Serving Hard Time In American State Penitentiaries



I felt a cold prickle of fear as the hairs on the back of my neck sharply stood at attention, goosebumps overtook my body, I shivered. I cautiously looked around. I was blinded by the intrusive lighting, the bright white walls, and the bars that stood in the way of my freedom. My heart beat thrummed like the wings of a caged bird. Time dragged by. I stiffened as the mighty steel gates opened, offering me a life time opportunity at a glimpse inside prison life. I trembled. Was I ready to step outside the perceived safety of my own world and enter the intricate and dangerously fascinating realm of prison? I hesitantly took a few steps forward as the heavy gates slammed behind me; I was locked inside a world with some of the most dangerous men in the United States. As my tour group ventured further into the depths of the Colorado State Penitentiary, my fascination with the prison realm grew immensely. With each vulgarity that was shouted, with each beady lifeless eye I made contact with, with each life I saw virtually dissipate before my very eyes, i began to question who are the men inside the supermax prison? What did they do to get here, to be locked up for twenty three hours of the day? What does the future have in store for them? As if reading my very thoughts the superintendent bellowed “behind these cell walls are the worst of the worst prisoners, they are the men who continue to break rules and cause chaos and destruction in general population. Their mere presence constitutes a threat to the security of the operations of prison. These men are responsible for the ruthless violence inside prison, these men have sadistically murdered other inmates, they have assaulted guards putting the power and safety of the prison in jeopardy. These men generally have strong gang affiliations and are willing to do anything to get ahead or challenge the authority of the penitentiary.” The superintendent went on explaining how the men inside the CSP must pass through different levels which are structured around harsh punishment and rigid control before they are released back among the general population. He noted that the prisoners in the supermax could be locked away in isolation for months or decades before they are released to general population. I asked the superintendent “what is the fate of these men confined to isolation?” He said some of these men will be locked away in solitary confinement for the rest of their lives, but most here are doing hard time, which are lengthy prison sentences that constitute well over the average of 4.4 years served by most prisoners. He explained that these “hard timers” will be released from solitary confinement once they have successfully passed all three levels within the CSP. Then they must serve the rest of their sentence in general population, before they are released back into society. Once they are released into society, there is a strong probability that over 67% of them will return to confinement. It is highly likely that most of the men sentenced to lengthy prison sentences will spend the rest of their lives in and out of the correctional facilities. I was baffled. I will never forget the images I saw, the stories I heard, nor the fear I felt the day I went on the tour of the prison facilities in Canyon City Colorado. I was compelled to learn more about these prisoners doing hard time and the effects it had on the individual being confined, and society as a whole.
In 2007 the United States prison population grew to 1.6 million people behind bars; for the first time in the nations history more than 1 in 100 American Adults were behind bars (NY Times). Recent reports state that the United States prison population has grown to 2.3 million (The Pew). In 2007 the United States spent 44 billion in tax dollars on corrections, reports claim that this will rise to about 60 billion dollars by the end of the fiscal year of 2011 (NY Times). What is all this money going to? Who are the people locked up behind bars? As more money and people get put into the correctional facilities, people on the ‘outside’ grow an increasing fascination to what life is like on the inside of prison. This is demonstrated across the media where one can find numerous shows depicting prison life. Such shows include Prison Break, Hard Time, Scared Straight, Oz, and Prison Nation. However fascinating prison life appears, it is pivotal to understand the detrimental consequences lengthy prison sentences have on the individual imprisoned and society. Prisoners serving extensive sentences, which is also referred to as “doing hard time” (Lock Down), psychologically change for the worse when they are locked away from society for decades on end. According to the Colorado Department of Corrections the average prison sentence is 4.4 years. There is a grave difference between a prisoner doing an “average” sentence of 4.4 years and one doing hard time, serving a decade or longer. Doing hard time significantly changes a person, “it hardens them, leaves them hopeless, it corrodes the human heart, it turns men into monsters” (Harper). As mentioned earlier, the “hard time” prisoners are not the only ones who suffer from lengthy prison sentences, society as a whole is effected as well, for it has to bear the burden of all the money spent on correctional facilities and their prisoners. It cost $22,632 dollars a year to house one prisoner (Just Answer). With over 2.3 million people behind bars, that totals to well over 44 billion in tax dollars. In hard economic times, like we are currently in, the negative effects of the states increased spending on corrections can be felt nation wide. A prime example is in Colorado. In September of 2010, one tower of the CSP 2, which was just built, was opened. This cost 10 million in tax dollars (Casella). As Colorado faces strict budget cuts, one institution that is constantly jeopardized due to this colossal spending on corrections is higher education. USA Today reports that if “tax revenues do not rise to close a budget gap of 1 billion dollars then higher education could face a budget cut of over 300 million dollars, this would be on top of the 150 million dollar cut which was sustained in the 09-10 fiscal year”. Consequently this results in teacher layoffs and steep tuition increases, making college unattainable for students in lower socioeconomic classes. As funds are taken away form higher education and allocated towards other institutions like penitentiaries, it becomes important to examine the invisible but substantial and expanding population of those locked behind bars. This study examines devoted gang members who make up the core of the prison realm, who are doing hard time, and will most likely be in and out of prison for the rest of their lives. Specifically this study investigates how doing hard time caged inside prison for ten years of longer warps and changes the prisoners into hardened unsympathetic monsters full of hate. This is displayed through the tattoos found on the bodies of convicts doing hard time. These tattoos represent a life of violence and corruption, a loss of humanity, forever detaching the convicts who bare them from society. To better understand the site of analysis an overview of prison life is presented through the eyes of the prisoners and guards within in the penitentiary. Statistics, testimonies, documentaries, interviews, personal accounts, experiences, and real footage have been collected through this study to help explore the depths of prison. Following the overview of prison life, the significance of tattooing within the prison culture will be examined. Then three key theories will throughly be analyzed and discussed in relation to the significance of tattooing inside of prison. Margo Demello’s theory on the convict body will be analyzed to explore how prison tattoos help define and create the convicts new sense of identity, legibly marking their allegiance to a life of abhorrence and barbarity. Tajifel and Turner’s social identity theory will be used to evaluate the detrimental consequences of how prison is strictly structured around race, and what this means for inmates doing hard time. Then Becker and Lemert’s concept of the labeling theory in criminology will be introduced to depict how hard time convicts intentionally label themselves through their tattoos, which delineates how they have purposefully ostracized themselves from society and committed themselves to a life of violence and hatred. Finally I will analyze how convicts doing hard time, extensive sentences, actually embody prison which is displayed through tattoos on their living canvas; the flesh. This embodiment of prison turns men into hardened convicts lacking empathy, fueled by hate, perpetuating a cycle of violence and crime, eternally separating the convict from society. This perpetual cycle of violence and hatred the convict finds himself in, which results in his dehumanization and ultimately his utter demise as he forever bars himself from freedom, first begins when he is convicted of a felony and sentenced to ten plus years in prison.
“Legs spread. Hands against the wall.” are some of the first words newly convicted felons hear upon entering the “doors of hell” at the beginning of their journey into prison. Before long each new prisoner will be forced into a world where hatred and evil triumphs, creating brutally racist environments where gangs thrive. In the past decade the number of inmates entering into the penitentiary doubled totaling to a population of over 2.3 million prisoners. In California every day over 200 new felons enter into the violent prison world (Lockdown), and each one of them is subject to “a full cavity search probing every part of every inmate” (Lockdown). Every scar, tattoo, and birthmark on each inmate is recorded. Their dignity, respect, and identity are stripped away from them. Every inmate is deduced to a CDC number and nothing more. Before any new inmate is allowed to enter general population, they are screened by a committee. Inside this committee the most important component that is analyzed is the prisoners race. Almost contradicting the outside world, the societies inside of prison thrive off ones race. Equality is forgotten. Segregation is the norm. The prison culture subsists on hatred, it glorifies race creating an atmosphere of brutality and ferocity similar to the times before the civil rights movements. Since race is such a significant factor inside of prison the committee must review various aspects of the prisoners life, like gang affiliations, ethnicity, and beliefs before placing him into a “pod”. Typically there are various pods within prison, generally named “A” “B” “C” “D”. The committees job is to place prisoners within these pods specifically based on traits like race and ethnicity; one wrong placement could result in the immediate death of a new prisoner. Once the specific pod is selected for the prisoner he is then released into the general population of that pod which can consist of 3400 other prisoners. Once inside general population the new inmate must quickly begin to build his reputation, redefine who he is. As of now his record is his resume, his skin color and markings are his only identity. It is every man for his own inside of prison forcing a new prisoner into only one of two options: join a gang of go at it alone. The later often results in rape, beatings, and death. “In prison it is strength in numbers” (Hard Time) and since the internal structure centers around strict racial lines gangs thrive. Although reports claim that only one in ten men in American Prisons joined a gang upon arrival (NGCRC), accounts from prisoners and prison guards tell quite a different story. “74.9% of prisons report that they have rules strictly prohibiting gang recruitment among other inmates, yet 94.2% of inmates and officers report being aware of inmates joining a gang while incarcerated” (NGCRC). Convicts interviewed on Hard Time claim that “gangs run everything, there’s people whose not members but in some way shape form or fashion everyones affiliated”, even an officer admits that 90% of the prisoners are involved in gangs. Men who are entering the penitentiary who are not involved in street gangs on the outside decide to join a gang within prison for protection and to help them feel like they are apart of a community with a network behind them for support. By joining a gang the new prisoner must adhere to the racist ideologies that fuels the hatred within prison and dominates the societies. In prison race is everything consequently each square inch of the prison is divided into strict turfs, where crossing an invisible border can cost someone his life. Once an inmate becomes a member of a gang, he must build his own reputation. “Inside of prison there are only two types of people: predators or prey, vikings or victims” (Maximum Security). It is now up to the new prisoner to define who he is, show his strength, his hatred, his potential. The inmate must prove himself. This is generally done through fighting, stealing, or trading services. The prisoners final task in forming his new identity is defining himself as either an inmate or a convict. The main difference between the two is respect. “A convict after having everything taken away from him still has respect, and inmate doesn’t he is a model prisoner, he bows down to the man” (Demello). Convicts are the ones that truly run the underworlds of the prison. A correctional officer at Canyon City said that the model inmates are generally the killers and the rapist. “They just want to do their time and get out. They are model inmates, easy to deal with. The real trouble comes from the gangbangers” they refer to themselves as the convicts. Behind bars the convicts “live for the hustle and to break the rules” (Lock Down), this stimulates a very dangerous environment. The convicts live by the “blood in blood out” gang ethos of the street, “they dominate the drug rackets, illegal sex trade, illicit food business, gambling, and tattooing services” (NGCRC). Convicts run the prison world, they are the ones with hefty often life long sentences. While imprisoned these men are exposed to raw violence and hatred, they are subjected to ruthless beatings and savage rapes. Gerald McCullough an inmate inside one of California’s prisons simply says “prisons are hate factories”. With so much hatred and hostility prison scars the inmates, especially the convicts. Convicts use tattoos to help heal old wounds and declare their new hardened identity. These tattoos display how the convicts are forever changed. In a world where not caring about consequences and breaking the rules is respected tattoos identify the convicts as fearless. “Each new tattoo a convict receives in prison represents his committment to the gang life and his bravery in challenging the prison system” (Locked Up). Within the prison culture, tattoos are strictly prohibited. Prisons operate around absolute control. “When convicts alter the image of their body they are openly defying and disrespecting the authorities, proving they run the show” (Hard Time). Prison tattoos also risk spreading infectious diseases like HIV, AIDS, and hepatitis C through the use of unsterilized needles and amateur machinery, another reason why they are strictly prohibited. However, convicts live to break the rules, defy the system and engage in risky behaviors so the consequences of being caught or getting an infection does not phase them. In fact it makes the appeal of getting prison tattoos much stronger. There are multiple methods of getting tattooed in prison, the most common way is when the convicts put together amateur tattoo machinery from random parts of their own belongings, like the motor of electric razors or toothbrush, mechanical pencils, needles, and ink from pens. In prison, tattooing is the second best hustle, it is highly respected, and the markings are of extreme importance. The significance of tattoos in prison is displayed by the trouble the convicts are willing to go through to get them. Receiving a tattoo in prison is a long process with harsh sanctions, like 2 weeks in the hole, if they are caught. There is a tremendous risk of getting a detailed and beautiful tattoo within prison. The more detailed it is, the longer it took, making the whole process more risky. The meticulous “tattoos convicts receive in prison boast his ability to break the rules, they are worn as badges of pride” (Prison Nation). These badges of pride demonstrate to other prisoners and the guards the convicts triumph over the system. Each marking of each tattoo displays the convicts defiance to the guards, it voices his dis-respect to the entire prison establishment, “it is his mockery at their attempt to punish him, to deny him of all his freedoms” (Prison Nation). When one is stripped of all his freedoms, it becomes vital for some to defy every aspect of their capturer. For when they act with great defiance and resistance towards their capturer they are clearly letting it be known that they will not succumb, “they will not bow down to the man” (Hard Time) or become institutionalized by the rigid rules or their lack of freedoms. By defying the system, these inmates have become convicts, they have overcome. They have challenged the system and they have won. This notion of winning fuels their fire, it constitutes their new identity as a convict, a fighter, a warrior, a winner. One guard at a high security prison in California testifies to this: they are “the rulers of the prison world. This is their home and I just work in it, there is no questioning they run the show. So be it, at the end of the day I get to go home and they are stuck here, caged in, rulers of their own barbaric world (Maximum Security). Although these convicts have been locked away in a place void of freedoms , through defying and resisting they have been able to formulate new identities which has allowed them to , in a sense, reclaim some of their freedoms. By refusing to abide by the rules or adhere to the absolute control of the prison, these convicts are able to establish their own society, one in which they are the rulers, they hold the ultimate power, “they run the game” (Locked Up). One of the most common and significant forms of resistance inside of prison is when a convict receives a tattoo.
Tattoos on the convicts bodies convey many messages, they narrate the story of the convicts journey. The most significant tattoos among the convicts body are the one’s he received in prison. These tattoos represent the convicts resistance to the system, his strength, his power, and his affiliation. The tattoos on a convicts body tell who he is, what he has done, and where he has been. Clock faces without hands represent doing time. Tombstones with numbers on them signify the number of years he was locked on the inside. Spider and cobwebs on the elbow or shoulder represent doing time for murder, and tears near the eye represent each prison term served or a man he killed in gang warfare. Most of the tattoos that cover the body are dedicated to the gang one belongs to inside of prison, because the gang he is affiliated with completes his new identity as a convict. The tattoos one receives inside of prison hold the most significance, they have special meaning on the inside and back on the streets. When a convict is in prison and has had all his freedoms stripped from him, his body becomes the only thing he can claim as his own, use to define who he is; his body becomes a canvas, a testament of power, respect and personal freedom. His body becomes his only weapon of resistance against the system. The tattoos convicts receive in prison allow them to reclaim their body as their own and help establish their new identity. This identity usually centers around allegiance to a gang. Prison gangs use tattoos as means of denoting identity and affinity. Since prison gangs are strictly divided among race, the tattoos the convicts receive in prison depict the racial battlegrounds they live in and signify the racist ideologies they have come to live by. It is common for white men to get giant swastikas on their chests and backs or SWP “Supreme White Power” tattooed on their neck or knuckles. “Convicts in the Mexican Mafia gang get large M’s tattooed to their body and other symbols that clearly denote that they are apart of that gang, like a large black hand with M in the middle, or the national symbol of Mexico (eagle and a snake) atop a flaming circle over crossed knives” (Prison Nation). These gang tattoos proclaim the convicts individual allegiance to a group in a way that is permanent and deeply personal, because it is “forever” written on the body itself ( Goldberg). The gang and dangerous lifestyle that accompanies it becomes so much a part of the convict while he is in prison, that it begins to define who he is, it replaces his old identity with a cold hardened fearless new one. The tattoos covering the bodies of the convicts are graphic testaments of their new identities, and they forever bar them from society.
The tattoos a convict receives in prison convey his new sense of identity. This identity is framed around hate, ethnic boundaries, and fearlessness. “When you have nothing to lose and everything to gain you become unstoppable” (Maximum Security). The tattoos convicts receive often portray this sense of being unstoppable. For example convicts generally get their tattoos in very visible locations. Some of the most popular areas to get tattooed are on the face, neck, and hands. The grandiosity, and racial components of many of the convicts tattoos, and their highly visible locations truly separate the them from the outside world affirming their new identity as a convict. This is significant because such visible tattoos convey the convicts complete disrespect and resistance to the system. It shows they are in charge, they “own” themselves, and are not subject to the arbitrary rules of prison. After spending many years analyzing the prison culture and “tattoo community” Margo Demello who specializes in sociology, cultural studies, and anthropology offers key insight on how prison tattoos help to define and create the convicts sense of identity in relation to the prison establishment, and thus creating “the convict body”. The prison tattoos that define and create the convict body are ones of hate and destruction, for example giant swastikas cover large areas of white convicts bodies. These vile execrable symbols pledge the convicts allegiance to his own race, and spits hatred at all who are different. The giant skulls, weapons, and vulgarities like “Fuck the World” tattooed on the convicts bodies illustrate the convicts new identity. An identity of hatred and corruption. An identity that lacks compassion, and parallels the degenerate violent environment of the prison in which they are enslaved. To Demello, the physical body serves as a site on which gender, race, and class are symbolically marked, thus “tattoos create the cultured convict body which creates and maintains specific social boundaries” (Demello). This cultured convict body is depicted through the convicts tattoos that have a strong ethnic affiliation which clearly establish who they pledge allegiance to, separating themselves from those who are different, legibly marking their social boundaries. Besides showing defiance and risky fearless behavior, which define the convict body, tattoos in prison are about creating a sense of community, a common culture. By clearly marking ones alliance to a particular race based gang, each convict is able to identify with a specific group and differentiate himself from all who are different. “This helps an inmate bring meaning to his life, it gives him a purpose. By committing so deeply to a particular gang, the convicts new identity begins to form” (Prison Nation). Identity formation in prison is particularly important because their original identity has been stripped from them. Without an identity, who are you? No one. This is why gangs are so crucial to convicts, they help them to reform their identity, they give them something to stand for and a code to live by. Demello claims that the act of tattooing itself, inside of prison, serves to create the convict body. “The convict body through its tattoos incorporates both the context of imprisonment and particular affiliations” (Demello). The convict body and the tattoos that encompass it would not exist without the gang the convict belongs to. It is the ethos behind each gang that help the inmate answer the question who am I?
Belonging to a group helps one derive a sense of identity in relation to that group, it helps one answer the question “who am I?” One way to enhance that identity is to make comparisons with groups that are dissimilar from ones own. This idea is the simplification of Tajifel and Turner’s Social Identity Theory, which can be seen irrefutability behind the bars of prison. In the Social Identity Theory a person has not one personal self but several, along with multiple social identities. One’s personal selves and multiple social identities differ based on the different social contexts one is in, as well as the “individuals self-concept derived from perceived memberships of various social groups” (UT). What happens though when one must faithfully devote himself to one particular group? What happens when a man is exposed to only one social context, allowed to pledge allegiance to only one social group and interact with no others but his own, or face grave consequences? This is what each prisoner is subjected to inside of prison. For protection and sanity they must devote themselves to their own gang. Consequently this leads to extreme in-group out-group separation. In order to strengthen their bond, and raise the status of their gang, convicts completely distance themselves from all who are different. Since gangs inside of prison are based upon one’s race, convicts proudly highlight their ethnic and racial differences from rival gangs, fostering a brutal environment of hatred. To further distinguish themselves from other groups, gang member heavily tattoo their bodies with their ethnic affiliations, permanently separating themselves from those who are different. This is deleterious, because that tattoos reinforce the racial segregation inside of prison, and it embeds racist malice thoughts inside the minds of the convicts, so they are forever tainted, scarred beyond repair by thoughts of hatred. The tattoos on the convicts bodies are scars that depict their hardened lifestyle. The convicts embrace these scars, choosing to indelibly label themselves as hardened, dangerous, cruel, fearless convicts with nothing to lose.
For most of history tattooing has been associated with unlawful behavior and punishment. In the early Roman years, slaves and criminals were tattooed as a way of identification. Criminals living in Japan from 300-600 C.E. were tattooed as a form of punishment for their crimes, in the Mediterranean region during third century C.E. criminals were tattooed with symbols indicating crimes they had committed; sometimes the victim’s name was tattooed onto the offender foreheads (Goldberg). During these times, tattoos were used to shame and humiliate the criminals, to condemn and stigmatize, to marginalize and outcast. They were negatively labeled by society, and forced to endure the consequences of that label. This illustrates Becker and Lemert’s concept of the labeling theory in criminology. The labeling theory “portrays criminality as a product of society’s reaction to the individual” (Eb.com). If a man commits a crime, he is then labeled a criminal and consequently acquires a criminal identity. This is still true in today’s criminal justice system, however there is one prominent difference; the criminals in today’s society are embracing their deviant convict label, in fact, they are glorifying it. Instead of hiding in the shadow of their negative label, the convicts feed off of it, they promote it, they use it as a source of pride rather than shame. The tattoos imprinted on convict’s bodies were not imposed on them, they were chosen as a mean of glamorizing and honoring their nonconformist delinquent way of life. By embracing these negative labels, through their blatant use of tattooing, the convicts are warding off society. “Through the subversive bodily act of tattooing, the convicts reestablish authority over their own body which challenges the system which attempts to control it” (Demello) rendering society’s judgements upon them as trifling. The convicts who bar themselves the furthest from society are those serving long sentences inside the violent prison realm.
The most distinctive, dangerous, menacing, group of convicts behind the bars of prison are those doing hard time. These are the men who are doing 10+ years, or life sentences. Today, “140, 610 prisoners out of 2.3 million are serving life sentences, that is one out of every eleven prisoners” (NY Times). Who are these men that will never taste the sweetness of freedom again? Who are these men that are said to be America’s most dangerous, the worst of the worst? These are the true convicts, the thugs, gangbangers, cold blooded killers. These are the men at the core of the prison culture; they relish in its hatred, they spark race wars and riots they will do anything to survive, to prosper. “These men have adapted to their environment and became what they thought they would never become” (Prison Nation). These are the men who are covered in tattoos, which displays their permanent allegiance to their life as a convict. These are the men who have been caged up so long, they no longer have any other “selves or social identities” they know nothing of love and compassion, they live and breathe hatred, they have embodied the institution of prison. This embodiment is depicted through the narratives that their tattoos tell and their cold sadistic views and attitudes. One prisoner in the CSP said “I have noticed a sense of hopelessness. I don’t think I will ever leave. Plus my anger has gone to a silent rage. It is like they want to build a killer (Spunk.org) One convict doing a life sentence said “prisons changed me a lot its opened my eyes its given me a cold heart. I don’t care about things and people that I use to. This place has hardened me” (Hard Time). Another prisoner Oran Brumley also known as the godfather of Ross Correctional Center has done four decades in prison and counting. Brumley has been in and out of the system since he was twelve. He knows nothing other than the life of violence and destruction that he lead. At the end of his interview he said “if they let me out today I would be in your house tomorrow. I don’t know nothing else. I’ll honestly say if they keep you in this prison for more than ten years they should never release you” (Hard TIme). When people are locked away for long periods of time they change drastically. Time warps them into completely new people. These men are literally rotting away behind bars, they have no ambitions, they are full of hostility and vexation, and they have nothing to lose. “Therefore they have everything to risk, which makes them immensely dangerous” (Maximum Security). One convict serving only five years in a maximum security prison explains how people doing hard time “go looney man, most them in there aint never gettin out, so what the hell do they car about killing ya? It don’t mean nothin to them” (Maximum Security). Another prisoner inside the CSP said “check out any caged animal and you will see what happens in prison. People come in here with a few problems and they leave sociopaths. Isolation causes people to become bitter, angry, and disassociated from reality. They become worse people” (Spunk.org). It is terrifying to think that this specific population, the “hard timers” are the secret society, the leaders of the gangs, controlling all the operations within prison. If their chilling testimonies aren’t enough their tattoos forever inscribed against their flesh foreshadow the rest of their story.
The convicts doing hard time are literally covered head to toe in ink. Tattooing becomes a part of writing their own story behind bars. The longer a convict is locked up for, the more prison begins to define him, thus the longer his personal narrative becomes. Each symbol on the convicts body represents something: loved ones on the outside that have forgotten him, time he has been locked up, his dedication and loyalty to his gang, his brotherhood, the obstacles he has overcome in prison, like riots or stabbings. When the symbols and words on the convicts body are put together into a story based off their meaning, they foreshadow a ghastly future. Being locked up for so long, has forced them to adapt to a vile remorseless environment and consequently they are forever changed. The images across their bodies parallel directly to their psychological state of mind. As their skin is eternally changed, marked for life their mind is as well. What’s to come for these prisoners as they march slowly to their deaths? Is it possible that an earlier intervention when they first arrived in prison could have saved them from such chaotic self destruction? Or are these convicts simply “screw ups” in society that were destined to kill, fight, and hate? Do they crave in the pits of their souls such violence to occur? Is it best to have them rot away as our tax dollars get guzzled up by their medical bills rather than funding institutions of higher education? These questions remain unanswered. The current model for incarceration is punishment. It is not to rehabilitate or to help rebuild the community ties, it is strictly to punish and serve vengeance. Perhaps if the penitentiary model focused equally on punishment and rehabilitation, those doing hard time would not embody prison and all its evils so deeply, leaving the convicts with some hope and ambition for the future.






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