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Response of chapter 2 of Inside Rikers - Essay Example

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Chapter 3 of Inside Rikers, written by Jennifer Wynn, looks into the world of inmates and corrections officers (COs) at the Central Punitive Segregation Unit (CPSU). It is part of Wynn’s investigation of the reality in Rikers Island penal colony Solitary Imprisonment. For this…
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Response of chapter 2 of Inside Rikers
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Breaking stereotypes: Imprisonment and the job of corrections officers 2 April Introduction Chapter 3 of Inside Rikers, writtenby Jennifer Wynn, looks into the world of inmates and corrections officers (COs) at the Central Punitive Segregation Unit (CPSU). It is part of Wynn’s investigation of the reality in Rikers Island penal colony Solitary Imprisonment. For this chapter, she focuses on CPSU and the roles and responsibilities of COs. Her main point is that in prison, inmates and Cos alike and suffer from being separated from the rest of society. The two key points of this chapter are: solitary confinement reinforces criminal behavior and being a CO is a difficult task that has its psychological and social consequences.
Solitary Imprisonment and Effects on Inmates
Confinement may seem like the easiest way to control crime and punish offenders, but it is not entirely effective in reforming criminals. This chapter makes an interesting point that solitary confinement can be one of the most inhumane psychological punishments for criminals. Criminals are put in a prison inside a prison with almost all of their liberties controlled. It is a double-edged sword which, unfortunately, reinforces criminal behavior. Wynn stressed: “Solitary confinement itself can cause a very specific kind of psychiatric syndrome.” She is saying that solitary confinement should be considered as a strong independent variable for “random violence and self-mutilation, suicidal behavior...” She gives examples of how the CPSU breeds the most violent behaviors and thoughts among criminals which Captain talks about. Captain admits that isolation can turn criminals into worse personalities. He knows how unsafe it is, for instance, to have a normal life outside prison, knowing that any ex-convict might get back on COs. Through these examples, Wynn and the Captain make a good point on how detaching inmates from social contact and treating them like animals intensify their criminal attitudes and behaviors.
Corrections Officers as Human Beings and Inmates
Corrections officers are human beings too who are trapped in prison like inmates and they often suffer from the psychological and social effects of their jobs. William West, a former CO, said: “It’s the dirtiest, most thankless job in law enforcement” (Wynn). Wynn also cited a joke that accurately portrays the effects of this job on COs: “What’s the first three things you get when you become a CO?” The answer: ‘A car. A gun. A divorce.’” Harry, one of the COs, provides an example of a CO, the first man to be punished with death penalty. Harry has a calm attitude towards COs who turn into criminals themselves, as if he knows that such consequences of the job cannot be entirely avoided. These examples indicate that corrections officers, who commonly develop sharpened propensities for violence because of their roles and daily experiences in the job, also suffer from lesser social contact and bad relationships.
Imprisonment delimits both criminals and COs. It may seem like the fastest way of protecting society from offenders, but it is not the most effective way of rehabilitating them. Wynn asks people to think about penal colonies and their role in curbing crime. I understand her vision. We should use imprisonment as opportunities to change these offenders and help them develop the skills and knowledge they need in order to be effectively reintegrated into society, if ever they are released from prison. The main end of incarceration is not punishment, but transforming what we find as inhumane in these offenders into humane again.
Wynn, J. (2001). Inside rikers. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Read More
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