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Prisons in the real world 
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Post Prisons in the real world
In this thread, Frank talked about differences between the SPE and actual prisons. ... t3926.html

Real-life prisons are a relevant topic, both in their own right and when comparing them to the SPE. Let's not talk about Abu Ghraib here, since it deserves a separate thread.

Sat Dec 01, 2007 2:55 pm
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The main focus is obviously about how America's prisons are reportedly becoming training grounds for radical, terroristic forms of Islam. (I'm not sure how much of this is rhetoric though.)

Hi Irish! Long time no chat

Here in NY it was somewhat recently discovered that a Muslim priest was preaching radical Islam and recruiting for terrorist activities, he was in charge of hiring Muslim priests for the entire state. Apparently the problem was rather wide spread and homeland security got involved. Dozens of priests were fired from our penal system and the screening process has been radically changed.

This all happened more than a few years ago but we learned about it as a lesson to always keep a watchful eye on everyone in the prison. The things we find can, and do affect life on the outside.

Heh, absolutely. And if they're represented by overworked public defenders, a lot of them or more on top of their cases than their advocates. You should see some of the correspondence we get. Jailhouse attorneys intrigue me.

That's an interesting viewpoint and I am sure accurate... but I was really not talking about the outside courts.

The vast majority of the grievance material never goes to the courts, and when it does it is usually the officer facing charges. The grievance process usually results in officer discipline, charges against the officer grieved or changes in state directive.

Officers have to walk a fine line now, if we are found negligent or purposely denying an inmate their rights we can be terminated or brought up on charges by the state. The outside courts rarely get involved inside the prison; we have a 3 tier disciplinary system that is run by the top brass inside the jail that is reviewed by the superintendent and other state representatives.

BTW, good to hear you are doing well, Frank. Stay safe.

Thanks! Staying safe is the plan!

The interesting part of the study is what it revealed about human nature, and how people on each side behave when one group has massive authority over another. That's more significant than the extent to which the SPE reflected a real-life prison.

Yes in that respect the study was worth while and prisons from that era did make adjustments to some of their procedures based off of that study. But to my knowledge officers never had the kind of authority given to the guards in that experiment.

Still, I wonder how much, in practice, prisons live up to the standards that they're supposed to. From everything I've read, prison life is incredibly nasty.

I think that that depends largely on the prison; each prison has differing standards and housing rules. Much of which is determined by the type of inmates they receive, the layout of the prison and how many inmates they have per officer.

It is often stated that many prisons are run by the inmates not the officers. Some prisons have more than 200 inmates per officer and control in that situation is impossible. Their yard might have more than 500 inmates out at one time being watched by a hand full of officers on the ground and 2 tower officers. In that environment inmates can get away with a lot and they know it.

In my jail the ratio is around 75 inmates per officer; and while this sounds like a lot it is actually manageable, but we all know that if the inmates manage to organize there is little that we can do to stop them from taking the prison.

Note that Zimbardo did consult with an ex-con before and during the experiment. However, it's not clear how much he interacted with correctional officers.

I think an ex-con is the last person I would go to, to get information on how inmates are treated, or I would at least temper what they were saying with the officer's side of the story.

Inmates always want to play the part of the victim of the system, when in reality they victimize each other and even the officers rather regularly.

One inmate's story

In our special housing unit (a murder that has been convicted with several life sentences) has managed to put 3 officers in the hospital (one officer was out for 2 years with a severe head injury) stabbed over 10 other inmates back when he was in general population (one of which died) He has also been convicted of rape, assault, weapon possession, and drug possession all numerous times. He now has Hepatitis and is on weekly dialysis.

He is a murder that since he has been in the system has cost the state well over a quarter of a million dollars in medical treatment of his victims and for himself. This is not counting outside court costs for his other crimes or his regular room and board expenses.

He is currently costing the state over $5,000 a month for his continuing medical treatment and somehow if you ask him, he is the victim.

This is not an isolated case, we have several inmates that fit these criteria in our SHU and I suspect that they are more numerous in the max and super max prisons.


Sat Dec 01, 2007 4:35 pm
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