Criminal Justice Exam III
The article looks into the risks of abusing prisoners that supermax prison is faced with. As indicated in Haney (2008) analysis, the article reveals that there are powerful contextual forces that combine to influence police officers to abuse prisoners. These rampant abuses if allowed to continue is likely to result in the development of mistreatment culture in the society. The forces behind mistreatment are a big problem to ideological beliefs or the surrounding environment that is being developed to encourage practices of cruelty in the social setting (Honey, 2008). Furthermore, these ideologies may tend to create desperate and intense relationships between guards and prisoners. The implication of the experience that prisoners go through in the hands of prison guards is that it may become difficult to correct people in the future once they have realized that even the environment they are exposed to is also abusing their roles. Good people, especially among the guards may follow the same trend by learning to abuse power as usual because they would consider it a norm among the prison guards. At the same time, an environment like the one character that of supermax prison is likely to create an environment where people become assaultive and cause violent behaviors especially to weaker inmates and the staffs. In the end, it would require that the assaultive group of prisoners is put in other jails within the prison as a way of separating them from others. Hence, the guards are subjected a lot of work and risk their life working in an abusive environment. It is also difficult to maintain order and assure safety to other prisoners.
Situations where inmates are subjected to solitary confinement as Honey (2008) describes are likely to contribute to mental illness. Solitary confinement refers to having the prisoner excluded and confined in a solitary place away from others but within the prison. Officials in the prison argue for this move as the best one to ensure that the prisoner gets the good behavior to live among others. However, the cell is small and only contain a mattress, a toilet, and a sink. As the article describes, food to such inmates is brought via a door slot and they only get one hour of exercising while in the cage. Although staying in the cage is supposed to take only a day or 2, the supermax case is extreme as the inmates go for several weeks. In this case, mentally, this process has a negative implication on the health of the prisoner (Honey, 2008). Most of the prisoners subjected to such condition become acutely suicidal as they developmental syndrome that features aspects like lack of impulse control, overt paranoia, thinking difficulties and they are often hypersensitive to the external environment. These are aggressive characters that the inmates develop which extensively turns such a prisoner into a toxic person that can harm others. Occasionally, some the prisoners develop the inability to exercising steady responses and others develop obsessions that render them dangerous and uncomfortable when they get to mix with other normal groups (Honey, 2008). Thus, solitary confinement is among other kinds of prison abuse that have bad implications not only for prison workers but also other people outside the prison where the affected inmate mingles with after serving a jail term.
The prison officials that are required to control the correctional prisons are subjected to different conditions that are not favorable. Policies, rules, and conditions they are subjected to are not good for their health. Supermax prisons are run by extraordinary security isolation, control and they often lack both in-cell and out-cell activities and programs that lack justification on the grounds of security (Honey, 2008). The prison staffs are forced by officers to abuse the inmates even with those that are not dangerous. Besides, for the case of the dangerous prisoners, the environment at most supermax prisoners are completely harsh and totally degrades their life. Under some conditions, there are extreme conditions such that they may be taken into houses that lack windows and be denied some of the services that they should have while serving their prison sentence. Overall, the nature of how the prison staffs are forced to engage in harsh activities creates frictional relationships between the prisoners and the guards. Further, there is a mistrust relationship created where the guards are viewed as dishonest in their activities. This creates an intense feeling that is dangerous especially in difficult time. Such an environment is dangerous as it is likely to break into a toxic one following an outbreak, for example, prisoners may gang up to attack prison guards as an act of revenge (Honey, 2008). Finally, staffs that are notorious for abusing prisoners are likely to face legal consequences once they are investigated and found guilty. Some may end up being poisoned and their services terminated because prison abuse is unlawful.
Alcohol/ substance use have strong relations to criminal behavior. According to Sung, Richter, Vaughan and Foster (2013), they confirm the strong statistical relationship between the use of illegal drugs and criminal activities. Their research is convincing. However, it is the difficult making conclusion with regard to the link between the cause – and – effect existing between these phenomena. Their study examines that drug use contributes to one engaging in criminal activities. However, this research ignores the fact that someone’s living conditions can also become the major cause of crime. As a result, a variety of concerns exists with regard to alcohol/substance abuse as the cause of crime among people (Sung, Richter, Vaughan and Foster, 2013). One major concern is that use of alcohol and drugs bears a negative influence on the life of a person, his or her family relationship, relationship with the community and friends. Some of the drug users become a burden and they are often at risk of engaging in crime. Most of the substance abusers account for about 80% of the people implicated in different offenses that include failure to observe traffic rules, domestic violence, public-order offenses, and drug offenses, among others (Sung, Richter, Vaughan and Foster, 2013). Considering that alcohol is largely legalized in many countries, it has a strong role particularly in the drug abuse with relation to crime activities. Most of the violent crimes in the U.S., cases of rape assault, spouse and child abuse that occur each year are attributed to people who are under alcohol. In fact, almost 50% of the homicide activities result from drinking (Sung, Richter, Vaughan and Foster, 2013). Hence, alcohol is a prime factor in all the violent activities especially in the circumstances where both offender and the one being attacked know each other.
Another concern is the substance abuse and crime behavior relate in a complex way and there is no full understanding as to whether when people use drugs are likely to engage in crime. At the same time, there is no understanding as to whether people who engage in drug abuse are already criminals. The reason of this complex relationships emanate from the fact that many people that abuse illegal drugs rarely engage in other crimes and many criminals do not engage in drug abuse. Nevertheless, at the prime level of drug abuse, there is direct and high correlation existing between the use of drugs and criminal activities. In this case, it is shown that those that seriously engage in drug abuse have high chances of being perpetual criminals. Besides, notable criminal activities can be categorized under the following three aspects:
- Economic-related crime, which are crimes that involve individuals committing a crime so that they can get money to buy drugs. Common types of this crime include prostitution and theft.
- System related crime, which often relates to the drug abuse system structure. Some of these include manufacturing, production, and transportation, among others like violent activities that involve the sale of drugs.
- Use-related crimes, that are crimes that involve individuals in criminal activities because of the drug abuse effect on their thinking and overall behavior.
Essentially, it can be shown that most crimes that emerge as a result of drug abuse are often those related to the need of the abuser to feed their substance abuse. These crimes are the light ones. There are many other criminal activities that are not related to the use of drugs. In this case, therefore, it is not possible to absolutely conclude that alcohol/ substance abuse is a cause of criminal behavior.
However, drugs should be regarded as a contributor to one engaging in criminal behavior. This will give room to have other factors such as individual life and other economic challenges to be examined. However, it is possible to provide a lasting solution for people that are addicted to drug abuse because they stand the high chance of committing crime than others. One solution is by investing in treatment and the recovery process of the victims of drug abuse (Sung, Richter, Vaughan and Foster, 2013). Most people who are imprisoned for committing the crime as a result of being under drug abuse rarely get treatment in spite of meeting the required criteria. It should be understood that people serving prison sentence will eventually come out especially if they are not under a life sentence. Treatment and ensuring that these people recovery from drug abuse is important towards preventing future crimes and re-arrest. Through treatment, they are given the most important alternative instead of leaving them still addicted as they will soon engage in crime thereby interrupt the cycle of justice (Sung, Richter, Vaughan and Foster, 2013). Addiction is not a permanent condition because studies show that many recovers and they can lead a normal life and be active and productive members of the society. At the same time, subjecting these people to treatment helps the country to save money spend in installing criminal systems for the purpose of incarcerating the offenders. Families and community comfort are also improved when those that are addicted to drugs get to heal and start leading a normal life (Sung, Richter, Vaughan and Foster, 2013).
Honey, C. (2008). A Culture of Harm: Taming the Dynamics of Cruelty in Supermax Prisons. Retrieved April 26, 2017, from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0093854808318585
Sung, Richter, Vaughan and Foster (2013). Special needs offenders in correctional institutions. Thousand Oaks: SAGE.