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Chapter Summary and Key Concepts

Chapter 12 examines the institution of the prison and how it affects inmates and prison staff.

Work and Life in the Prison

  • The prison is a closed institution where everything is tightly controlled and structured.

  • Inmates develop terms, called an argot, for the various roles they take to adapt to imprisonment.

  • Prison gangs have replaced many of the traditional, individual argot roles.

  • Pelican Bay State Prison is an example of a maximum-security prison that recalls the separate-and-silent systems of early U.S. prisons.

  • The two most infamous prison riots are the 1971 Attica Prison riot and the 1980 New Mexico State Prison riot.

  • Guards, medical technicians, treatment specialists, administrators, secretaries, and clergy are examples of the types of staff who work in the prison.

  • The most prevalent staff position is that of the correctional officer.

Courts and the Prison

  • Prior to the 1960s, courts did not intervene in prison or inmate affairs. This is known as the hands-off doctrine.

  • The constitutional source of inmate rights includes the Eighth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment provisions of due process and equal protection.

Private Prisons

  • The first modern private prisons opened in the early 1980s.

  • Three companies provide most of the private correctional services in the United States: the Corrections Corporation of America, Wackenhut Corrections Corporation, and Correctional Services Corporation.


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