Prison violence is a daily occurrence due to the diverse inmates with varied criminal backgrounds in penitentiaries. The three different types of attacks are inmate on inmate, inmate on guard, and self-inflicted. These attacks can either be impulsive and spontaneous or well-planned out and premeditated. Factors such as gang rivalries, overcrowding, minor disputes, and prison design contribute to the violent attacks that transpire. Prisons are trying to avoid, or at least better deal with these situations by being proactive. They are taking steps like placing violent convicts and gang leaders into solitary confinement, balancing the cells by critically examining each inmate to see where they are likely to reside peacefully, reducing blind spots, and training as well as educating the officers.
Prison violence is inflicted onto either another inmate, a prison guard, or themselves. In 1999, it was reported that one in five inmates, or twenty percent of inmates, at fourteen state prisons had been physically assaulted by another inmate. Prison violence can consist of inmates fighting with their fists, homemade weapons, or being raped. The attacks that are implemented onto anyone but the self are either instrumental or expressive.
Prison violence is capable of occurring anywhere throughout a prison. Any inmate is capable of acting rash and snapping at any given moment, that an outbreak can occur anywhere and at any time. Oftentimes, an inmate will look for a place that offers a sufficient amount of time to commit their act proficiently. If they are outside of their cell, they have the chance to smuggle out a homemade weapon by placing it up their rectum. Although these acts can occur anywhere, a very common place inmates search for is a blind spot.
Prisons are covered with guards standing watch, CCTV, or a combination of the two. Neither of these can possibly cover every inch of a prison’s ground, which is why “…blind spots…allow inmates to conceal illicit activity from security staff”. Therefore, inmates purposefully look for these blind spots to commit violent acts undetected by prison guards. The inmate’s goal is to know that they are going to be able to complete the act of violence to the degree that they desire without guards noticing and intervening. Inmates look for places that give them more time to complete their attacks.
The perpetrators of violent attacks are convicted criminals, some of whom in prison for committing crimes that left multiple people brutally beaten and left for dead, so violence is in many of these individual’s nature. These people, “…settle disputes and seek power in the way they are accustomed- through violence”. This natural fire in their bellies is undoubtedly a huge factor that goes into why prison violence occurs, but the physical design of the prison can serve as another factor. A prison can either have indirect or direct supervision. Both types of supervision have their strengths, but also detrimental weaknesses.
Indirect supervision is when a correctional officer is placed in an enclosed booth and must constantly watch over the inmates through a bird’s eye view. The physical interactions that officers have with the inmates is minimal, for most of the communication comes through an intercom system. Inmates are placed in their own cells and officers have physical barriers to ensure their own safety. When havoc is wreaked, a call for a response team is placed over the intercom. This type of supervision is strong, but has some drawbacks, such as the creation of blind spots. These are created through indirect supervision because the guards standing watch can have objects blocking tiny spots or they may just not be looking in the right direction at the right time. Indirect supervision is an impersonal and more distant form of supervision that helps with officer safety, but leaves blind spots for “…inmates to conceal illicit activity from security staff”.
Direct supervision is a more personal type of design because officers are assigned a cell block to patrol. Through this layout, the guards actually speak to cellmates one-on-one. The minor altercations that take place throughout the day is directly handled by the patrol officer, but this single officer cannot prevent a violent attack from happening. As soon as their back is turned or their attention is focused on someone else, the perpetrator can still commit their violence. In this form of supervision officers are left more vulnerable, but it also leads to, “…decreased tension and stress of staff and inmates…”. Direct supervision is more of a hands-on form of management, where “…major incidents are not as numerous and minor incidents result in higher numbers…”.
Overcrowding is a huge problem many prisons face  because handling so many short-fused inmates at once can lead to many altercations. The combination of “…overcrowding, inadequate supervision, and inmate access to weapons- can create opportunities for…offenses”. Trying to assert authority and strict rules on these violent offenders is extremely difficult due to the fact that these people do not respond well to restrictions and being told what to do. Having to focus on so many dangerous people at once is just not possible because there will always be someone not being watched over at any given moment; this is most likely when inmates choose to strike. Overcrowding is a very common issue in American prisons that leads to prison violence because the prisons will be understaffed.
Prison violence and prison suicide in England and Wales have been increasing year on year while staffing levels have been falling. Reduction in the number of staff is blamed for this and the Ministry of Justice has admitted that staff cuts are a factor. It was felt urgent action was needed. The government has provided money for increased staff but staffing levels are set to remain below 2010 levels.
Mark Day, of the Prison Reform Trust spoke of a “hidden emergency unfolding in our prison system” and said increasing prison violence should not become the new normal the lives of people living and working in prisons depended on that. Frances Crook, of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said:
Cutting staff and prison budgets while allowing the number of people behind bars to grow unchecked has created a toxic mix of violence, death and human misery … Today’s figures show that we cannot wait for legislation – bold and radical action is needed now to stop the death toll rising further.
Most inmates look to get into an altercation armed with some sort of homemade weapon. The weapons they use to attack their victims are made to be very destructive and can easily be both hidden and accessed. They use objects such as shanks, clubs, daggers, razors, and saps to serve as weapons. A shank is a homemade knife, and is used to stab the person they are planning on fighting with, typically created by sharpening a common object. Clubs are considered “…objects such as pitchers, hot pots, and broom handles…”. They are put into use by throwing or hitting their target with these objects. A sap is typically a padlock enclosed in a sock, but really any hard object can be placed inside. Their prey is hit, typically over the head, with this weapon. Razor blades are very commonly used to commit prison violence. When an inmate knows there is a possibly of facing an attack, they will often place razors inside their mouths (in their cheeks) so that they can spit the razor out of their mouth and slash up the other person’s face. Since this tactic has been caught onto, many times a person will first punch whomever they are fighting in the face so that if a razor is in there, their whole mouth will get cut up. An inmate can choose the shank, club, dagger, razor, or sap as their weapon of choice to either do harm or protect themselves. When it comes to creating these weapons, prisoners really do serve as craftsmen and make weapon-making into an art of the sort.
The prison store, supplies provided by prisons, and objects visitors bring are typically where the weapon creation process begins. They get a hold of items, “…such as disposable razors and toothbrushes”. Then, these materials get manipulated and transformed into a weapon of destruction. They may sharpen it or harden it using other items. In other instances, “Items that appear innocuous have been converted into weapons”. Inmates also use everyday items in their natural form in dangerous ways that is clearly not used as they were originally intended. Often, when an inmate uses this form to create their weapons, it is used on officers because the items do not look questionable so it is easy to catch the corrections officer off guard. Some will, “…fashion the metal post of a bunk bed or the edge of a cell door into a spear…that could be flung from inside a cell and penetrate a man’s neck or liver”, which is called the bone crusher. Some inmates will go to great lengths to create weapons and many different ways to create these weapons has been discovered.
Officers call prison gangs STGs, or security threat groups. These groups are highly dangerous and take part in a huge majority of attacks that occur in prisons. Originally, “The early formation of STGs was based on racial/ethnic ideologies and protection from other groups. Later they developed the intent to commit acts of violence and form crime syndicates”. These gangs’ sole purpose is to have control and dominance, which is gained through violent attacks. Often, these attacks are committed onto rivals and people issued in the Bad News List. The Bad News List can be presumed as a factor for prison violence. This list is circulated among a gang and once a name is found on this list, it is inevitable that they will be attacked. A person is typically place on the Bad News List if they, “…stole from an affiliate on the outside, or because you failed to repay a drug debt, or because you’re suspected of ratting someone out”. The people on the list will be attacked on sight, but once their debts are paid, they are immediately removed from the Bad News List. Most, if not all, gang prison violence is instrumental and is very intricately planned out. Gang members will often send out or receive encoded, in depth letters on violent attacks that are ordered to take place, other times, “…gang members used the drainage pipes of their in-cell toilets to communicate clandestinely across cellblocks…”. It has become clear that, “Extensive communication systems coordinated between inmates, criminal activity, and street gangs are common”, and a vast majority of the prison violence that occurs begins with these communication systems. Security threat groups are at the heart of many of the altercations that take place within prison walls and they remorselessly commit these vicious acts simply because they are ordered to do so.
Inmates often feel animosity and a sense of hatred towards prison guards due to the treatment they receive and the power the guards have over them. In 1999, more than 2,400 correctional officers required medical attention after being assaulted by an inmate, and according to a 2002-2003 study, most guards were assaulted through the use of clubs. Along with these clubs, inmates tend to use weapons of opportunity when attacking an officer. A weapon of opportunity is any typical, everyday object that is not considered a weapon until used in a destructive way. The reason for this hostility, and ultimately inmate attacks on guards can be placed onto the way the incarcerated are treated.
Inmates are often humiliated and have extreme force placed upon them. There are no excuses that can be made in an officer’s offense to defend these actions, unless their life was put into jeopardy. Implementing these uncalled for actions reasonably cause animosity between the inmates and guards. There are cases where if an inmate disobeys an order, “…groups of officers…approach his cell, dressed in protective gear and armed with shield, Tasers, and other weapons. If the inmate refuses to comply, the officers will flood his cell with chemical agents…they have reportedly thrown stinger grenades, which spray rubber pellets into a concentrated area…and violently subdue him”. Correctional and Detention personnel use force as a last resort, in the above scenario; entry into an inmate's cell would need to be necessary before force could be justified. For example, if an inmate has a court hearing and has barricaded himself in his cell, refusing to come out or comply with the officials orders force might be used. Another instance would be if the inmate needed to be transferred to another facility and refuses to comply with the directives to move.
Preventing all prison violence is an impossible task because it is impossible to be prepared for any and every situation. Nevertheless, prisons are taking measures to avoid, or at least limit, this violence. They are doing things such as balancing the cells, reducing blind spots, and training officers. When prisons receive new inmates, they search the background of the individual; they look into things like any possible gang affiliation and any history of racism or anger issues. After piecing this information together, the officers will place them in a cell block that they feel is most appropriate and that will cause the least arousal between the new inmate and the ones already housed there. Reducing the blind spots is a difficult task to complete because it is impossible to watch every inch of the prison at once, but by watching over as much as possible at a time does reduce the chances of violence occurring. Training officers is the third measure being taken. If officers treat the inmates properly and not be rash and assert violence on them so quickly, the inmates may feel more respected and not look to retaliate. Also with the training, officers are learning how to deal with minor altercations more effectively, as in without force and violence unless necessary. Also, the correction officers are learning about the psychology of the inmates. These officers are becoming aware of the psychological differences and hardships the incarcerated tend to face and how to properly deal with them. If all of these precautionary measures are taken, then prison violence rates can definitely lower, although completely vanishing is something not likely.
A supermax is a separate facility within a prison where inmates are placed, “…for violent/predatory behavior within other institutions. They may be identified as gang leaders, or considered high risk for escape. Inmates incarcerated in the supermax facility do not have the freedoms allowed inmates in general population because of their security status/institutional disciplinary record”. These inmates are placed in a cell for twenty three hours a day and have limitation than the typical convict possess. This prevention measure works because it takes the biggest threats and influences, such as gang members, out of the picture. An issue that arises with this is that, “…some prisoners subjected to isolation become so damaged that they pose a renewed threat to staff and inmates when they return to the general prison population”. This means that the already dangerous and threatening inmates can return to the regular prison population with a new, stronger desire to retaliate and cause prison violence. The supermax facility serves as a good method to eradicate the influence of the most dangerous of inmates, but risks the return of a vengeful inmate.
A prison riot occurred at the CERESO state prison in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico, on March 4, 2009. During the riots, at least 20 people were killed and 15 were injured. Although a police spokesman stated that no police or jail guards were killed during the riots, the Red Cross said that two policemen had been killed. The riot was a fight among several rival gangs, the "Barrio Azteca," "Los Mexicles" and "Artistas Asesinos" (AA).The riots began at roughly 7 AM local time (2 PM UTC), and lasted for about two hours. 14 members of the Aztecas "subjugated" a prison guard with knives and stole the guard's keys. The gang then opened several cells, releasing 170 prisoners. The prisoners forced their way into an area where members of the Mexicles and AA were meeting with family and friends during conjugal visits, and attacked them. During the riots, prisoners set blocks of prison cells on fire, stabbed each other with knives, or were beaten. Other prisoners used rifles and iron pins as weapons. In addition, some prisoners were thrown from the second story of buildings. Two of the 20 prisoners died at a local hospital, while the remainder died in the prison.At least 50 members of the Mexican Army and 200 police were deployed to end the riots. An airplane and two helicopters were also used to quell the violence. Earlier in the day, 1,500 troops began entering the city in an effort to reduce drug-and-gang-related violence, which, over the last year, took the lives of 2,000 people in Ciudad Juárez.2018 in Brazil
Events in the year 2018 in Brazil.Altamira prison brawl
The Altamira prison brawl was a deadly fight that occurred on 4 January 2012 in Altamira, Tamaulipas, Mexico. Officials from the state of Tamaulipas confirmed that 31 people were killed, with another thirteen injured. The fight started after a drug gang burst into a section of the prison where they were banned from, attacking their rival gang housed there, triggering the fight. During the altercation, the inmates used several kinds of cold weapons (non firearms) to kill their opponents. The prisoners also used sticks and knives to massacre the members of the rival gang.Alejandro Poiré Romero, Mexico's Secretary of the Interior, pledged to work with the state of Tamaulipas. In addition, the United Nations condemned the massacre and asked for the National Human Rights Commission to "monitor conditions of detention throughout Mexico."Anilingus
Anilingus (from the Latin anus + -lingus, from lingere, "to lick", variantly spelled "analingus",) is the oral and anal sex act in which a person stimulates the anus of another by using the mouth, including lips, tongue, or teeth. It is also called anal–oral contact and anal–oral sex; colloquial names include rimming and rim job. It may be performed by and on persons of any sexual orientation for pleasure or as a form of erotic humiliation. Health risks include fecal–oral transmission.Anne Piehl
Anne Morrison Piehl (born November 13, 1964) is an American economist and criminologist. She is a professor of economics at Rutgers University, the director of Rutgers' Program in Criminal Justice, and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She joined Rutgers as an associate professor in 2005, and became a full professor there in 2012. Also in 2012, she became a fellow of the IZA Institute of Labor Economics. Her research interests include prisoner reentry programs and prison violence.Comando Vermelho
Comando Vermelho (Portuguese for Red Command or Red Commando; Brazilian pronunciation: [koˈmɐ̃ŋdu veʁˈmeʎu]) is a Brazilian criminal organization engaged primarily in arms and drug trafficking. The group was formed in 1969 when a collection of ordinary convicts and left-wing political prisoners were incarcerated together during the military dictatorship of 1964-1985 and formed Falange Vermelha (Red Phalanx). In the early 1980s the group changed its name to the Comando Vermelho and is said to have lost its political ideology.The Comando Vermelho controls parts of Rio de Janeiro and has fought several small-scale conflicts (in 2001 and 2004) with the rival gang Terceiro Comando which itself emerged from a power struggle amongst the leaders of Comando Vermelho during the mid-1980s.The organization is a collection of independent cells rather than having a strict hierarchy, however prominent bosses include Luiz Fernando da Costa, Isaias da Costa Rodrigues.In late June 2007, Rio de Janeiro police launched a large-scale assault on the area where up to 24 people were killed. According to a study by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro's Violence Research Center, in 2008 the group controlled 38.8% of the city's most violent areas, down from 53% in 2005.Craig Price (murderer)
Craig Chandler Price (born October 11, 1973) is an American serial killer who committed his crimes in Warwick, Rhode Island between the ages of 13 and 15. He was arrested in 1989 for four murders committed in his neighborhood: a woman and her two daughters that year, and the murder of another woman two years earlier. He had an existing criminal record for petty theft.Price calmly confessed to his crimes after he was discovered. He was arrested a month before his 16th birthday and was tried and convicted as a minor. By law, this meant that he would be released and his criminal records sealed as soon as he turned 21, and Price bragged that he would "make history" when he was released. The case led to changes in state law to allow juveniles to be tried as adults for serious crimes, but these could not be applied retroactively to Price. Rhode Island residents formed the group Citizens Opposed to the Release of Craig Price to lobby for his continued imprisonment, due to the brutality of his crimes and the opinion of state psychologists that he was a poor candidate for rehabilitation.
During his incarceration, Price has been charged with a number of additional crimes, including criminal contempt for refusing a psychological evaluation, extortion for threatening a corrections officer, assault, and violation of probation for fights while in prison. He was sentenced to an additional 10–25 years, depending on his cooperation with treatment.Federal Bureau of Prisons
The Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) is a United States law enforcement agency responsible for the custody, control, and care of individuals incarcerated in the federal prison system of the United States. Staff are credentialed federal law enforcement officers under the Department of Justice with limited arrest powers within their prison properties.
The BOP has five security levels:
Minimum-security. Little or no perimeter fencing, low staff-to-inmate ratio.Low-security, Double-fenced perimeters. Mostly cubicle or dormitory housing.Medium-security. Double-fenced with electronic detection systems. Cell housing.High-security. Reinforced fences or walls.Administrative-security. Houses all security levels.Employees are trained at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynco, Georgia. The BOP is currently headed by Hugh Hurwitz.Felon (film)
Felon is a 2008 American prison film written and directed by Ric Roman Waugh. The film stars Stephen Dorff, Val Kilmer and Harold Perrineau. The film tells the story of the family man who ends up in state prison after he kills an intruder. The story is based on events that took place in the 1990s at the notorious California State Prison, Corcoran. The film was released in the United States on July 18, 2008.Jail Guitar Doors
"Jail Guitar Doors" is a song by The Clash, recorded during October and November 1977 and released on 17 February 1978 as the b-side of their fourth single "Clash City Rockers". The song is featured on the U.S. release of their debut album, and on their 2006 compilations album the Singles Box.
It began life as "Lonely Mother's Son" by Joe Strummer's former band The 101ers, sharing the same chorus, which begins, "Clang clang go the jail guitar doors."
"Jail Guitar Doors" was covered by the former Guns N' Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, who recorded a version on his debut solo album, Pawnshop Guitars, with the contribution of the members of Guns N' Roses, Pixies vocalist Frank Black, guitarist Ryan Roxie and bassist Duff McKagan.The song opens with the lines "Let me tell you 'bout Wayne and his deals of cocaine", which is a reference to the MC5 guitarist Wayne Kramer. In the second verse line, "And I'll tell you 'bout Pete, didn't want no fame" refers to Peter Green. The third verse line, "And then there's Keith, waiting for trial" refers to Rolling Stones' guitarist Keith Richards. Kramer later performed "Jail Guitar Doors" in concert.Liz Truss
Mary Elizabeth Truss (born 26 July 1975), known as Liz Truss, is a British Conservative Party politician and Chief Secretary to the Treasury who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for South West Norfolk since 2010.
After graduating from the University of Oxford in 1996, Truss worked in sales, as an economist, and was deputy director at the think-tank Reform, before becoming a member of parliament at the 2010 general election. As a backbencher, she called for reform in a number of policy areas, including childcare, maths education, and the economy. She founded the Free Enterprise Group of Conservative MPs, and authored or co-authored a number of papers and books, including After the Coalition (2011) and Britannia Unchained (2012).
Truss was the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State from 2012 to 2014, with responsibility for education and childcare in the Department for Education. She was the Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs from 2014 to 2016. On 14 July 2016, she was appointed Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor by Theresa May, succeeding Michael Gove, and becoming the first female Lord Chancellor in the thousand-year history of the role (if not counting Eleanor of Provence in 1253). On 11 June 2017, as part of a Cabinet reshuffle following the 2017 general election, Truss was appointed Chief Secretary to the Treasury.National Network for Safe Communities
The National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) is a research center at City University of New York John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The NNSC works with communities to reduce violence, minimize arrest and incarceration, and increase trust between law enforcement and the public. Working in partnership with cities around the country the NNSC provides advising on implementing evidence-based violence reduction strategies. Additionally, the NNSC provides guidance on how to build trust between law enforcement and the communities it serves, facilitates connections between practitioners within and across jurisdictions, and serves as a resource for knowledge about violence prevention and reduction strategies.Prison
A prison, also known as a correctional facility, jail, gaol (dated, British and Australian English), penitentiary (American English), detention center (American English), remand center, or internment facility (commonly used term in military theatres of war/involvement), is a facility in which inmates are forcibly confined and denied a variety of freedoms under the authority of the state. Prisons are most commonly used within a criminal justice system: people charged with crimes may be imprisoned until their trial; those pleading or being found guilty of crimes at trial may be sentenced to a specified period of imprisonment. In simplest terms, a prison can also be described as a building in which people are legally held as a punishment for a crime they have committed.
Prisons can also be used as a tool of political repression by authoritarian regimes. Their perceived opponents may be imprisoned for political crimes, often without trial or other legal due process; this use is illegal under most forms of international law governing fair administration of justice. In times of war, prisoners of war or detainees may be detained in military prisons or prisoner of war camps, and large groups of civilians might be imprisoned in internment camps.
In American English, prison and jail are usually treated as having separate definitions. The term prison or penitentiary tends to describe institutions that incarcerate people for longer periods of time, such as many years, and are operated by the state or federal governments. The term jail tends to describe institutions for confining people for shorter periods of time (e.g. for shorter sentences or pre-trial detention) and are usually operated by local governments. Outside of North America, prison and jail have the same meaning.
Common slang terms for a prison include: "the pokey", "the slammer", "the can", "the clink", "the joint", "the calaboose", "the hoosegow" and "the big house". Slang terms for imprisonment include: "behind bars", "in stir" and "up the river" (a possible reference to Sing Sing).Prison riot
A prison riot is an act of concerted defiance or disorder by a group of prisoners against the prison administrators, prison officers, or other groups of prisoners.
Prison riots have not been the subject of many academic studies or research inquiries. The analyses that do exist tend to emphasize a connection between prison conditions (such as prison overcrowding) and riots, or discuss the dynamics of the modern prison riot. In addition, a large proportion of academic studies concentrate on specific cases of prison riots. Other recent research analyzes and examines prison strikes and reports of contention with inmate workers.The Glass Cell (novel)
The Glass Cell (1964) is a psychological thriller novel by Patricia Highsmith. It was the tenth of her 22 novels. It addresses the psychological and physical impact of wrongful imprisonment. It appeared in both the UK and the US in 1964. When first published, the book jacket carried a warning that its opening scene is "almost unacceptable".It was republished by W.W. Norton & Company in 2004 and by Virago in 2014.The Number (book)
The Number - book about South Africa’s criminal tradition, was written by Jonny Steinberg.
The Number: One Man's Search for Identity in the Cape Underworld and Prison Gangs is the award-winning book that tells about crime and punishment in ghettos of Cape Town and won South Africa’s premier nonfiction literary award, the Sunday Times Alan Paton Prize.Prison gangs are one of the primary vehicles for the committing the violence. But unfortunately very little is known about prison violence and how it appears. Jonny Steinberg made a research on prison gangs based in Pollsmoor prison resulting in a remarkable book “The Number” and a monograph Nongoloza’s Children.Vera Institute of Justice
The Vera Institute of Justice, founded in 1961, is an independent nonprofit national research and policy organization in the United States. Based primarily in New York City, Vera also has offices in Washington, D.C.. Vera describes its goal as "to tackle the most pressing injustices of our day: from the causes and consequences of mass incarceration, racial disparities, and the loss of public trust in law enforcement, to the unmet needs of the vulnerable, the marginalized, and those harmed by crime and violence."W.J. Estelle Unit
W. J. "Jim" Estelle Unit (E2, originally the Ellis II Unit) is a prison located on Farm to Market Road 3478 in unincorporated Walker County, Texas, United States, 10 miles (16 km) north of central Huntsville. The prison, with about 5,459 acres (2,209 ha) of space, is operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The unit, which opened in June 1984, was named after Ward James "Jim" Estelle, a former prison director of Texas.
The Estelle Unit has a geriatric facility, a program for physically handicapped inmates, a program for substance abuse, a high security unit, and a regional medical facility. The Estelle High Security Unit, the high security unit, is a supermax facility.Yare prison riot
On 20 August 2012, armed prisoners in the Yare I prison complex, an overcrowded Venezuelan prison in Miranda state near Caracas, Venezuela, rioted. A shootout between two groups resulted in the deaths of 25 people, one of them a visitor. Among those injured during the incident were 29 inmates and 14 visitors.