Rigid Rules Influence Prisoners

One of the reasons prisons rock with violence, gang pressures, and corruption is because the rigid controls extinguish hope. Prisoners live inside the boundaries with a continuous pressure. Granted, most of the prisoners brought that discomfort upon themselves through their criminal convictions. While locked inside the prison boundaries, however, the prisoners adjust to the culture […]

Incentives Would Lessen Lure of Prison Gangs

Kassandra Fraga commented on my article entitled Prison Reforms Can Help Solve Gang Problems. She wondered whether I thought most prisoners would take advantage of opportunities to earn incentives rather than succumb to gang influences. Kassandra also asked how I thought prison gangs would respond to those who pursued incentives. My experience of living in […]

Media Attention May Promote Prison Reform

Television networks have begun broadcasting shows that bring the ugliest aspects of the prison culture into American living rooms. Shows like Lockdown, Maximum-Security, and Inside America’s Prisons perpetuate the stereotypical images of the prison yard. Those shows focus on the failure, the gangs, the tattoos, and the violence. I am convinced that lobbyists who represent […]

Prisons Fail to Prepare Prisoners for Society

A noted historian named David Rothman wrote in his book, Asylums that prisons were total institutions. Those of us who live in prisons must function within the rules and policies that prison administrators set. Prisoners do not necessarily abide by all of the rules and policies, though they must function within them. For example, prison […]

How I Avoided Prison Subcultures

Prisons are like mini communities, totally separated from the wider society. Those who live inside find cultures that differ in remarkable ways from the America that most citizens know and love. In what I call the real world, citizens strive to reach their highest potential. People earn respect by working to educate themselves, by contributing […]

Extortion Targets in Prison

I received a letter from a reader who asked whether other prisoners had ever extorted me in prison. The answer is no, I have never succumbed to extortion. That does not mean prisoners have not tried. I spent the first 16 years of my sentence inside higher security prisons. When I was locked inside the […]

Seeking Protection in Prison

Protective custody, known as PC in prison parlance, is a choice that can have severe consequences for any prisoner. In minimum-security camps, it is not a valid concern as these types of institutions are no more volatile than a corporate office park. Yet in higher security prisons, where there are gang influences and threatening prisoners, […]