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Lecture

CRM 2306 Lecture Notes - Argot, Indep, Jargon


Department
Criminology
Course Code
CRM 2306
Professor
Kate Fletcher

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Criminal Culture or Penal Adaptation?
The Existence of a Prisoner Subculture
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
Are ppl importing the preexisting criminal values they have on the outside, into prison?
OR is the criminal subculture an adaptation to the pains of being imprisoned?
Culture studies
Diff btw cultures and the subcultures with subcultures within it are the sets of ideas
Subcultures take the ideas from the culture and alter them in some way
Cultures are defined by a value system
Subculture: “takes its norms from the larger culture, but turns them upside down”
Prison Life
Normative culture: official rules, standards enforced within prison
The norms values, belief system that facilitate the operation of the prison
itself
Standards we feel ppl should be abiding by
How we feel the institution should be run
Prison subculture: indep values, lifestyles, expectations, language
Both work simultaneously and govern behavior of those residing or working within
that place
Prisonization socialized into the subculture
Many say that high levels of prisonization, leads to recidivism
You become so used to that way of life that it becomes difficult
Affected by:
Age: you went in and come out
Length of sentence
# of stays: each time you go back in you have to adjust each time
Attachment to outside: social ties; if loving outside life, try not to get
involved in prison subculture
Inmate Code
Sykes (’58), Sykes & Messinger (’70)
Provides prisoners with sense of cohesion, solidarity, and a front against the
institution that’s why it develops
The Code of Behavior of the Subculture
Don’t interfere with interests of others: (most important) don’t rat
Don’t lose your head: remain emotionally invulnerable allows cohesion in group
Don’t exploit inmates: don’t rip them of
Don’t weaken: want to be invulnerable; maintain autonomy
Don’t be a sucker
Informal Rules of Social Control
Cooley (’92): Less formal rules than Sykes
When you went inside you figure them out quickly cuz they help everyone get along
Do your own time: mind your own business; don’t ask questions, go about day/time
Avoid the prison economy: high interest rates and potential to get hurt
Don’t trust anyone
Show respect: Hierarchy
Informal rules that allow the subculture to maintain social control
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