Posts Tagged ‘otherness’


Posted: April 20, 2012 by Ed Griffin in Prison, Reform
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A guest post by an area inmate. This man, who’s posted before, is a prison leader.

otherAs I walk these dim corridors, I hear the same thing over and over. Guys complaining about guards, their Internal Parole Officers (like a caseworker) and the institution in general. There is a negative attitude that is nurtured by other inmates without a thought.

This pervasive sense of otherness is perpetuated by the very environment that has been constructed for our rehabilitation. This otherness is built up over time and becomes a serious barrier to rehabilitation for some inmates.

In older prisons like the one I’m in, prisoners live on cellblocks with barriers at the ends to keep the cellblocks separated. Guards have their offices outside of the cellblock end and do not have much contact with inmates except during counts and rounds. This strengthens a feeling of otherness between guards and inmates. It is not just inmates that nurture this attitude, but guards also who prefer to see us just as inmates and not as people. This doesn’t lend itself to a respectful relationship between people.

This not to say that all inmates are haters of guards and that all guards are haters of inmates, but rather that the environment nurtures that kind of separateness. An inmate can’t be seen to be too friendly with the guards lest he be ostracized by his peers. While I can’t say for sure – I’m not a guard – I suspect there is probably the same type of attitude on the guard’s side.

What is the solution? This is difficult and requires a shift in attitude from people on both sides of the fence. For an inmate it is much harder to accomplish for we are a ‘captive’ audience, and have to consider out choices more carefully in the environment that we live in.

otherI like to think that there is a solution and that we can all just get along, but maybe I’m just a dreamer, in the words of John Lennon’s Imagine. Imagine a prison system that rehabilitated rather than punished.



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