For years I have tried to convince inmates that those men in protective custody (PC) were just like them.

“Listen, teacher, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Those guys are all sex offenders or rats who squeal on other cons.”

I knew that to be untrue. An inmate I know was beaten in his cell before anyone else was awake. Three guys jumped him with homemade clubs and weapons while he was still in bed. What did the prison system do? They moved the man to a PC prison.

This was often done when there were fights – the people in the fights were moved to PC prisons. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t convince people that the guys in PC were human beings. I even pointed out that every group in society seemed to need a group to be lower than them. Society considers inmates to be the lowest of the low, but inmates can say, “At least we’re not PC.”

Recently the Canadian prison system has come up with an answer to this problem. They put general population men and PC inmates in minimum security together. And they let it be known, that if there are any fights or any bullying, people will be sent back to higher security.

I couldn’t accomplish this by talking, but the system did it by mixing the two populations.

  1. iarxiv says:

    I hadn’t thought about this before: who inmates would consider to be ‘lower’ than them in society. A sad topic.
    Question is, what about the people in PC? Who do they consider to be lower than them?

    • Joanne says:

      It then comes to type of crime. So if you’re a rapist, then you are higher up the ladder than a child molester, etc. But of course there does come a time when there is nothing you can claim to be lower. Too bad many people fail to understand that we all have failings and we all shine in certain respects.

      • Ed Griffin says:

        Thank you, Joanne. We volunteers, staff, guards etc are especially guilty in this area. We assume that somehow ‘we are better.’ But we’re not. This came to me as I reflected on my four years as a city councilman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. I almost took money from a known underworld figure, because ‘ I need it.’
        It’s like my parents taught me — much is demanded from those who have been given much.

    • Ed Griffin says:

      Thank you, iarxiv. Some of the PC inmates I know well do not bother with the whole idea. But they do run into trouble if they are put in the same area as a general population inmate.

  2. Joanne says:

    I find this to be the one of the saddest phenomena in a prison. And it is certainly ironic and reflective of society as a whole. The attitude that “they are worse than me” is extremely difficult to break. However, there have been some break-throughs that I have been privy to. Once, for example, a “solid” man told me that he now looks around to make sure no other solids are watching before he says “Hi” to guys from the PC side.

    There has been integration between the two groups–GP and PC–in medium-security institutions in Canada for quite some time now and it is becoming more and more prominent all the time. At present, I believe that the only maximum-security institutions have the two populations segregated.

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