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Keith Li

Dr. Jason Peters



Impact of PPublic Issue in Prison Condition Commented [MOU1]: This title lacks precision. What
public issue about prisons will this essay address?
“I've seen more men masturbate than I can count”, says TaLisa J. Carter, a deputy

corrections officer in Savannah, Georgia. , iin her article The Horrors I Endured as a Female Jail

Guard. Published by VICE in collaboration with The Marshall Project, the article recounts

TaLisa’s traumatizing experience working as a corrections officer. After graduating from an ivy

league university, TaLisa chose to become a correction officer, taking shifts in four units housed

with male inmates. However, when she saw the first male inmate performing “that kind of

misconduct”, she was overwhelmed and even questioned her decision of working in the

criminology field. As TaLisa recalled, “all the while I was thinking: How the hell did I end up

with this job?”(Carter). Talisa’s perspective is quite different than that of the public; The

impression of a prison to most civilians are violence, chaos, and essentially, a lack of respect.

What. The lack of respect that TaLisa experienced is common in the context of a prison, but they

are not just in the form of masturbation. In most cases, the prison staff are also “locked up” in the

concrete block full of aggression and sadness that are caused by the poor conditions the prisoners

are being situated. Therefore, TaLisa’s story shows us that unacceptable prison condition are not

only detrimental to the inmates, but they also and have causes negative effect on the general

public like the prison staff even the general pulicon the prison staff.
There has been an increase in the incarceration rate in the United States. According to

David M. Bierie, “the United States reached a milestone as 1 in every 100 adult citizens now

resides behind bars”, and one in three Black males born in 2000 will serve a prison term in his

lifetime”(Bierie). With an increase in the incarceration rate, there is certainly a proliferation of

negative impacts on in the society. The cause can be traced to the conditions of a typical prison:

aggressive noise levels, cluttered or dirty space, and lack of privacy (Bierie). At the same time,

there is a wide variation of unacceptable prison conditions in the States, but in most cases, they

are harsh physically and mentally. For instance, some argue that “stripping inmates of TV,

weights, and other amenities will create a specific deterrent effect, thereby reducing

recidivism”(Bierie). The approach of taking away entertainments will not only cause internal

effect on the personal lives of the prisoners, but also create negative tension between the inmates

and prison staffs, causing the correction officers the scapegoats in this situation. Furthermore, the Commented [MOU2]: The purpose of this paragraph isn’t
totally clear. Its emphasis is on the poor treatment of
prisoners, but you attempt to connect back to the effect of
inhumane physical conditions are created not for living but torturingin an inhumane way in some that on the staff as well. However, you don’t discuss those
staff effects at all, you merely say that the effects are there.
cases too. In one jail in Pheonix, the administrators “allow inmate housing areas to reach Maybe narrow the purpose of this paragraph to simply
describing examples of poor treatment of prisoners, and then
in a subsequent paragraph you can offer a more substantial
temperatures above 130 degrees Fahrenheit during summer”(Bierie). This intentional torture to discussion of how that affects prison staff.

the inmates is immoral and unacceptable. From physical harm to mental illness, the

consequences can be bad,. In a research determining mental illness of a population of prisoners

in a jail in Australia, “43% of those screened had at least one of the following diagnoses:

psychosis, anxiety disorder, or affective disorder. Twenty percent (20%) of all prisoners had

suffered from at least one type of mood disorder and 36% had experienced an anxiety disorder”

(Tony, Stephen, David, Dale, Christine, 2005). In conclusion, there is a deterioration of

prisoners’ mental health compared to the general public, and this statement is in contrastthe

contrary to the definition of a prison given by Dirk van Zyl Smit, where prisons are institutions
that protect the public from the prisoners by keeping captivity of them and eventually returning

them as “citizens who will lead crime-free lives”(van Zyl Smit). And according to Jerry Metcalf,

this is not the case.

Jerry Metcalf was incarcerated in Thumb Correctional Facility in Lapeer for second-

degree murder and he believes, “prison is all about ‘normalizing’ abnormal behavior” where he

had been addressed with an ID number, and receiving physical checks naked. On top of those,

Jerry had experienced a wide variety of harassment; he states that, “I’ve been stabbed, cut,

clunked, almost raped”(Metcalf). The bizarre experience from Jerry implies that the prisoners are

disconnected with the reality and absolutely not being prepared to be sent back to the society.

With a system that creates harsh conditions and deteriorating health conditions, prisoners

somehow lose their own dignity through the correction process; thus only reflects disrespect to

the general public and prison staff.

Although the correctional officers are not exposed to the harsh conditions so explicitly as the Commented [MOU3]: They don’t physically experience the
harsh treatment, but they are exposed to it just by being there
and being responsible for it to some extent.
inmates, they experience the same, poor condition because they are working in the same

environment as the prisoners. The physical condition of a like clutstered space and being

exposed to foul language and behavior is shared among the staff and the inmates. Additionally,

the correctional staffs are obligated to complete their tasks and perform on-site practices such as

body examinations and safety monitorings. The obligations definitely increase the pressure to the

work of the officers. In the 2007 “Prison Social Climate Survey, a questionnaire administered

every October”(Bierie), a sample of prison staff are being asked questions like, “How Often have

you had a feeling of worry about your family? How often have your personal worries bothered
you?” (“How much privacy do you think inmates have had in their housing units?” and “How Commented [MOU4]: These questions focus on prisoner
treatment. Can you find any research on the emotional or
psychological effects of being a prison guard?
noisy do you think it has been in the inmate housing units during the

evening hours?”(Bierie). By assessing their response to those questions and assessing days of

absence due to sickness and administration, the researchers believe the results implies that their

work productivity can be improved with the prison condition(Bierie). Furthermore, the intense

intereaction between the prisoners and the staff can also cause mental illness for the correctional

officers, A random sample of correctional officers had completed a questionnaire for diagnosing

mental illness related to stress, where“Correctional employees demonstrated high levels of PTSD

symptoms, burnout, and stress, ”and “violent interactions with inmates lead to experienced

trauma of all types (PTSD, secondary, or vicarious trauma)”(Boudoukha, Altintas, Rusinek,

Fantini-Hauwel, Hautekeete). In conclusion, the prison staffs need more attention in terms of

their interaction among the inmates and the working environment.

Some may say that the myriad conditions is “what they deserve”, but this is not an issue about

the prisoner; it is about everyone else in the society. The point of prison is not to create a

luxurious residence for those who caused negative impact on society, but to maintain a healthy

environment for the prisoners in order to have them preparedprepare them for the broader

society. As Metcalf stated, “Better people exiting prisons means a better society. Worse people

exiting prisons means a worse society” (Metcalf). It is widely believed that one being mentally ill

will not benefit the society in any way; thus sending the prisoners who are traumatized by their

experiences behind the bars will only further damage the society. . It is not a personal issue with

the inmates, but a broader societal concern. Even if the prisoners are released from jail, their

lives will be determined by how we respond to the situation of released prisoners. As Metcalf
expressed in the article, most of them are not able to find a job after their time; thus causing

recidivism of crime, forming a negative cycle.

As a person with genuine sympathy, it is important for me to observe and experience reciprocal

respect. The relationship between the inmates and the prisoners are like teachers and students,

the purpose of a prison should not be deterred by poor conditions. The idea of living in a friendly

and comfortable environment is crucial to one’s well-being, where security and freedom are

maintained at balance. However, there are those who went the wrong way in their lives for

various reasons, thus ended up in a place where the balance of freedom and security is off-set, in

a place where freedom is set to be zero and security is set to be the maximum. The incarceration

of those who have made mistakes can be justified as a way to give them time to rethink that one

moment of their life that caused the one critical action. The idea is not to humiliate those with

problems and but rather give them the opportunity to be freed in their own mind while their

physical body chained to prevent further violation before the mind is totally freed.


This is a thoughtful focus on an aspect of incarceration that gets too little attention: how prison

conditions might constitute inhumane working conditions for the staff themselves. Most of your

evidence, however, details the treatment of prisoners. Your reasoning is basically that the guards

must be negatively impacted by administering or otherwise witnessing this treatment, and that

this is having further detrimental impact on society the longer it goes on. But we are lacking key

evidence about those impacts on the guards themselves. I imagine, for example, that there may

be research in criminal justice and prison reform that have identified the existence of anxiety,
depression and PTSD among prison staff as a result of their work. Finding such evidence would

make your argument very compelling indeed.

Work Cited

Metcalf, Jerry. “All the Strange, Terrible Things You Get Used to in Prison.” Vice, Vice, Formatted: French (France)
2 Mar. 2018, www.vice.com/en_us/article/9kzva3/all-the-strange-terrible-things-you-get- Field Code Changed
used-to-in-prison. Formatted: French (France)
Bierie, David M. “The Impact of Prison Conditions on Staff Well-Being” vol.56, no.1, 1 Feb. Formatted: French (France)
2012, pp. 81-95 https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X10388383

Boudoukha, Altintas, Rusinek, Fantini-Hauwel, Hautekeete. “Inmates-to-Staff Assaults, PTSD

and Burnout: Profiles of Risk and Vulnerability”, vol.28, no.11, 1 Jul. 2013, pp. 2332-

Butler, Tony. Allnutt, Dtephen. Cain, David. Owens, Dale. Muller, Christine. “Mental
Disorder in the New South Wales Prisoner Population” Australian & New Zealand
Journal of Psychiatry”, vol 39, no.5, 1 May. 2005, pp. 407-413
Formatted: French (France)
Carter, TaLisa. “The Horrors I Endured as a Female Jail Guard” VICE, VICE, Marshall
Project, 8 Feb. 2018, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/59kgjd/the-horrors-i-

Butler, Tony. Allnutt, Dtephen. Cain, David. Owens, Dale. Muller, Christine. “Mental
Disorder in the New South Wales Prisoner Population” Australian & New Zealand
Journal of Psychiatry”, vol 39, no.5, 1 May. 2005, pp. 407-413

Van Zyl Smit, Dirk. “Regulation of Prison Conditions”. vol.39, no.1, 2010, pp. 503-563.

Metcalf, Jerry. “All the Strange, Terrible Things You Get Used to in Prison.” Vice, Vice,
2 Mar. 2018, www.vice.com/en_us/article/9kzva3/all-the-strange-terrible-things-you-get-

Bierie, David M. “The Impact of Prison Conditions on Staff Well-Being” vol.56, no.1, 1 Feb.
2012, pp. 81-95 https://doi.org/10.1177/0306624X10388383