Distinguish between the deprivation and importation models of inmate society. The deprivation model of inmate society emphasizes the role of the prison environment in shaping the inmate society. The importation model of inmate society emphasizes attributes inmates bring with them when they enter prison.
Explain how today’s inmate society differs from those of the past. Compared with prisons of the past, the inmate society in today’s prisons is much more fragmented and conflict-ridden. Physical, psychological, economic, and social victimization are facts of life in many contemporary institutions. Inmates must learn to cope with this state of affairs. Some do so by becoming part of the prison’s violent public culture. Others carve out niches and meet their needs in the prison’s private culture.
Identify some of the special features of life in women’s prisons. Life in women’s prisons is somewhat different from life in men’s prisons. In particular, women’s prisons often have less stringent security measures, are less violent, and are characterized by pseudofamily structures that help the inmates cope.
Describe the profile of correctional officers and explain some of the issues that they face. The growing number of correctional officers who staff prisons are predominantly white and male. Correctional officers face a number of problems in their work, including low pay, work-related conflicts, and a potential for corruption. They are also subject to role conflict because of their dual objectives of custody and treatment. Some officers respond to those problems more constructively than others. Efforts are ongoing to transform prison work into a profession, and issues surrounding those efforts include recruitment and selection, the backlash against affirmative action and other hiring practices, training, and unionism.
Identify prisoners’ rights and relate how they were achieved. The main way that prisoners have gained rights during the past four decades is through intervention by the courts. Until the 1960s, inmates had minimal rights. As the hands-off policy was lifted, prisoners gained a number of important rights: greater access to the courts, easier access to legal services in prison, and improved prison disciplinary procedures. They also gained certain rights under the First, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
List the two most common ways that inmates are released from prison and compare those two ways in frequency of use. Most inmates are released from prison at the discretion of a parole authority or under mandatory release laws. Mandatory release, a method of prison release under which an inmate is released after serving a legally required portion of his or her sentence minus good-time credits, has begun to rival parole release in frequency of use.
Summarize what recidivism research reveals about the success of the prison in achieving deterrence and rehabilitation. When inmates are released from prison, it is hoped that they will not return to crime. Studies show, however, that the rate of return to crime, or recidivism, is high. Studies also show that recidivism rates have remained fairly constant for a long time. Those studies call the deterrence and rehabilitation rationales into question. As a society, our expectations of what incarceration can accomplish are probably unrealistic.