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Prison Community and the Deprivation of Liberty Lecture Notes from February 5th

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University of Ottawa
Justin Piche

February 5, 2014 Discussion Question • What social processes influence your identity and how does your identity influence your behavior? When you find yourself in different social contexts with different people, places, etc are you always the same person? • Way meaning occurs is through interaction • Context is important when understanding why people act the way they do • What is it about the prison that prevents the achievement of the rehabilitative system? Goffman (1961) Total Institutions Defined • “Their encompassing or total character is symbolized by the barrier to social intercourse with the outside that is often built right into the physical plant, such as locked doors, high walls, barbed wire, cliffs, water, forest, or moons.” Characteristics of Total Institutions • All activities take place in one location under one authority • Authority = the warden top prison official within the institution itself • All activities take place in groups where members are treated similarly • Members= prisoners with numbers, similar dress, treated according to the same rules within that context • All activities are imposed and take place according to a strict schedule • From the moment the members wake up till they go to sleep all their activities take place in certain intervals. A basic rhythm • All activities are enforced to meet stated institutional objectives • Punish to rehabilitate. Put them to work. • Everything that happens through that lens are justified according to the objectives Mortification Process (I) • “The recruit, then, comes into the establishment with a conception of himself made possible by certain stable social arrangements in his home world. Upon entrance, he is immediately stripped of the support provided by these arrangements… he begins a series of abasements, degradations, humiliations and profanations of self. His self, is systematically, if often unintentionally, mortified.” • Being processed at intake. Process estranges them from themselves. Mortification Process (II) • Role Dispossession • When you go into a total institution you are dispossessed of your roles • Physically cannot have these roles that you once had in society • Programming/Training • Being shaped into a completely different person • Will-breaking Contests • Can involve physical punishments to break-down resistance • Learn your new status. Bottom of totem pole • Dispossession of Property • Losing one’s identity kit • Personal Disfigurement • Can refer to physically being disfigured • But personal, such as adopting postures • Verbal Humiliation • To define your roll • Learn how to talk and interact with authority figures • Taking on Disidentifying Roles • Taking on roles that outside prison context you would never take on, which goes against your sense of self • Contaminative Exposure • Idea that your space is always being violated • Experiential Mortification • Seeing violations of yourself and other people on a regular basis • Not something that is normal in most social contexts • Restrictions on Autonomy and Freedom Consequences of the Mortification Process • Institutionalization • Loss of self-determinization • Relying on others for basic necessities • Self-esteem issues • Loss of sense of self • Self-loathing • May assault yourself mentally and physically • Stress • Identity being under constant attack • Fight or flight response The Privilege System • “…consists of a relatively few components, put together with some rational intent, and clearly proclaimed to the participants. The over-all consequence is that cooperativeness is obtained from persons who often have cause to be uncooperative.” Components • House Rules • There are rules in place • Privileges • If you don’t follow house rules your privileges can be suspended • If you follow the house rules your privileges can be added • Punishments • Punishments if you don’t follow the rules to make you follow them • Made to force the person to cooperate with the process that is about basically erasing their identity and their selves/sense of selves Some Lines of Adaptation Types of Adaptation Characteristics Situational Withdrawal • Physical and psychological withdrawal
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