The prison experience
Securely designed institutions that allow for control over all aspects within:
o Includes control of movement, activity, possessions.
o Controlled by the state.
o Deprivation of liberty.
o Abolition of death penalty means prison is the most severe punishment
Removal of chronic, dangerous and repeat offenders from society in an effort
to control crime.
The prison is used today as a kind of reservation, a quarantine zone in which
purportedly dangerous individuals are segregates in the name of public safety.
Varying levels of security.
o Age limits (Juvenile detention).
o Gender (women’s prison).
Integration into community.
o Custodial: to detain people who are awaiting trial.
o Coercive: to enforce other sentences that have not been compiled with
o Punitive: as a punishment in itself.
Why we have prisons
Seemingly the sole aim of many prisons is incapacitation:
o By removing offenders from society they are incapable of committing
o Also should stop them from committing crimes from each other.
Can be linked with the decline of the welfare state (greater emphasis on the
individual) and increasing polarisation of law and order politics.
o Punishment as an expression of society’s disapproval for criminal acts.
o It should make life unpleasant for those who made life unpleasant for
Prisons established to deter whilst at the same time a term of imprisonment is
intended to be reformative.
Symbolic message that behaviour is not tolerated (deterrence).
o Intend to reform offenders through various means:
Rehabilitation and substance-abuse programs.
Education and training.
Does incapacitation work
o Because it is hard to get out – security checks, constant monitoring,
etc. Stops further crimes from being committed.
o Bureau of Justice Statistics (US) published Sexual Victimisation in
Prisons and Jails:
Identified that prisons and jails in the US that have high rates of
inmate-on-inmate sexual victimisation and staff sexual
4.4% of prison inmates.
2.1% of prison inmate-on-inmate sexual victimisation.
2.8% of prison inmates reported staff sexual misconduct.
More rapes in prison than in the rest of society (America).
In Australia, both consensual sex and sexual assault are less
common than is generally believed.
o Assault rate (Australia):
Prisoner on prisoner – 8.2 per 100 prisoners.
o Serious assault rate (Australia):
Prisoner on prisoner – 0.6 per 100 prisoners.
0.9 per 100 in Vic.
o Hard to measure.
o Prison doesn’t always reform people.
Prisons in Victoria
4884 prisoners in 2012.
o 111.7 people in prison per 100,000 of adult population.
o 18.6% increase in the last 10 years.
14 prison facilities in Victoria:
o 11 publicly operated.
o 2 privately operated.
o 1 transition centre.
o Sees imprisonment as a breach of human rights.
Abolition of all or part of the prison system.
Self-reproducing form of violence.
Degradation and rejection of human rights.
Factors that affect the prison population
Millie - Prison growth has been the result of a number of factors including:
o A more punitive climate of opinion.
o A more punitive legislative framework.
o Sentencing guidelines that counteract leniency.
o Some changes in patterns of offending.
o Sentencers perceptions of changes in patterns of offending.
Trends in prison populations:
o Dominance of male prisoners.
o Lower SE class.
o Low level education. o Substance abuse.
o Overrepresentation of Indigenous people.
Prison population – characteristics:
o Approx. 60% of prisoners have been there before.
o Approx. 70% have ongoing problems with drugs and/or alcohol.