Crime, Punishment, and Life in Prison
Definitions of prison:
A place confinement of persons in lawful detention, especially persons convicted of crimes
A place or condition of confinement or forcible restraint
A state of imprisonment or captivity Get help with your essay from our expert essay writers...
Why do many people end up in a prison cell?
There is no straight answer to this question. There are many reasons why there are so
many prisoners in the world today, and to each crime there is a motive. This could be
drug related, money related, gang related, marital breakdown or even from a person
that has suffered mental and physical abuse in the past. The only person that knows
why a crime is committed is the criminal him/her self. As much as we try to
understand how a criminals mind works, we can never be sure, but mostly relates to
violence, as Michel Foucault says: 'All human behavior is scheduled and programmed
through rationality. There is a logic of institutions and in behavior and in political
relations. In even the most violent ones there is a rationality. What is most dangerous
in violence is its rationality. Of course violence itself is terrible. But the deepest root
of violence and its permanence come out of the form of the rationality we use. The
idea had been that if we live in the world of reason, we can get rid of violence. This is
quite wrong. Between violence and rationality there is no incompatibility.' He tries to
explain that even though there is so much violence in world today, it can be removed.
Example of how a criminal is infiltrated to be put behind bars
An example of a motive would be the Mafia. Their motives to kill are to earn respect,
to control areas, to become a major force in the world, and to own as much as they
can. An example of how mafia are in prison is of Joseph Pistone AKA Donnie
Brasco. Joseph Pistone was an undercover FBI agent that infiltrated the Mafia, which
led to over 200 indictments and over 100 convictions. It also meant that even though
his mission was over, Joe Pistone never again became Joe Pistone due to the $500,000
price tag that the inmates had put on his life(taken from the novel my life in the
Mafia). Even behind bars, the Mafia inmates still have a powerful impact on society.
There are many other organisations which have members behind bars that still
manage to operate with the outside world. As money talks, this could have something
to do with Police either being bribed, or too afraid for their lives.
Our views on life in prison and injustice
The way that society view life in prison is influenced through movies and through
reality TV shows e.g. programmes on reality TV and bravo. Movies only
show the viewer what they want to see. Many movies about prison have no care to
show the viewer how prison is really like. For example The movie Mean machine.
The movie shows that the life of a prisoner is not even punishment. Yes they are
being watched everyday, but its shows that they have the liberty to do whatever they
please. In some ways it does portray the life of criminal gangs i.e. Mafia. Triads etc,
but it does not meant that every inmate lives like this. In some cases, the legal system
really lets the victims down. An example of this would be the death of Jamie Bulger.
2 year old Jamie Bulger was kidnapped at a shopping mall by Robert Thompson and
Jon Venables, both aged 10. they brutally murdered him. Even thought they were
children, their sentencing was not a fair hearing. In prison, they have used around 2
million pounds of taxpayers money, enjoying the luxuries that many people cannot
afford. They have had their names changed, education paid for etc. If this is the life of
a criminal then that could be a reason there are so many prisoners- an easy life behind
Many prisoners do show some compassion. For example a paedophile or child killer
does not usually get any sympathy from inmates. For example, Ian Huntley was too
afraid to leave his cell due to the threats made to him about his crime. this led to
A prisoner longs for the things that he/she had on the outside, and sometimes the only
way to achieve this is by joining a prison organisation and doing the things that
change their lives. Quote by Eldridge cleaver ““In prison, those things withheld from
and denied to the prisoner become precisely what he wants most of all.”
There are many prisoners that write an autobiography of life in prison to tell the
society today how prison life is and is it really as cool as the movies make it out to be
e.g. Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams.
Has the way that prisoners live their lives today behind bars made them less fearful of officials, causing many to carry on with crimes?
I believe that a prisoner’s life has changed due to technology and due to the fact that
they do not live like prisoners any more. 24 Surveillance means that prisoners are
being watched throughout the day, but when a camera is not on them, anything
happens. A prisoner only needs a few seconds to commit a crime, and most never get
caught due to surveillance on other prisoners or distractions. This is mainly due to
gang warfare, mainly between different races. In prison, gang leaders demand respect
and will usually stop at nothing to get it. An example of Gang warfare would be the 6
major prison gangs that are nationally recognised in the USA:
- Neta-Puerto Rican/American/Hispanic gang
- Aryan Brotherhood- Caucasian gang
- Black Guerrilla Family- Black gang
- Mexican Mafia- Latin/Hispanic
- La Nuestra Familia- Mexican/American
- Texas Syndicate- Mexican American
These gangs cause chaos among prisons in America. It is mainly race against race. An
example of this is the breakout that happened on 14th February 2006, where a race riot
broke out in a California prison involving more than 400 hundred inmates, with
around 20,000 continuing in prisons around the country. These riots were controlled
by a Mexican gang leader who ordered an attack on blacks. This shows what an
impact one man can have on hundreds. It also shows that even though modern
technology is being used, there is still a way around it. 1 inmate died and many
However saying this, there is evidences which show that at least one gang leader
had seen the error of his ways. This would be Stanley ‘Tookie’ Williams.
He was the Co-founder of the Crips gang La, and realised after 16 years on death row
that prison life is no life. He set out to make youth understand what kind of life that
crime leads up to and wrote a book about it called ‘Life in Prison’ which tells us of
how he lives his life behind bars. His work to end gang warfare within youth earned
him a Nobel peace prize.
‘My greatest hope is that the lessons the stories offer will help you make better
choices than I did.’ These are words he uses to warn youth not to follow in his
footsteps. He wrote numerous letters to youth, explaining to them not to turn their
lives to crime but to, “Learn about computer technology, politics and the sciences.”
He also made an apology to the youth of the United States and Africa for what the
creating the gang saying that he was no longer “dys-educated" (disease educated).
I was his mission to warn and deter youth away from crime, and it earned him
nominations for the Nobel peace prize, as well as a motion picture which was made
about his life. Unfortunately, and against much protest, he was sadly executed by
lethal injection in 2005. It shows that even though a man can influence so many lives
for the good, he will always pay for his past.
How is technology used by/for Criminals?
Due to modern day technology, many criminals are using this technology to their
advantage to commit sophisticated crimes. A technology related crime today would be
the credit card scam; chat rooms, or receiving person’s details through the
internet. The internet is a one of the most ways that crimes are committed. These are
through chartrooms- where many paedophiles lure youth through lies and deceit,
pornography, hacking into another’s computer and offensive emails to name some.
A lot of work goes into protecting underage youth from being seduced in a chartroom
by a paedophile. No matter how much can be tried, the problem never goes away due
to the rapid development and progression of technology today. We are shown about
prison life through movies, documentaries, and websites. These influence our lives on
what prison life is really like, and that’s how close we will get to that unless we
become criminals ourselves.
Due to the modern day technology, a prisoner can be monitored 24 hours a day
through surveillance. This makes it easier for the guards. It does however invades an
inmates privacy, but to maintain order and any corruption, this has to be done. Many
released prisoners have computer chips or electronic tags on them so that they are
monitored and located all the time. I believe that this is a very good system, as it does
not show leniency to those that have escaped prison, but no the punishment.
I believe that through the ages and due to economic changes and technology, prison
life has become too easy. Today, a prisoner is given too much leniency. The reason
being is that while inside many prisoners would like to change their lives around, but
many also use it as an advantage to live a life of luxury. I believe that this is wrong as
there are so many honest people in the world that cannot afford to live the life that
prisoners can afford to in the modern day which could be a reason why criminals
believe that prison is not necessarily a terrible place it used to be.
The biography of Eldridge Cleaver
Redemption- Motion picture
Michael Foucault- truth is the future
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