    • For this part, you may wish to consider assigned material in your textbook.
  • Examine the role of corrections officers within jails and prison administrations for public institutions. 
    • Be sure to address roles in both jail and prison contexts.
  • Compare and contrast issues for correctional officers in public institutions and private institutions. 
    • For this part, you may wish to consider content in Chapter 10 of  your textbook. You may also wish to review some of the recommended  resources for this week that address privatizing corrections.

*Note: You are encouraged to integrate any feedback from your instructor and upload the assignment to your ePortfolio.

The Digital Slide Presentation: Roles and Issues for Corrections Officers presentation

  • Must be five to seven slides in length (not including title and  references slides) and formatted according to APA style as outlined in  the Ashford Writing Center’s How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation (Links to an external site.) 
  • Must include a separate title slide with the following: 
    • Title of presentation
    • Student’s name
    • Course name and number
    • Instructor’s name
    • Date submitted

Learning Outcomes After reading this chapter, you should be able to

▪ Describe early conceptions of the prison social system. ▪ Explain the functional/deprivation model of prison social organization. ▪ Explain the importation model of prison social organization. ▪ Explain contemporary conceptions of imprisonment. ▪ Identify modern explanations of doing “hard time.” ▪ Describe both the private agenda and public agenda of correctional officers.

Ann Johansson/Associated Press

Imprisonment 4

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Early Conceptions of Prison Social Organization

Introduction “This is our home. . . . What you got to remember is that we live here. This prison is noth- ing but a mini-society that we run. The guards are only here for a job. We are here twenty- four hours a day.” This quote from the movie Other Prisoners highlights the importance of the prison social structure and its influence on a prison’s everyday workings. From correctional officers to “new fish” inmates, each individual involved in a prison is immersed in its social world. Many scholars have attempted to understand the effects the prison world has on those who interact within it. This chapter discusses various ideas about the origin of prison social structures and the internal and external factors that influence them.

In our discussion, we will examine models that attempt to explain the character and for- mation of inmate societies, highlighting the most important aspects of each. We show how each model contributes something different to the discussion of prison social structures and imprisonment as well as how prisoners’ roles make each model significant.

Our examination of prison social structure begins by exploring early conceptualizations of the prison world. From there we look at the functional/deprivation model of inmate social systems, a model that has significantly contributed to the research literature. This model was heavily influenced by the discipline of sociology and remains a major explanation for the social structures that exist behind prison walls. Then we explore another model of inmate social systems that was created, in part, by an ex-offender. This model, known as the impor- tation model, argues that influences external to a prison are the most critical when trying to understand and explain its social structures.

The chapter then examines some contemporary ideas regarding how prison social structures are created. Prisons today are quite complex and require other models to fully explain their social workings. We examine these contemporary ideas and comment on their relevancy to understanding prison social structures and imprisonment in general. We also explore the research literature on correctional officers, raising some key issues that face these crimi- nal justice professionals. Finally, we conclude by exploring some contemporary ideas about prison management and its relation to prisoner social systems. These ideas are at the fore- front of thought about how prisoners’ social systems should be controlled by prison officials.

4.1 Early Conceptions of Prison Social Organization Our understanding of prison social structures was quite limited until the mid-20th century. It was clear that people who ran institutions of confinement were aware of many of the key ele- ments of what we would call a social system today, such as roles, differentiation, organization, and complexity. Nevertheless, an investigation of the prison’s own unique social structure did not begin until 1940, when Donald Clemmer published his now classic piece, The Prison Com- munity. In it, Clemmer argued that prisoners formed social arrangements inside the institu- tion similar to those found on the outside. More importantly, Clemmer argued that through institutionalization, inmates experience a process whereby traditional values, beliefs, and attitudes were stripped from them and replaced by the prison’s cultural values, which are often based on manipulation, deceit, and criminality.

Section 4.1

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Section 4.1Early Conceptions of Prison Social Organization

Prisonization Clemmer’s analysis suggested that prison- ers changed their behavior upon being incarcerated. This change, which Clemmer called prisonization, involves the adop- tion of specific behavioral patterns that are consistent with a prison’s culture. Clemmer argued that a prisoner becomes increasingly removed from conventional and accepted behaviors and actions the longer he or she is under the influence of prison society. In addition to suggesting that prisoners internalize unconventional attitudes in prison, Clemmer also argued that these antisocial attitudes become more firmly entrenched the longer a per- son is institutionalized. In effect, the lon- ger the incarceration experience, the more prisonized the inmate becomes; and the more prisonized the inmate, the more difficult it is to reach and reform him. Clemmer argued that the length of time served is a key factor that affects the degree to which an inmate loses his or her belief in and acceptance of traditional values, beliefs, and attitudes.

Testing the Prisonization Hypothesis: Wheeler To test Clemmer’s hypothesis, many early researchers examined the influence of time served on prisoner behavior, as well as the relationship between time served and the acceptance and internalization of the prison culture. For example, Stanton Wheeler (1961) sought to test the degree to which prisoners become prisonized over time and how that affects their allegiance and conformity to the prison staff ’s expectations. Did an inmate who had many contacts with the prison social system exhibit more of a prisonized experience than the inmate who had fewer contacts with the prison social system? In addition, how did an inmate’s allegiance to the prison social system vary by degree of time served? Were there differences between inmates who had served shorter sentences compared to those who served longer ones in terms of their allegiance to staff expectations? Wheeler’s analysis largely supported the priso- nization hypothesis put forth by Clemmer.

Wheeler found that the degree to which inmates became prisonized was directly related to their involvement in the informal social system of the prison. Inmates also experienced a sense of role conflict as they became more assimilated into the social system. Wheeler (1961) states:

The inmate who values friendship among his peers and also desires to con- form to the staff ’s norms faces a vivid and real role conflict. The conflict is not apparent or perhaps is not felt so intensely during the earliest stages of con- finement, but with increasing length of time in the prison the strain becomes acute; inmates move to resolve the strain either by giving up or being excluded from primary ties, or by a shift in attitudes. (p. 704)

© Columbia/courtesy Everett Collection Movies like The Shawshank Redemption illustrate the idea of prisonization: that it is hard to return to society after a long imprisonment. In what ways do you think movies stereotype prison life?

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Section 4.1Early Conceptions of Prison Social Organization

Wheeler also argued that the degree of assimilation to inmate culture was contingent on the “career phase” in which inmates found themselves. This concept, known as differential attachment, suggests inmates assimilate in a U-shaped pattern, whereby greater allegiance to conventional attitudes and staff norms are experienced in the early and late phases of con- finement, and there is less acceptance of such norms in the middle phase of incarceration. In other words, inmates who had served less than 6 months were generally very accepting of staff expectations and conformed to them, whereas those who had served more than 6 months and had more than 6 months left were the least accepting and conforming. Thus, the more removed a prisoner is from the community, the less accepting he or she is of staff expec- tations and, as a result, the more pronounced the prisonization. Research suggests inmates behave this way out of self-interest; most show conformity with staff expectations toward the end of a sentence as a means to ensure release from the institution.

Wheeler’s research essentially agreed with Clemmer’s prisonization hypothesis but indicated it was not necessarily the case for all inmates. He went on to suggest that prisoners need to be dealt with according to their phase of incarceration. His research suggests that inmates are prisonized and “deprisonized” and that a direct, linear progression into negative behav- ior patterns is not always the result of length of time served. Instead, inmates’ adaptive pat- terns are complex and require other types of research to determine how they cope with their environments.

Testing the Prisonization Hypothesis: Garabedian Peter Garabedian (1963) continued the investigation into the prisonization process by exam- ining the social roles and socialization processes present in the prison community. Like Wheeler, Garabedian sought to examine the complexities associated with prisonization but also aimed to identify role types exhibited by inmates. He found essentially five role types: Square John, Right Guy, Politician, Outlaw, and Ding. These role types represent prisoners’ adaptive responses to problems endemic to the prison setting.

Square Johns are most in tune with the conventional attitudes and values of the prison’s staff and its society. They seek to do their time with as few problems as possible and in accordance with the expectations of the staff.

Right Guys are most opposed to the expectations of the staff; they are viewed as the prisoner most in tune with the expectations and demands of the inmate society and ultimately the most respected. According to Garabedian, both the Square John and Right Guy roles subor- dinate their individual interests to the collective interests of the group. It is the group that counts, not the individual.

Politicians are the keenest type of inmate and have usually committed crimes that involved manipulation and deceit. They tend to interact with both inmates and staff.

Outlaws are the most feared type of inmate. They have resorted to violence or will use it to get what they want from others. They tend to be isolated from other inmates and staff because of their penchant for physical confrontations.

Finally, the Dings are those who have no other social characterization that clearly defines their behaviors. In many cases, according to Garabedian, they have committed nonviolent sex

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Section 4.2The Functional/Deprivation Model of Prison Social Organization

offenses. They tend to fade into the background of the inmate culture and are isolated from meaningful inmate and staff contact.

These role types respond to the prison environment in differentiated and unique ways. Like Clemmer and Wheeler, Garabedian found that an inmate’s degree of prisonization varies by role type. For Dings, the early phase is the most important; for Right Guys and Square Johns, the middle phase; and for Outlaws, the late phase. Politicians were not found to have a critical phase during institutionalization. Prisoners’ differential form of adaptation by role type not only suggests that inmate social systems are complex but also reinforces the idea that uni- form treatment programs may not be the most effective for changing the behaviors of inmates who hold different roles.

The early research on prisons and the prisonization process suggests not only that adapting to the prison environment is a complex process but also that a prison’s social structure pro- duces behaviors and role types that vary over time. Accordingly, it would be reasonable to ask whether prison social systems vary by both time and location. For example, is the prisoner social system of a medium security institution the same as that found in a maximum secu- rity penitentiary—and do these systems remain constant over time? The early evidence sug- gested that prisoner social structures represent prisoners’ complex adaptation to their indi- vidual environments. As such, prison social structures may be viewed as prisoners’ unique attempts to cope with their environment. Or they may be the function of attitudes, beliefs, and values that prisoners bring into the institution by virtue of being incarcerated. These two views seek to answer the most fundamental question about how prisoner social structures develop: “How and why do these social structures originate in the prison environment?” To provide an answer, we must explore the two major models of inmate social system devel- opment: the functional/deprivation and importation models. We begin with the functional/ deprivation model.

4.2 The Functional/Deprivation Model of Prison Social Organization

In 1958 sociologist Gresham Sykes published The Society of Captives, which provided com- prehensive and enlightening accounts of prison life and how incarcerated men adapted to it. Today this small work is considered a classic in prison literature, since it put forth a major conceptual model for understanding prisoner social systems: the functional/depri- vation model.

This model observes that prisoners interact with and adapt to the prison setting by devel- oping rules and regulations that enable them to cope with its unique demands. As a result, prison behavioral patterns are directly functional to the environment of the prison. All pris- oner behaviors are viewed as responses to the regimen imposed by the institutional setting. Sykes wanted to know how and why prisoners respond to prison the way they do, and he sought to identify and classify related behaviors.

To answer these questions, Sykes went to a maximum security prison in New Jersey and observed the adaptation patterns exhibited by prisoners. He found three fundamental adap- tive processes at work. First, he argued that prisoners experience pains of imprisonment

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Section 4.2The Functional/Deprivation Model of Prison Social Organization

by virtue of being placed in the institution. These pains are unique to an inmate’s particular prison environment, and the prisoner social system revolves around trying to cope with these pains individually and collectively.

Second, Sykes found that prisoners create clearly identifiable argot roles in prison. Note that these labels are now largely considered outdated by most modern correctional schol- ars and professionals However, Sykes’s intent at the time was to describe specific identities and expectations for the prisoners who assume them. Take, for example, the prisoner who is aggressive toward other inmates. Known as the “gorilla” in the prison of the 1950s (and as Garabedian’s “outlaw” in the 1960s), this person resorts to the threat or use of force to get what he or she wants from other prisoners. Like the pains of imprisonment, these argot roles represent functional responses to the deprivations experienced in prison.

Finally, Sykes argued that there is a relationship between prison stability and inmates’ social organization. Understanding control in a prison requires an examination of the role the inmate social system plays in providing stability. A prison’s stability is inexorably tied to pris- oners’ social organization and how they adapt to the day-to-day contingencies of prison life.

The Pains of Imprisonment Inmates essentially experience five pains of imprisonment; each one is a deprivation experi- enced simply by virtue of being in prison.

Deprivation of Liberty First and foremost, prisoners experience the deprivation of liberty. The most visible and deeply felt pain, this deprivation is the most obvious, since the inmate cannot leave the prison; and in fact, the deprivation of liberty is a prison’s central purpose. The inmate is in the state of “involuntary seclusion of the outlaw” (Sykes, 1958, p. 65). He or she is not only restricted from making decisions about the ability to move at will but, more importantly, is rejected by the community through being placed in prison. The inmate must find a way to cope with the label of prisoner (both within prison and upon being released). Often, the prisoner “copes” by rejecting the society that has placed him or her in prison.

Deprivation of Goods and Services Second, prisoners are deprived of most goods and services when incarcerated; they no longer have access to many of the amenities they enjoyed when they were free. In this process, the prisoner is stigmatized as less of a social being, in society’s eyes. In a world where material possessions are critical to the definition of oneself, a rather poor disposition is created and perpetuated by being incarcerated—a prisoner is denied the basic items that general society uses to define success or even acceptance. In short, as Sykes (1958) suggests, “[The prisoner] must carry the additional burden of social definitions which equate his material deprivation with personal inadequacy” (p. 70).

Deprivation of Sexual Contact Third, prison settings typically deprive an inmate of her or his preferred sexual activi- ties. Because of the physical limitations imposed by prison, it may be impossible for some

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Section 4.2The Functional/Deprivation Model of Prison Social Organization

prisoners to adopt their preferred sexual roles while incarcerated. As with material posses- sions, denying an inmate’s sexual expression restricts an important part of his or her iden- tity. Heterosexual prisoners who engage in same-gender sexual behaviors while incarcerated are reflecting functional adaptations to a setting in which their preferred means of sexual expression are denied. Interestingly, since the 1950s a few states—California, Connecticut, New York, and Washington—have instituted conjugal visits as a way to alleviate this form of deprivation (Goldstein, 2015).

Denial of Autonomy Fourth, prison denies inmates their auton- omy. Autonomy refers to one’s ability to make daily decisions about one’s life. In prison, however, practically all decisions are made for the inmate; as a result, he or she is at the mercy of the wishes of the correctional staff. This situation of depen- dency reduces many prisoners to a state of childhood, in which they are unable to make even rudimentary decisions about their lives. In this sense the custodial regi- men is demeaning and repulsive to many inmates; it violates their self-image as people who can make their own decisions. By being denied this opportunity to make their own decisions, prisoners are forced to live dependent lives.

Deprivation of Security Finally, while in prison, inmates are deprived of security. Most prisoners do not feel safe in an environment where dangerous people have been placed. As one inmate put it, “The worst thing about prison is you have to live with other pris- oners” (Sykes 1958, p. 77). Indeed, many prisoners feel that the institution is not safe and secure and that they could be vic- timized at any time. Moreover, many inmates experience constant conflict with other inmates who seek to gain favors or property and test them for weakness or strength. This pressure strains an inmate’s self-image, producing a deep-seated anxi- ety. How an inmate reacts to these chal- lenges affects his or her reputation among other inmates.

David Goldman/Associated Press Being denied autonomy, such as the ability to decide when and what to eat, is one of several pains of imprisonment. In your opinion, is it necessary to deprive inmates of their autonomy? Why or why not?

Nanine Hartzenbusch/Associated Press Loss of security is another major pain of imprisonment. This photo shows weapons confiscated from inmates after a prison sweep. How might this specific pain of imprisonment influence prisoner behavior?

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Section 4.2The Functional/Deprivation Model of Prison Social Organization

Taken together, these five pains of imprisonment are focal points around which inmates’ social interactions revolve. In response, Sykes (1958) suggests that an inmate can either function as a participant in a “war of all against all” (pp. 82–83) or bind him- or herself into a position of cooperation with other inmates to alleviate the pains of imprisonment.

Through this lens, the prison social structure represents a compromise between individuals seeking to cope with the pains of imprisonment and a collective body of inmates who negoti- ate informal rules regarding how they address the pains of imprisonment. It is the mixture of these two positions that defines the nature and extent of a prison’s social system. Addition- ally, the prisoner social world functions as a mechanism by which to adapt to the “rigors of confinement.” These rigors “can at least be mitigated by the patterns of social interaction established among the inmates themselves” (Sykes, 1958, p. 82).

Social Roles in Prisons Surprisingly, there has been scant research on inmate social groups over the past several decades. Most prison research has focused on negative actions without conscious regard for how social groups function or how they affect prisoners and those whose job it is to keep them in check.

One study (Chong, 2013), however, investigated social groups in California prisons with the aim of understanding how they function. The most striking finding was that racial segregation

Applying Criminal Justice: Prison Gangs and Drugs

Research has documented the existence and prevalence of prison gangs. In most prisons, gangs are a part of the social system and have proved to be very difficult to control, espe- cially because such gangs have many members spread across different institutions. Not only do prison gangs exist in the big states of California, Texas, Florida, and Illinois, they also pose a problem for correctional systems at all levels of government (federal, state, and local).

A 2010 study by Winterdyk and Ruddell of prisons systems with nearly 2 million U.S. inmates revealed that not only had prison gangs increased in number, they had also become more “disruptive and sophisticated” (p. 731) over the previous 5 years. The study indicated that there were no obvious ways to address the problems these gangs cause. One complaint lodged in this study was that a lack of rehabilitation opportunities for inmates was “one shortcoming in the range of gang management strategies in most jurisdictions” (Winterdyk & Ruddell, 2010, p. 730).

Among the more serious issues associated with prison gangs is their distribution of illegal drugs. As discussed earlier, the deprivation of goods and services is a significant adjustment for prisoners; when the inmate social system serves to distribute items to prisoners, it pro- vides a way to ameliorate the harsh conditions of confinement. How do drugs affect prison- ers’ attitudes toward their surroundings? Is there a way to offer prisoners an alternative to prison gangs and illegal drugs that is more prosocial? Or are prison gangs too powerful, especially in their ability to distribute illegal drugs? How might correctional officials combat prison gangs and drug distribution?

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Section 4.2The Functional/Deprivation Model of Prison Social Organization

continues to be the main social grouping in California prisons. Chong also found that the leaders of such groups hold great sway in terms of how inmate populations func- tion and the degree of peace they are able to experience.

Just as leaders emerge in every social setting, whether it is read- ily apparent or not, leaders exist in the inmate community as well. The inmate community regularly has leaders representing their respective groups and there is a tremendous amount of commu- nication at the level of leadership that affects the inmate community and determines many social occurrences. (Chong, 2013, p.36)

Leaders determine whether there will be war or peace among groups in the complex social networks of modern prisons.

Prison Social Organization and Stability The functional/deprivation model highlights the importance of the relationship between the formal structure of the prison and the informal workings of the prisoner social system. The inmate social system forms in response to the prison’s structures and processes; yet at the same time, the inmates’ social world is a critical component of the smooth operation of the prison. To deny this reality is to fail to accept the kinds of power that prisoners have in a correctional setting. As Sykes (1958) suggests, when prison staff cannot maintain control through a more formal system of rules and regulations, they may rely instead rely on a series of accommodations. He states:

Unable to count on a sense of duty to motivate their captives to obey and unable to depend on the direct and immediate use of violence to insure a step- by-step submission to the rules, the custodians must fall back on a system of rewards and punishments. (Sykes, 1958, p. 50)

Because of this give-and-take relationship between correctional officer and inmate, the cor- rectional officer provides a modicum of control that is critical to the mission of the institution. In this way the system of informal rewards and punishments serves the central need of the prison: stability. Moreover, guards must deal with the fact that prisons have many inherent weaknesses that make total prisoner compliance nearly impossible to achieve. To begin with, throughout the course of their workday, guards can develop close, trusting relationships with the prisoners. While guards may not completely trust prisoners, they learn to respect the inmates as people who happen to be in prison, as opposed to criminals who have been incar- cerated. Daily interactions tend to soften guards’ perception of inmates, and this makes it more difficult for a guard to demand and expect total compliance from an inmate.

Ann Hermes/© 2011 Christian Science Monitor/Getty Images The dynamics of a women’s prison tend to be different from those of a men’s prison. Why do you think this is the case?

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Section 4.3The Importation Model of Prison Social Organization

Second, reciprocity is foundational to the role of a guard. Largely due to an imbalance between the demands of the role and the resources available to meet these demands, guards cannot accomplish all the functions required of them. As a result, many inmates serve to carry out functions that are assigned to guards. For example, keeping the cell block clean is a correc- tional officer duty, but is often given to an inmate as part of his or her duties. Under this arrangement, the cell block is kept clean, the officer is happy, and the inmate is able to work and may receive favors from the officer, such as more time out of his or her cell. This reci- procity can, in turn, force some guards to turn their backs on rule violations or to be less demanding of inmates when it comes to enforcing policies and procedures. Take our previous example: the officer may allow the inmate to possess contraband items, such as food taken from the cafeteria to be consumed in the cell block, which is against the prison’s rules. The officers exercise discretionary authority in a way that legitimizes the reciprocal relationship between correctional officer and prisoner. In this way the guards’ authority may be somewhat eroded, but the daily tasks of the job end up getting done.

Finally, a guard is evaluated on how well he or she maintains control over the cell block. By providing rewards and benefits to prisoners, a guard provides more certainty to the prison environment and exerts greater control over the population. Navigating the inmate social system using give-and-take arrangements becomes a critical component of the prison’s for- mal structure. More importantly, the guard is placed in the middle of an inmate social system that thrives on the reciprocity between the correctional officer and the inmate. Therefore, the coercive power presumably inherent in a correctional officer’s role is diminished by the structural qualities of the prison.

The social organization of prisoners is invariably tied to a prison’s stability. Keeping inmates in line requires administrative staff and custodial officers to balance the …


Learning Outcomes After reading this chapter, you should be able to

▪ Discuss correctional administration from different analytical perspectives. ▪ Understand common concerns for management, including bureaucracy, budgets, managing, decision making, and both informal and formal aspects of organization.

▪ Discuss prominent management issues that arise in a typical maximum security prison and a probation field office.

▪ Identify issues associated with the changing nature of correctional administration.

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

Correctional Administration


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Analytical Levels for Correctional Administration

Introduction “Administration is most often discussed as the art of getting things done” (Simon, 1976, p. 1). In the context of prisons, administration is the process of managing a correctional organiza- tion. Indeed, correctional managers and leaders have a great deal to do. They must be con- cerned with leadership, planning, organizing, managing internal and external environments, decision making, budgets and fiscal management, program implementation and assessment, human resource management and development, and related areas. Correctional leaders and managers are responsible for directing correctional staff as they accomplish specific goals (Stojkovic & Farkas, 2003). They are expected to maintain a safe and secure environment for both staff and inmates, to provide sanctions to offenders while also providing services that might “correct” their behavior, to “do more with less” as budgets become tighter, and to respond to both internal interests (such as the concerns of unions) and external interests (such as those of co