Many people don’t know much about what goes on behind those barbed wires on the prison fences. But through research, I have come to know. That the subcultures within the prison grounds have a negative affect on the prison life in the United States. Prison subculture is the culture of prison society and thought by some to arise from the ‘pains of imprisonment’ while others believe it is imported to the prison; it is also known as the ‘convict code’, some of the features of prison subculture include: don’t snitch on your fellow inmates, don’t trust the prison staff, help other inmates, show loyalty to other inmates, and share what you have (Drislane & Parkinson). It’s brought in from offenders who developed their own beliefs and norms while they were still on the streets. Prison subculture is similar to the offender’s subculture out on the streets. Before being locked up behind bars, this is known as the importation theory (Sage Pub, 2009). The prisoner’s beliefs and norms have a big impact on their behavior. The question that comes to mind is whether prison preventing more crime than it is causing, or less? It is evident that social norms play a vast role in prison subcultures.
There are many things we become accustomed to, such as brushing our teeth in the morning, going to school everyday, and going to your job to make money. Others accustom themselves to crime, such as dealing and doing drugs on a daily basis. All these things become the norms of our lives and it eventually becomes hard to change the way you live, for example. If you grew up surrounded by crime, it becomes part of your life too and the consequences of those crimes don’t effect your behavior; when sent to a prison, you’re surrounded by other criminals with different backgrounds. Some people say that while in prison, offenders learn from the older and/or more experienced inmates on things, such as, how to commit crimes and avoid being caught more effectively. These offenders not only learn how to be a better criminal, but they also get to know the norms of the prison’s subculture. It is known to people that criminals who have spent time in prison happen to recidivate, or reoffend, at a high rate. It has been proven by studies that by placing the low-risk offenders with the high-risk offenders do increase the risk of the low-risk offender to recidivate. Basically, the high-risk offenders have a much higher influence on the low-risk offenders.
There is a broad difference between the prison subcultures of men and women. A women’s prison is far less violent than men’s prison. Women are most likely sent to prison due to a drug offense or property crime, very few are violent offenders, which makes a women’s prison not as predatory than in men’s prisons. The inmate subcultures in men’s prison mostly exist to protect inmates from each other and help balance rejection. While the same happens in women’s prisons, women also find that the subculture gives them emotional support.
Prisons are known as “dangerous” due to the conditions inside, which might increase crime in multiple ways. Violence against inmates by guards is expected in prison life, not only is this kind of violence a crime that is inflicted without any purpose, but it causes inmates to commit crime too. Being brutalized by guards can diminish the offender’s sense of personhood or cause him to resent the systems of authority. Also, violence committed against inmates by other inmates can do the same thing and diminish the victim’s sense of personhood and resent the systems of authority because they didn’t protect them from this violence. Inmates will sometimes associate with gangs to protect themselves, and also sometimes victimize other inmates. These acts in prison can lead criminals to be more hostile, violent, and socially unstable upon release from prison.