Prison Life - MathiasLink

Prison Life
Realities of Prison Life: The male
inmate’s world v. The Staff World
Prison Subculture
• Values and behavioral
patterns characteristic
of inmates.
– Amazingly consistent
across the country.
The Prisoners Code
• Don’t interfere with
the interests of other
inmates. Never rat on
a con.
• Don’t lose your head.
Play it cool and do
your time.
The Prisoner’s Code
• Don’t exploit inmates.
Don’t steal. Don’t
break your word.
• Don’t whine. Be a
• Don’t be a sucker.
Don’t trust the guards
or staff.
The Language of Confinement
• Rat: An inmate who squeals.
• Gorilla: The inmate that uses force to take
what he wants from others.
• Merchant: One who sells when he should
• Fish: The newly arrived inmate.
The Language of Confinement
• Wolf: The male inmate who assumes the
aggressive male role during gay relations.
• Punk: The male inmate who is forced into a
submissive role in sexual relations.
• Lemon Squeezer: The inmate who has an
unattractive “girlfriend”
• Screw: Guard
Language of Confinement
• Stud Broad (Daddy): The female inmate
who assumes the role of a male in lesbian
• Femme (Mommy): The female inmate who
plays the female role in lesbian relations.
• Cherry: The female inmate who has not
been introduced to gay activities.
Homosexuality in Prison
• Most sexual aggressors
don’t consider themselves
• Sexual release is not the
primary motive.
• Participate in order to
avoid being victims.
• Many have been raped
Prison Lifestyles and Inmate
• The Mean Dude:
– Quick to fight and fight
wild. Give and take no
– Other inmates leave
– Frequent write-ups and
Prisoner Type: The Hedonist
• Build their lives
around limited
pleasures which are
smuggled into prison
or gained through sex.
• Live for the now.
The Opportunist
• Takes advantage of the
positive experiences
prison offers.
– Schooling, trades,
counseling, etc.
– Liked by staff,
mistrusted by
The Retreatist
• Retreat from reality.
Go neurotic or
• Heavily into drugs,
alcohol, suicide
• Depression and mental
illness put them into
protective custody.
The Legalist
• Jail house lawyer.
• Fights confinement,
but with legal writs,
not fists.
The Radical
• See themselves as
political prisoners.
• Society is the
oppressor that forced
them into criminality.
The Colonist
• Some inmates think of
prison as “home.”
• Hold positions of
respect in prison.
• Tend to try to return to
prison if released.
The Religious
• Some prisoners
profess a strong
religious faith.
Born again Christians
Ask prisons to allocate
space and diets for
their spiritual needs.
The Realist
• Confinement happens
when you do crime.
• Prison is a “cost of
doing business.”
• Avoid trouble (ghost)
and continue with
crime once released.
Types of Correctional Officers
• The dictator: Go by the book using prison
rules to enforce their own brand of
discipline. Bullies.
• The Friend: Offer to fraternize with
inmates. “One of the guys” mentality.
• The Merchant: Participates in inmate
Types of Correctional Officers
• The Indifferent: Close to retirement. Low
pay, the view that prisoners are “worthless”.
• The Climber: Young officer with eye on
promotion.Tend to turn blind eye toward
inmates and problems – more concerned
with improving institutional procedures and
their careers.
Types of Correctional Officers
• The Reformer: “Do gooder” among
officers. Prison should offer opportunities
for change. Offer “arm-chair” counseling.
Viewed as naïve but harmless. Most likely
to be accepted by prisoners.
• An insensitive
administration and
neglected prisoner
• Lifestyles like on
• Dehumanizing
• Establishing “balance”