Prison Conditions

in 4 Reforming Criminal Justice: Punishment, Incarceration, and Release 261-293 (Erik Luna ed., 2017)

UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 18-11

34 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2018 Last revised: 25 Mar 2018

See all articles by Sharon Dolovich

Sharon Dolovich

University of California, Los Angeles - School of Law

Date Written: March 19, 2018

Abstract

In American prisons, two of the worst pathologies — hypermasculine performance and gang activity — are best understood as strategies of self-help engaged in by people who cannot trust the prison authorities to keep them safe. Given the choice, the overwhelming majority of people in prison would prefer to drop the mask and be themselves. But letting down one’s guard is a luxury enjoyed only by people who feel safe. If we want the people we incarcerate to grow and change, we need to design and operate the prisons so that people can be in company with others without needing to be constantly afraid. In this chapter, I identify several strategies prison administrators can pursue in their facilities right now to reduce the threat of violence in men’s prisons and therefore enhance prisoners’ safety without resorting to solitary confinement. But keeping people safe while enabling them to interact with others, though essential, is not sufficient. It is also necessary to provide access to meaningful pursuits that can give individual prisoners a sense of purpose. Only then will people living behind bars be able to fully step away from the culture of the prison and reorient themselves in a healthy, pro-social, and productive direction.

Keywords: prison conditions, prison reform, prison violence, prisoner safety, prisoner interaction, hypermasculine behaviour, gang affiliations

Suggested Citation

Dolovich, Sharon, Prison Conditions (March 19, 2018). in 4 Reforming Criminal Justice: Punishment, Incarceration, and Release 261-293 (Erik Luna ed., 2017); UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 18-11. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3143837

Sharon Dolovich (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

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