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Incarcerated Interactions

A Theory-Driven Analysis of Applied Prison Communication

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Edited By Erik D. Fritsvold and Jonathan M. Bowman

Incarcerated Interactions: A Theory-Driven Analysis of Applied Prison Communication is an innovative, applied edited book that uses core interdisciplinary social science theories to analyze and describe the social psychology and sociology of communicative interactions amongst incarcerated individuals. Beginning with the fundamentals of human interactions, this edited volume allows scholars across a variety of disciplines (such as criminology, sociology, communication studies, social psychology, anthropology, and economics) to become familiar with and apply the core principles and the requisite terminology of human communication within a criminological context. Each of the four sections of the text not only build upon the knowledge structures of previous chapters, but also function as stand-alone analyses and/or applications of extant scholarship within essential contexts. From a general discussion of core social science theory to the specific application of that theory in a range of scholarly contexts, this book addresses relevant issues such as mental illness and wellness, the gendered experience of inmates, recidivism rates, violence, the criminogenic effect of incarceration and the large-scale implications of prison gangs and their associated cultural influence, to name a few.

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9. Us Versus Them: The Battle of Corrections : James Bennett

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9. Us Versus Them: The Battle of Corrections

JAMES BENNETT

I believe every man in this place hates and detests the system under which he lives. He hates it even when he gets along without friction. He hates it because he knows it is bad; for it tends to crush slowly but irresistibly the good in himself.

—THOMAS MOTT OSBORNE, WITHIN PRISON WALLS, 1913

Almost a century later, Osborne’s commentary still proves a chillingly salient assessment of the United States’ corrections system. Since then, it has swelled to house over 2,300,000 incarcerated adult criminals, guarded by approximately 285,000 officers near its peak (US Department of Justice, 2000).1 Together, these two groups constitute the over 2.5 million Americans serving out portions, if not all, of their lives behind prison or jail walls; they represent the two sides—the in-group and the out-group—of corrections. Already, this twenty-two word, surface-level description of corrections offers poignant insight into the nature of industry. It does not correct, as the name implies, or even rehabilitate offenders; it manages them. The system takes charge of criminals, and the offenders must surrender authority over their own lives to it. This power dynamic lies at the heart of prison culture; it is the crux from which springs forth all other nuances of the institution. Prisons are nothing more than closed-off societies in which the guards, ultimately, possess complete control...

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