#SaturdaySchool: Prison Culture in the United States

I asked a man once if he had done any “hard time” in prison; he looked at me and slowly responded as he shook his head at me. “It’s all hard time in there.”

“prison art” credit Thousand Kites

“prison art” credit Thousand Kites

Prisons in this country aren’t benefitting society overall. A lot of innocent people end up in prisons and so do non-violent offenders. The detention of these individuals is an unjust violent punishment. (In case you weren’t aware, violence is the ruler of prison culture.) Violence begets violence, and those who were non-violent prior to an incarceration are permanently imprinted with the violence acted upon and around them while in prison. Violent offenders in prisons don’t often find rehabilitation or healing. Prison culture in the United States is not about providing for a safe society. In fact, prisons make us unsafe because of the violence they reproduce inside and outside of their walls.

Human rights violations of all kinds still take place American prisons and across the globe. Labor and sexual abuses of prisoners is particularly frequent. In most prisons, mental and physical health is rarely attended to adequately.  At the same time, prisons are often the only access people with mental health issues have to healthcare.  Harris County Jail in Houston, Texas, for example is the largest mental healthcare provider in the state.

These aren’t places that improve people — these are places that merely punish. Privatization lobbyists push to keep prisons full and making them money, and often exploit the rural economic devolution that’s occurred over the last thirty years. Prison Towns, as they’re called, rely on the continued incarceration of people for their own survival. The links between economic prosperity for small towns across the United States and the high rates of incarceration breed conditions that are responsible for some of the most severe abuses of labor and human rights.

Understanding the depth of prison culture in the United States is not easy. The complicated networks of economic and social reliance make prisons an integral and large part of our society. Use the resources below to inform yourself and others about the abuses and inequalities built into American incarceration practices.

 What is #SaturdaySchool? Click Here to Find Out

Learn About U.S. Prison Culture:

U.S. Prisons in the News

 

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