M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 488 chapter 14 Prison Life LEARNING OBJECTIVES After reading this chapter, you should be able to © OUTLINE © Introduction The Male Inmate’s World The Female Inmate’s World The Staff World Prison Riots Prisoners’ Rights Issues Facing Prisons Today © © © © © © Describe the realities of prison life and prison subculture from the inmate’s point of view. Illustrate the significant differences between men’s prisons and women’s prisons. Describe the realities of prison life from the corrections officer’s point of view.
Describe the causes of prison riots, and list the stages through which most riots progress. Discuss the legal aspects of prisoners’ rights, and explain the consequences of precedent-setting U. S. Supreme Court cases in the area of prisoners’ rights. Describe the major problems and issues that prisons face today. © © © © © 488 M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 489 Prison Life CHAPTER 14 489 489 M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 490 490 PA R T 4 Corrections Mass incarceration seems to have made the streets safer. The vast increase in the prison and jail population from about 380,000 in 1975 to 2. million today overlaps with equally stunning declines in crime. . . . Many critics of incarceration argue (a bit too quickly) that crime would have fallen without the prison boom. Perhaps. Still the value of safer neighborhoods is immediate, while the costs of excessive imprisonment are theoretical and vague. —Jason DeParle1 Jurisdictions should develop, with the assistance of prosecutors and others, community supervision programs that allow all but the most serious [offenders] to avoid incarceration and a conviction record. —American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Section2 INTRODUCTION
On the FOX TV show Prison Break, Wentworth Miller plays the role of an engineer named Michael Scofield who holds up a bank so that he can join his brother in the fictional Fox River State Penitentiary. Scofield’s brother, Lincoln (Dominic Purcell), has been convicted of a sensational murder and is housed on the prison’s death row. The show, which centers around Michael’s elaborate plan to break Lincoln out and to prove that he’s innocent, draws a large weekly audience and demonstrates the fascination that the American public has with prison life. For many years, prisons and prison life could e described by the phrase “out of sight, out of mind. ” Very few citizens cared about prison conditions, and those unfortunate enough to be locked away were regarded as lost to the world. By the mid-twentieth century, however, this attitude started to change. Concerned citizens began to offer their services to prison administrators, neighborhoods began accepting work-release prisoners and halfway houses, and social scientists initiated a serious study of prison life. Today, as shows like Prison Break make clear, prisons and prison life have entered the American mainstream.
Part of the reason for this is because prisons today hold more people than ever before, and incarceration impacts not only those imprisoned but family members, friends, and victims on the outside. Dominic Purcell (left) and Wentworth Miller, stars of the hit FOX TV show Prison Break. Why do so many TV viewers find prison life intriguing? John Zich/CORBIS-NY M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 491 Prison Life CHAPTER 14 491 This chapter describes the realities of prison life today, including prisoner lifestyles, prison subcultures, sexuality in prison, prison violence, and prisoners’ rights and grievance procedures.
We will discuss both the inmate world and the staff world. A separate section on women in prison details the social structure of women’s prisons, daily life in those facilities, and the various types of female inmates. We begin with a brief overview of early research on prison life. Research on Prison Life—Total Institutions In 1935, Hans Reimer, who was then chairman of the Department of Sociology at Indiana University, set the tone for studies of prison life when he voluntarily served three months in prison as an incognito participant-observer. Reimer reported the results of his studies to the American Prison Association, stimulating many other, albeit less spectacular, efforts to examine prison life. Other early studies include Donald Clemmer’s The Prison Community (1940),4 Gresham Sykes’s The Society of Captives (1958),5 Richard Cloward and Donald Cressey’s Theoretical Studies in Social Organization of the Prison (1960),6 and Cressey’s edited volume, The Prison (1961). 7 These studies and others focused primarily on maximum-security prisons for men.
They treated correctional institutions as formal or complex organizations and employed the analytic techniques of organizational sociology, industrial psychology, and administrative science. 8 As modern writers on prisons have observed, “The prison was compared to a primitive society, isolated from the outside world, functionally integrated by a delicate system of mechanisms, which kept it precariously balanced between anarchy and accommodation. ”9 Another approach to the study of prison life was developed by Erving Goffman, who coined the term total institution in a 1961 study of prisons and mental hospitals. 0 Goffman described total institutions as places where the same people work, recreate, worship, eat, and sleep together daily. Such places include prisons, concentration camps, mental hospitals, seminaries, and other facilities in which residents are cut off from the larger society either forcibly or willingly. Total institutions are small societies. They evolve their own distinctive values and styles of life and pressure residents to fulfill rigidly prescribed behavioral roles.
Generally speaking, the work of prison researchers built on findings of other social scientists who discovered that any group with similar characteristics confined in the same place at the same time develops its own subculture. Prison subcultures, described in the next section, also provide the medium through which prison values are communicated and expectations are made known. Learn more about prison research at Library Extra 14–1 at MyCrimeKit. com. total institution An enclosed facility separated from society both socially and physically, where the inhabitants share all aspects of their daily lives.
Library Extra 14–1 A notice posted on a prison wall. Custody and control remain the primary concerns of prison staffers throughout the country—a fact reinforced by this notice. Is the emphasis on custody and control justified? Mike Fiala/Agence France Presse/Getty Images M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 492 492 PA R T 4 Corrections THE MALE INMATE’S WORLD Two social realities coexist in prison settings. One is the official structure of rules and procedures put in place by the wider society and enforced by prison staff. The other is the more informal but decidedly more powerful inmate world. 1 The inmate world, best described by how closely it touches the lives of inmates, is controlled by prison subculture. The realities of prison life—including a large and often densely packed inmate population that must look to the prison environment for all its needs—mean that prison subculture develops independently of the plans of prison administrators and is not easily subjected to the control of prison authorities. Inmates entering prison discover a whole new social world in which they must participate or face consequences ranging from dangerous ostracism to physical violence and homicide. 2 The socialization of new inmates into the prison subculture has been described as a process of prisonization13—the new prisoner’s learning of convict values, attitudes, roles, and even language. By the time this process is complete, new inmates have become “cons. ” Gresham Sykes and Sheldon Messinger recognized five elements of the prison code in 196014: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Don’t interfere with the interests of other inmates. Never rat on a con. Don’t lose your head. Play it cool and do your own time. Don’t exploit inmates. Don’t steal. Don’t break your word. Be right. Don’t whine. Be a man.
Don’t be a sucker. Don’t trust the guards or staff. prison subculture The values and behavioral patterns characteristic of prison inmates. Prison subculture has been found to be surprisingly consistent across the country. prisonization The process whereby newly institutionalized offenders come to accept prison lifestyles and criminal values. Although many inmates begin their prison experience with only a few values that support criminal behavior, the socialization experience they undergo while incarcerated leads to a much greater acceptance of such values. Library Extra 14–2 prison argot
The slang characteristic of prison subcultures and prison life. Web Extra 14–1 Some criminologists have suggested that the prison code is simply a reflection of general criminal values. If so, these values are brought to the institution rather than created there. Either way, the power and pervasiveness of the prison code require convicts to conform to the worldview held by the majority of prisoners. Stanton Wheeler, Ford Foundation Professor of Law and Social Sciences at the University of Washington, closely examined the concept of prisonization in an early study of the Washington State Reformatory. 5 Wheeler found that the degree of prisonization experienced by inmates tends to vary over time. He described changing levels of inmate commitment to prison norms and values by way of a U-shaped curve. When an inmate first enters prison, Wheeler said, the conventional values of outside society are of paramount importance. As time passes, inmates adopt the lifestyle of the prison. However, within the half year prior to release, most inmates begin to demonstrate a renewed appreciation of conventional values.
Learn more about both the positive and negative impacts of imprisonment at Library Extra 14–2 at MyCrimeKit. com. Different prisons share aspects of a common inmate culture. 16 Prison argot, or language, provides one example of how widespread prison subculture can be. The terms used to describe inmate roles in one institution are generally understood in others. The word rat, for example, is prison slang for an informer. Popularized by crime movies of the 1950s, the term is understood today by members of the wider society. Other words common to prison argot are shown in the CJ Today Exhibit.
View an online prisoner’s dictionary via Web Extra 14–1 at MyCrimeKit. com. The Evolution of Prison Subcultures Prison subcultures change constantly. Like any other American subculture, they evolve to reflect the concerns and experiences of the wider culture, reacting to new crime-control strategies and embracing novel opportunities for crime. The AIDS epidemic of the 1970s and 1980s, for example, brought about changes in prison sexual behavior, at least for a segment of the inmate population, and the emergence of a high-tech criminal group has further differentiated convict types.
Because of such changes, John Irwin, as he was completing his classic study titled The Felon17 (1970), expressed worry that his book was already obsolete. 18 The Felon, for all its insights into prison subcultures, follows in the descriptive tradition of works by Clemmer and Reimer. Irwin recognized that by 1970, prison subcultures had begun to reflect the cultural changes sweeping America. A decade later, other investigators of M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 493 Prison Life CHAPTER 14 493 rison subcultures were able to write, “It was no longer meaningful to speak of a single inmate culture or even subculture. By the time we began our field research . . . it was clear that the unified, oppositional convict culture, found in the sociological literature on prisons, no longer existed. ”19 Charles Stastny and Gabrielle Tyrnauer, describing prison life at Washington State Penitentiary in 1982, discovered four clearly distinguishable subcultures: (1) official, (2) traditional, (3) reform, and (4) revolutionary. 0 Official culture was promoted by the staff and by the administrative rules of the institution. Enthusiastic participants in official culture were mostly corrections officers and other staff members, although inmates were also well aware of the normative expectations that official culture imposed on them. Official culture affected the lives of inmates primarily through the creation of a prisoner hierarchy based on sentence length, prison jobs, and the “perks” that cooperation with the dictates of official culture could produce.
Traditional prison culture, described by early writers on the subject, still existed, but its participants spent much of their time lamenting the decline of the convict code among younger prisoners. Reform culture was unique at Washington State Penitentiary. It was the result of a brief experiment with inmate self-government during the early 1970s. Some elements of prison life that evolved during the experimental period survived the termination of self-government and were eventually institutionalized in what Stastny and Tyrnauer called “reform culture. They included inmate participation in civic-style clubs, citizen involvement in the daily activities of the prison, banquets, and inmate speaking tours. Revolutionary culture built on the radical political rhetoric of the disenfranchised and found a ready audience among minority prisoners who saw themselves as victims of society’s basic unfairness. Although they did not participate in it, revolutionary inmates understood traditional prison culture and generally avoided running afoul of its rules. It is better to prevent crimes than to punish them. —Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794)
The Functions of Prison Subcultures How do social scientists and criminologists explain the existence of prison subcultures? Although people around the world live in groups and create their own cultures, in few cases does the intensity of human interaction approach the level found in prisons. As we discussed in Chapter 13, many of today’s prisons are densely crowded places where inmates can find no retreat from the constant demands of staff and the pressures of fellow prisoners. Prison subcultures, according to some authors, are fundamentally an adaptation to deprivation and confinement.
In The Society of Captives, Sykes called these deprivations the “pains of imprisonment. ”21 The pains of imprisonment—the frustrations induced by the rigors of confinement—form the nexus of a deprivation model of prison subculture. Sykes said that prisoners are deprived of (1) liberty, (2) goods and services, (3) heterosexual relationships, (4) autonomy, and (5) personal security—and that these deprivations lead to the development of subcultures intended to ameliorate the personal pains that accompany deprivation.
In contrast to the deprivation model, the importation model of prison subculture suggests that inmates bring with them values, roles, and behavior patterns from the outside world. Such external values, second nature as they are to career offenders, depend substantially on the criminal worldview. When offenders are confined, these external elements shape the social world of inmates. The social structure of the prison—the accepted and relatively permanent social arrangements—is another element that shapes prison subculture. Clemmer’s early prison study recognized nine structural dimensions of inmate society.
He said that prison society could be described in terms of22 Prisoner–staff dichotomy Three general classes of prisoners Work gangs and cell-house groups Racial groups Type of offense M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 494 494 PA R T 4 Corrections Prison Argot: The Language of Confinement Writers who have studied prison life often comment on prisoners’ use of a special language or slang termed prison argot. This language generally describes prison activities and the roles assigned by prison culture to types of inmates.
This box lists a few of the many words and phrases identified in studies by different authors. The first group includes words that are characteristic of men’s prisons; the second group includes words used in women’s prisons. MEN’S PRISON SLANG Ace duce: A best friend Badge (or bull, hack, the man, or screw): A corrections officer Banger (or burner, shank, or sticker): A knife Billy: A white man Boneyard: The conjugal visiting area Cat-J (or J-cat): A prisoner in need of psychological or psychiatric therapy or medication Cellie: A cell ate Chester: A child molester Dog: A homeboy or friend Fag: A male inmate who is believed to be a “natural” or “born” homosexual Featherwood: A white prisoner’s woman Fish: A newly arrived inmate Gorilla: An inmate who uses force to take what he wants from others Homeboy: A prisoner from one’s hometown or neighborhood Ink: Tattoos Lemon squeezer: An inmate who masturbates frequently Man walking: A phrase used to signal that a guard is coming Merchant (or peddler): One who sells when he should give
Peckerwood (or wood): A white prisoner Punk: A male inmate who is forced into a submissive role during homosexual relations Rat (or snitch): An inmate who squeals (provides information about other inmates to the prison administration) Schooled: Knowledgeable in the ways of prison life Shakedown: A search of a cell or of a work area Tree jumper: A rapist Turn out: To rape or make into a punk Wolf: A male inmate who assumes the dominant role during homosexual relations WOMEN’S PRISON SLANG
Cherry (or cherrie): A female inmate who has not yet been introduced to lesbian activities Fay broad: A white female inmate Femme (or mommy): A female inmate who plays the female role during lesbian relations Safe: The vagina, especially when used for hiding contraband Stud broad (or daddy): A female inmate who assumes the male role during lesbian relations References: Gresham Sykes, The Society of Captives (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1958); Rose Giallombardo, Society of Women: A Study of a Woman’s Prison (New York: John Wiley, 1966); and Richard A.
Cloward et al. , Theoretical Studies in Social Organization of the Prison (New York: Social Science Research Council, 1960). For a more contemporary listing of prison slang terms, see Reinhold Aman, Hillary Clinton’s Pen Pal: A Guide to Life and Lingo in Federal Prison (Santa Rosa, CA: Maledicta Press, 1996); Jerome Washington, Iron House: Stories from the Yard (Ann Arbor, MI: QED Press, 1994); Morrie Camhi, The Prison Experience (Boston: Charles Tuttle, 1989); and Harold Long, Survival in Prison (Port Townsend, WA: Loompanics, 1990).
Power of inmate “politicians” Degree of sexual abnormality Record of repeat offenses Personality differences due to preprison socialization Clemmer’s nine structural dimensions still describe prison life today. When applied to individuals, they designate an inmate’s position in the prison “pecking order” and create expectations of the appropriate role for that person. Prison roles serve to satisfy the needs of inmates for power, sexual performance, material possessions, individuality, and personal pleasure and to define the status of one prisoner relative to another.
For example, inmate leaders, sometimes referred to as “real men” or “toughs” by prisoners in early studies, offer protection to those who live by the rules. They also provide for a redistribution of wealth inside prison and see to it that the rules of the complex prison-derived economic system— based on barter, gambling, and sexual favors—are observed. For an intimate multimedia portrait of life behind bars, visit Web Extra 14–2 at MyCrimeKit. com. Web Extra 14–2 M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 495 Prison Life CHAPTER 14 495
Prison Lifestyles and Inmate Types Prison society is strict and often unforgiving. Even so, inmates are able to express some individuality through the choice of a prison lifestyle. John Irwin viewed these lifestyles (like the subcultures of which they are a part) as adaptations to the prison environment. 23 Other writers have since elaborated on these coping mechanisms. Listed below are some of the types of prisoners that researchers have described. The mean dude. Some inmates adjust to prison by being violent. Other inmates know that these prisoners are best left alone.
The mean dude is frequently written up and spends much time in solitary confinement. This role is most common in male institutions and in maximum-security prisons. For some prisoners, the role of mean dude in prison is similar to the role they played in their life prior to being incarcerated. Certain personality types, such as the psychopath, may feel a natural attraction to this role. Prison culture supports violence in two ways: (1) by expecting inmates to be tough and (2) through the prevalence of the idea that only the strong survive inside prison.
The hedonist. Some inmates build their lives around the limited pleasures available Whilst we have prisons it within the confines of prison. The smuggling of contraband, homosexuality, gambling, matters little which of us drug running, and other officially condemned activities provide the center of interest occupies the cells. for prison hedonists. Hedonists generally have an abbreviated view of the future, living —George Bernard Shaw only for the “now. ” (1856–1950) The opportunist. The opportunist takes advantage of the positive experiences prison has to offer.
Schooling, trade training, counseling, and other self-improvement activities are the focal points of the opportunist’s life in prison. Opportunists are generally well liked by prison staff, but other prisoners shun and mistrust them because they come closest to accepting the role that the staff defines as “model prisoner. ” The retreatist. Prison life is rigorous and demanding. Badgering by the staff and actual or feared assaults by other inmates may cause some prisoners to attempt psychological retreat from the realities of imprisonment.
Such inmates may experience neurotic or psychotic episodes, become heavily involved in drug and alcohol abuse through the illicit prison economy, or even attempt suicide. Depression and mental illness are the hallmarks of the retreatist personality in prison. The legalist. The legalist is the “jailhouse lawyer. ” Convicts facing long sentences, with little possibility for early release through the correctional system, are most likely to turn to the courts in their battle against confinement. The radical. Radical inmates view themselves as political prisoners.
They see society and the successful conformists who populate it as oppressors who have forced criminality on many “good people” through the creation of a system that distributes wealth and power inequitably. The inmate who takes on the radical role is unlikely to receive much sympathy from prison staff. The colonizer. Some inmates think of prison as their home and don’t look forward to leaving. They “know the ropes,” have many “friends” inside, and may feel more comfortable institutionalized than on the streets. They typically hold positions of power or respect among the inmate population.
Once released, some colonizers commit new crimes to return to prison. The religious. Some prisoners profess a strong religious faith. They may be born-again Christians, A male inmate dressing as a female in the protective custody wing of committed Muslims, or even satanists or witches. the Ferguson Unit in Midway, Texas. Homosexuality is common in Religious inmates frequently attend services, may both men’s and women’s prisons. How does it differ between the two? form prayer groups, and sometimes ask the prison Andrew Lichtenstein
M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 496 496 PA R T 4 Corrections Review: Prisoner Reentry (Corrections) Video: Definition of “Sexual Coercion” in Prison Video: Sexual Orientation and Prison Sexual Coercion Video: How Widespread Is Sexual Coercion in Prison? administration to allocate meeting facilities or to create special diets to accommodate their claimed spiritual needs. While it is certainly true that some inmates have a strong religious faith, staff members are apt to be suspicious of the overly religious prisoner. The gang-banger.
Gang-bangers are affiliated with prison gangs and depend upon the gang for defense and protection. They display gang signs, sport gang-related tattoos, and use their gang membership as a channel for the procurement of desired goods and services both inside and outside of prison. The realist. The realist sees confinement as a natural consequence of criminal activity and as an unfortunate cost of doing business. This stoic attitude toward incarceration generally leads the realist to “pull his (or her) own time” and to make the best of it.
Realists tend to know the inmate code, are able to avoid trouble, and continue in lives of crime once released. Homosexuality in Prison Sexual behavior inside prisons is both constrained and encouraged by prison subculture. One Houston woman, whose son is serving time in a Texas prison, explained the path to prison homosexuality this way: “Within a matter of days, if not hours, an unofficial prison welcome wagon sorts new arrivals into those who will fight, those who will pay extortion cash of up to $60 every two weeks, and those who will be servants or slaves. You’re jumped on by two or three prisoners to see if you’ll fight,’ said the woman. ‘If you don’t fight, you become someone’s girl, until they’re tired of you and they sell you to someone else. ’”24 Sykes’s early study of prison argot found many words describing homosexual activity. Among them were the terms wolf, punk, and fag. Wolves were aggressive men who assumed the masculine role in homosexual relations. Punks were forced into submitting to the female role. The term fag described a special category of men who had a natural proclivity toward homosexual activity and effeminate mannerisms.
While both wolves and punks were fiercely committed to their heterosexual identity and participated in homosexuality only because of prison conditions, fags generally engaged in homosexual lifestyles before their entry into prison and continued to emulate feminine mannerisms and styles of dress once incarcerated. Prison homosexuality depends to a considerable degree on the naivete of young inmates experiencing prison for the first time. Even when newly arrived inmates are protected from fights, older prisoners looking for homosexual liaisons may ingratiate themselves by offering cigarettes, money, drugs, food, or protection.
At some future time, these “loans” will be called in, with payoffs demanded in sexual favors. Because the inmate code requires the repayment of favors, the “fish” who tries to resist may quickly find himself face-to-face with the brute force of inmate society. The sexual coercion experiences of inmates were recently studied by Cindy StruckmanJohnson and David Struckman-Johnson, who obtained survey data from 1,788 male and 263 female inmates in ten midwestern prisons. 25 (Sexual coercion involves “persuasion” and other techniques to gain victims’ unwilling compliance. Survey results, which were published in 2006, showed that 21% of the men and 19% of the women reported having experienced one or more incidents of pressured or coerced sexual contact during their present incarceration. Most perpetrators of sexual coercion were men (91% of the male victims, but only 51% of the female victims reported a male perpetrator), and men were more likely than women (72% versus 47%) to be coerced by other inmates, while women were far more likely to be coerced into sexual relations by prison staff (41% of women inmates versus 8% of male inmates).
More than half of all incidents of sexual coercion, however, involved multiple perpetrators. Prison rape, which is generally considered to involve physical assault, represents a special category of sexual victimization behind bars. In 2003, Congress mandated the collection of statistics on prison rape as part of the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA). 26 The purposes of the PREA are to27 Establish a zero-tolerance standard for prison rape Make prison rape prevention a top priority in correctional facilities and systems M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 497
Prison Life CHAPTER 14 497 Develop and implement national standards for the detection, prevention, reduction, and punishment of prison rape Increase the availability of information on the incidence and prevalence of prison rape Increase the accountability of corrections officials with regard to the issue of sexual violence in U. S. prisons The PREA requires the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to collect data in federal and state prisons, county and city jails, and juvenile institutions, with the U. S. Census Bureau acting as the official repository for collected data.
In 2007, the BJS completed its third annual national survey of administrative records and adult correctional facilities for PREA purposes. 28 The survey found that reports of sexual violence varied significantly between prisons and across states, with every state prison system except Alaska and New Mexico reporting at least one allegation of sexual violence. Among the 344 local jail jurisdictions participating in the survey, 47% reported at least one allegation of sexual violence. About 52% of privately operated prisons and jails similarly reported at least one such allegation.
Overall, the survey found 5,605 allegations of sexual violence. Extrapolating from that data, BJS estimated that the total number of prison and jail sexual assaults throughout the nation for that year was around 6,500. The PREA survey is only a first step in understanding and eliminating prison rape. As BJS notes, “Due to fear of reprisal from perpetrators, a code of silence among inmates, personal embarrassment, and lack of trust in staff, victims are often reluctant to report incidents to correctional authorities. 29 Learn more about the PREA and read new survey results as they become available via Web Extra 14–3 at MyCrimeKit. com. An earlier but comprehensive review of rape inside male prisons was published in 2001 by Human Rights Watch. Entitled No Escape: Male Rape in U. S. Prisons,30 the 378-page report examined three years of research and interviews with more than 200 prisoners in 34 states. Perpetrators of prison rape were found to be young (generally 20 to 30 years old), larger or stronger than their victims, and “generally more assertive, physically aggressive, and more at home in the prison environment” than their victims.
Rapists were also found to be “street smart” and were frequently gang members who were well established in the inmate hierarchy and who had been convicted of violent crimes. A large proportion of sexual aggressors are characterized by low education and poverty, having grown up in a broken home headed by the mother, and having a record of violent offenses. 31 Lee H. Bowker, summarizing studies of sexual violence in prison, provides the following observations32: Most sexual aggressors do not consider themselves homosexuals. Sexual release is not the primary motivation for sexual attack.
Many aggressors must continue to participate in gang rapes to avoid becoming victims themselves. The aggressors have themselves suffered much damage to their masculinity in the past. As in cases of heterosexual rape, sexual assaults in prison are likely to leave psychological scars on the victim long after the physical event is over. 33 Victims of prison rape live in fear, may feel constantly threatened, and can turn to self-destructive activities. 34 Many victims question their masculinity and undergo a personal devaluation. Some victims of prison sexual assault become violent, attacking and sometimes killing the person who raped them.
The Human Rights Watch researchers found that prisoners “fitting any part of the following description” are more likely to become rape victims: “young, small in size, physically weak, white, gay, first offender, possessing ‘feminine’ characteristics such as long hair or a high voice; being unassertive, unaggressive, shy, intellectual, not street-smart, or ‘passive’; or having been convicted of a sexual offense against a minor. ” The researchers also noted that “prisoners with several overlapping characteristics are much more likely than other prisoners to be targeted for abuse. The report concluded that to reduce the incidence of prison rape, “prison officials should take considerably more care in matching cell mates, and that, as a general rule, double-celling should be avoided. ” Learn more about male rape in U. S. prisons at Library Extra 14–3 at MyCrimeKit. com. Web Extra 14–3 Library Extra 14–3 M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 498 498 PA R T 4 Corrections FIGURE 14–1 Prison inmates by gender and ethnicity in state and federal prisons. Source: Heather C. West and William J. Sabol, Prisoners in 2007 (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008).
THE FEMALE INMATE’S WORLD As Chapter 13 showed, more than 115,770 women were imprisoned in state and federal correctional institutions throughout the United States at the middle of 2008, accounting for about 7% of all prison inmates. 35 Texas had the largest number of female prisoners (11,980), exceeding even the federal government. 36 Figure 14–1 provides a breakdown of the total American prison population by gender and ethnicity. While there are still far more men imprisoned across the nation than women (approximately 14 men for every woman), the number of female inmates is rising. 7 In 1981, women made up only 4% of the nation’s overall prison population, but the number White of female inmates nearly tripled during the 1980s and is 34% Black continuing to grow at a rate greater than that of male 38% inmates. In 2003, the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) published the results of its three-year project on female Hispanic offenders in adult correctional settings. 38 Findings from 21% Other the study produced the national profile of incarcerated 7% women that is shown in Table 14–1. NIC says that “women involved in the criminal justice system represent a population marginalized by race, class, and gender. 39 Black women, for example, are overrepresented in correctional populations. While they Ethnicity constitute only 13% of women in the United States, nearly 50% of women in prison are black, and black women are eight times more likely than white women to be incarcerated. Study authors found that most female offenders are nonviolent and that their crimes are typically less threatening to community safety than those of male offenders. Female offenders, according to the study, are disproportionately low-income women of color who are undereducated and unskilled, with sporadic employment histories.
They are less likely than men to have committed violent offenses and are more likely to have been convicted of crimes involving drugs or property. Often, their property offenses are economically driven, motivated by poverty and by the abuse of alcohol or other drugs. The majority of offenses committed by women who are in prisons and jails are nonviolent drug and property crimes. According to NIC, women face life circumstances that tend to be specific to their gender, such as sexual abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and the responsibility of being the Male 93% Female 7% Gender TABLE 14–1 National Profile of Female Offenders
A profile based on national data for female offenders reveals the following characteristics: Disproportionately women of color In their early to mid-30s Most likely to have been convicted of a drug-related offense From fragmented families that include other family members who have been involved with the criminal justice system Survivors of physical and/or sexual abuse as children and adults Individuals with significant substance-abuse problems Individuals with multiple physical and mental health problems Unmarried mothers of minor children Individuals with a high school or general equivalency diploma (GED) but limited vocational training and sporadic work histories Source: Barbara Bloom, Barbara Owen, and Stephanie Covington, Gender-Responsive Strategies: Research, Practice, and Guiding Principles for Women Offenders (Washington, DC: National Institute of Corrections, 2003). M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 499 Prison Life CHAPTER 14 499 primary caregiver for dependent children.
Research shows that female offenders differ significantly from their male counterparts regarding personal histories and pathways to crime. 40 A female offender, for example, is more likely to have been the primary caretaker of young children at the time of her arrest, more likely to have experienced physical and/or sexual abuse, and more likely to have distinctive physical and mental health needs. The most common pathways to crime for women, according to NIC, involve survival strategies that result from physical and sexual abuse, poverty, and substance abuse. Consequently, the first life circumstance that the NIC study examined closely was physical and sexual abuse. Not all women who suffer abuse commit crimes, but one of the things most women in prison share is a background of victimization,” says Harvard University researcher Angel Browne. Supporting data come from BJS findings showing that about half (48%) of women in jail (but only 13% of men) and about half (48%) of women in state and federal prisons (but only 12% of men) had been physically or sexually abused before incarceration. 41 Women in prison are three times more likely to have a history of abuse than men in prison. 42 Approximately 37% of women in state prison, 23% of women in federal prison, 37% of women in jail, and 28% of women on probation reported physical or sexual abuse before the age of 18. 3 Other studies show a much higher rate of abuse than the BJS data. One study, for example, found that 80% of a sample of incarcerated women in California had been physically and/or sexually abused prior to incarceration. 44 A later study found that more than 80% of the women incarcerated in North Carolina’s state prisons had been physically and/or sexually abused. 45 In interviews with women at a New York maximum-security prison, Browne found that 70% of incarcerated women reported physical violence, and nearly 60% reported sexual abuse. 46 The link between female criminality and substance abuse is very strong, and it was the second life circumstance that the NIC study examined.
Research shows that women are more likely to be involved in crime if they are drug users. 47 Approximately 80% of women in state prisons have substance-abuse problems. 48 About half of the female offenders in state prisons had been using alcohol, drugs, or both at the time of their offense. Nearly one in three women serving time in state prisons reported committing the offense to obtain money to support a drug habit. About half described themselves as daily users. 49 To put these statistics into perspective, it is helpful to compare them to statistics on substance abuse among women in the general population. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that 2. % of females in the United States age 12 and older had engaged in heavy alcohol use within the 30 days preceding the survey, 4. 1% had used an illicit drug, and 1. 2% had used a psychotherapeutic drug for a nonmedical purpose. 50 By contrast, the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that 54% of female offenders in state prisons had used an illicit drug during the month before they committed their crimes, and 48% were under the influence of either alcohol or another drug when they committed their crimes. 51 Among female offenders in federal prisons, 27% had used an illicit drug in the month before they committed their crimes, and 20% were under the influence when they committed their crimes.
Some complain that many women are being unfairly sent to prison by current federal drug policies for playing only minor roles in drug-related offenses. “We’ve gone from being a nation of latchkey kids to a nation of locked-up moms, where women are the invisible prisoners of drug laws, serving hard time for someone else’s crime,”52 says Lenora Lapidus, coauthor of the 2005 report Caught in the Net: The Impact of Drug Policies on Women and Families. 53 “Even when they have minimal or no involvement whatsoever in the drug trade,” the report claims, “women are increasingly caught in the ever-widening net cast by current drug laws. ” Caught in the Net is available at Library Extra 14–4 at MyCrimeKit. com.
The third life circumstance that the NIC study examined was physical health. Female inmates face health issues, including pregnancy, that differ from those of men. Women frequently enter jails and prisons in poor health, and they experience more serious health problems than do their male counterparts. Their poor health is often due to poverty, poor nutrition, inadequate health care, and substance abuse. 54 It is estimated that 20% to 35% of I beseech you all to think about these women—to encourage the American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines, in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders, and for those involved in drugtaking.
They would be much better served in a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is no real help, no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate, no way to be prepared for life “out there” where each person will ultimately find herself, many with no skills and no preparation for living. —Martha Stewarti We must remember always that the doors of prisons swing both ways. —Mary Belle Harris, the first federal female warden Library Extra 14–4 M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 500 500 PA R T 4 Corrections women attend prison sick call daily, compared with 7% to 10% of men. Women also have more medical problems related to their reproductive systems than do men. About 5% of women enter prison while pregnant, and most of these pregnancies are considered high risk due to a history of inadequate medical care, abuse, and substance abuse.
Sexually transmitted diseases are also a problem among female offenders. Approximately 3. 5% of women in prison are HIV-positive, and female prisoners are 50% more likely than male prisoners to be HIV-positive. The number of women infected with HIV has increased 69% since 1991, while the number of infected male offenders has decreased by 22%. 55 Female offenders are also at greater risk than nonincarcerated women for breast, lung, and cervical cancer. One study, for example, found that incarcerated women who reported sexual abuse before the age of 17 were six times more likely than those who did not experience this abuse to exhibit precancerous cervical lesions. 6 Women in prison have a higher incidence of mental disorders than do women in the community, and mental health was the fourth focus of the NIC study. One-quarter of women in state prisons have been identified as suffering from mental illness. 57 The major diagnoses of mental illness are depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance abuse. Female offenders have histories of abuse that are associated with psychological trauma, and PTSD is a psychiatric condition often seen in women who have experienced sexual abuse and other trauma. Symptoms of PTSD include depression, low self-esteem, insomnia, panic, nightmares, and flashbacks.
Approximately 75% of women who have serious mental illness also suffer from substance-abuse disorders, and about one-quarter of all women in state prisons are receiving medication for psychological disorders. A total of 22. 3% of women in jail have been diagnosed with PTSD, 13. 7% have been diagnosed with a current episode of depression, and about 17% are receiving medication for psychological disorders. 58 Women with serious mental illness and co-occurring disorders experience significant difficulties in jail and prison settings, and the lack of appropriate assessment of and treatment for women with mental health issues is an ongoing problem in correctional settings. 59 Children and marital status were identified as a fifth important life circumstance by the NIC study.
Eighty percent of women entering prison are mothers, and 85% of those women had custody of their children at the time of admission. Approximately 70% of all women under correctional supervision have at least one child younger than age 18. Two-thirds of incarcerated women have minor children; about two-thirds of women in state prisons and half of women in federal prisons had lived with their young children before entering prison. One out of four women entering prison has either recently given birth or is pregnant. Pregnant inmates, many of whom are drug users, malnourished, or sick, often receive little prenatal care—a situation that risks additional complications. In 2007, 1. million American children had a parent in prison. 60 The number of mothers who are incarcerated has more than doubled in the past 15 years, from 29,500 in 1991 to 65,600 in 2007. Statistically speaking, one out of every 43 American children has a parent in prison today, and ethnic variation in the numbers are striking. While only one out of every 111 white children has experienced the imprisonment of a parent, one out of every 15 black children has had that experience. Moreover, between 1991 and 2007, the number of incarcerated fathers rose 76%, while the number of incarcerated mothers increased by 122%. Separation from their children is a significant deprivation for many women.
Although husbands or boyfriends may assume responsibility for the children of their imprisoned partners, this outcome is the exception to the rule. Eventually, many children of imprisoned mothers are placed into foster care or are put up for adoption. The effects of parental incarceration on children can be significant. A number of studies have shown that the children of incarcerated mothers experience alienation, hostility, anger, significant feelings of abandonment, and overall dysfunction. They are much less likely to succeed in school than their peers and are far more likely to involve themselves in gangs, sexual misconduct, and overall delinquency. 61 Some states offer parenting classes for female inmates with children.
In a national survey of prisons for women, 36 states responded that they provide parenting programs that deal with caretaking, reducing violence toward children, visitation problems, and related issues. 62 Some offer play areas furnished with toys, while others attempt to alleviate difficulties M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 501 Prison Life CHAPTER 14 501 attending mother–child visits. The typical program studied meets for two hours per week and lasts from four to nine weeks. Of children whose fathers are incarcerated, approximately 90% live with their mothers; however, only 25% of the children of female offenders live with their fathers. Grandparents are most likely to be the caregivers of the children of female offenders. Approximately 10% of these children are in foster care or group homes.
More than half of the children of female prisoners never visit their mothers during the period of incarceration. 63 The lack of visits is due primarily to the remote location of prisons, a lack of transportation, and the inability of caregivers to arrange visitation. Women under criminal justice supervision are more likely than the general population to have never been married. In one survey, nearly half of the women in jail and prison reported that they had never been married. 64 Forty-two percent of women on probation reported that they had never been married, and about 31% of women in prison reported that they were either separated or divorced.
Education and employment were the final life circumstances that the NIC study examined. An estimated 55% of women in local jails, 56% of women in state prisons, and 73% of women in federal prisons have a high school diploma. 65 Approximately 40% of the women in state prisons report that they were employed full-time at the time of their arrest. This compares with almost 60% of males. 66 About 37% of women and 28% of men had incomes of less than $600 per month prior to arrest. Most of the jobs held by women were low-skill entry-level jobs with low pay. Two-thirds of the women reported they had never held a job that paid more than $6. 50 per hour.
Women are less likely than men to have engaged in vocational training before incarceration. Those who did receive vocational training in the community tended to focus on traditional women’s jobs, such as cosmetology, clerical work, and food service. Gender Responsiveness Critics have long charged that female inmates face a prison system designed for male inmates and run by men. Consequently, meaningful prison programs for women are often lacking, and the ones that are in place were originally adapted from programs in men’s prisons or were based on traditional views of female roles that leave little room for employment opportunities in the contemporary world.
Many trade-training programs still emphasize low-paying jobs, such as cook, beautician, or laundry machine operator, and classes in homemaking are not uncommon. A central purpose of the NIC report on the female offender was to identify effective genderresponsive approaches for managing female prisoners. The study defined gender responsiveness as “creating an environment . . . that reflects an understanding of the realities of women’s lives and addresses the issues of women. ”67 The NIC report concluded with a call for recognition of the behavioral and social differences between female and male offenders—especially those that have specific implications for gender-responsive policies and practices.
Among the report’s recommendations are the following: The creation of an effective system for female offenders that is structured differently from a system for male offenders The development of gender-responsive policies and practices targeting women’s pathways to criminality in order to provide effective interventions that address the intersecting issues of substance abuse, trauma, mental health needs, and economic marginality The modification of criminal justice sanctions and interventions to recognize the low risk to public safety represented by the typical female offender The consideration of women’s relationships, especially those with their children, and women’s roles in the community in deciding appropriate correctional sanctions The NIC study concluded that gender-responsive correctional practices can improve outcomes for female offenders by considering their histories, behaviors, and life circumstances.
It also suggested that investments in gender-responsive policy and procedures will likely produce long-term dividends for the criminal justice system and the community as well as M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 502 502 PA R T 4 Corrections Library Extra 14–5 for female offenders and their families. Read the entire NIC report at Library Extra 14–5 at MyCrimeKit. com. Institutions for Women Most female inmates are housed in centralized state facilities known as women’s prisons, which are dedicated exclusively to incarcerating female felons. Some states, however, particularly those with small populations, continue to keep female prisoners in special wings of what are otherwise institutions for men.
Although there is not a typical prison for women, the American Correctional Association’s 1990 report by the Task Force on the Female Offender found that the institutions that house female inmates could be generally described as follows68: Most prisons for women are located in towns with fewer than 25,000 inhabitants. A significant number of facilities were not designed to house female inmates. Some facilities that house female inmates also house men. Few facilities for women have programs especially designed for female offenders. Few major disturbances or escapes are reported among female inmates. Substance abuse among female inmates is very high. Few work assignments are available to female inmates. Social Structure in Women’s Prisons Aside from sharing the experience of being incarcerated,” says Professor Marsha Clowers of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, “female prisoners have much in common. ”69 Because so many female inmates share social characteristics like a lack of education and a history of abuse, they often also share similar values and behaviors. Early prison researchers found that many female inmates construct organized pseudofamilies. Typical of such studies are D. Ward and G. Kassebaum’s Women’s Prison (1966),70 Esther Heffernan’s Making It in Prison (1972),71 and Rose Giallombardo’s Society of Women (1966). 72 Giallombardo, for example, examined the Federal Reformatory for Women at Alderson, West Virginia, spending a year gathering data in the early 1960s.
Focusing closely on the social formation of families among female inmates, she entitled one of her chapters “The Homosexual Alliance as a Marriage Unit. ” In it, she described in great detail the sexual identities assumed by women at Alderson and the symbols they chose to communicate those roles. Hairstyle, dress, language, and mannerisms were all used to signify “maleness” or “femaleness. ” Giallombardo detailed “the anatomy of the marriage relationship from courtship to ‘fall out,’ that is, from inception to the parting of the ways, or divorce. ”73 Romantic love at Alderson was of central importance to any relationship between inmates, and all homosexual relationships were described as voluntary. Through marriage, the “stud broad” became the husband and the “femme” the wife.
Studies attempting to document how many inmates are part of prison “families” have produced varying results. Some found as many as 71% of female prisoners involved in the phenomenon, while others found none. 74 The kinship systems described by Giallombardo and others, however, extend beyond simple “family” ties to the formation of large, intricately related groups that include many nonsexual relationships. In these groups, the roles of “children,” “in-laws,” “grandparents,” and so on may be explicitly recognized. Even “birth order” within a family can become an issue for kinship groups. 75 Kinship groups sometimes occupy a common household—usually a prison cottage or a dormitory area.
The descriptions of women’s prisons provided by authors like Giallombardo show a closed society in which all aspects of social interaction—including expectations, normative forms of behavior, and emotional ties—are regulated by an inventive system of artificial relationships that mirror those of the outside world. Many studies of female prisoners have shown that incarcerated women suffer intensely from the loss of affectional relationships once they enter prison and that they form homosexual liaisons to compensate for such losses. 76 Those liaisons then become the foundation of prison social organization. M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 503 Prison Life CHAPTER 14 503
Recently, Barbara Owen, professor of criminology at California State University, Fresno, conducted a study of female inmates at the Central California Women’s Facility (the largest prison for women in the world). Her book, “In the Mix”: Struggle and Survival in a Women’s Prison,77 describes the daily life of the inmates, with an emphasis on prison social structure. Owen found that prison culture for women is tied directly to the roles that women normally assume in free society as well as to other factors shaped by the conditions of women’s lives in prison and in the free world. Like Heffernan’s work, “In the Mix” describes the lives of women before prison and suggests that those lifestyles shape women’s adaptation to prison culture.
Owen found that preexisting economic marginalization, self-destructive behaviors, and personal histories of physical, sexual, and substance abuse may be important defining features of inmates’ lives before they enter prison. 78 She also discovered that the sentences that women have to serve, along with their work and housing assignments, effectively pattern their daily lives and relationships. Owen describes “the mix” as that aspect of prison culture that supports the rule-breaking behavior that propels women into crime and causes them to enter prison. Owen concludes that prison subcultures for women are very different from the violent and predatory structure of contemporary male prisons. 79 Like men, women experience “pains of imprisonment,” but their prison culture offers them other ways to survive and adapt to these deprivations.
A 2001 study of a women’s correctional facility in the southeastern United States found that female inmates asked about their preincarceration sexual orientation gave answers that were quite different than when A female inmate housed in the segregation unit of a Rhode Island correctional facility because of they were asked about their sexual orientation while incarcerated. 80 In disciplinary problems. The number of women in general, before being incarcerated, 64% of inmates interviewed reported prison is growing steadily. Why? being exclusively heterosexual, 28% said they were bisexual, and 8% said Richard Falco/Black Star that they were lesbians. In contrast, while incarcerated these same women reported sexual orientations of 55% heterosexual, 31% bisexual, and 13% lesbian. Researchers found that same-sex sexual behavior within the institution was more likely to occur in the lives of young inmates who had had such experiences before entering prison.
The study also found that female inmates tended to take part in lesbian behavior the longer they were incarcerated. Finally, a significant aspect of sexual activity far more commonly found in women’s prisons than in men’s prisons is sexual misconduct between staff and inmates. While a fair amount of such behavior is attributed to the exploitation of female inmates by male corrections officers acting from positions of power, some studies suggest that female inmates may sometimes attempt to manipulate unsuspecting male officers into illicit relationships in order to gain favors. 81 Types of Female Inmates As in institutions for men, the subculture of women’s prisons is multidimensional.
Esther Heffernan, for example, found that three terms used by the female prisoners she studied— the square, the cool, and the life—were indicative of three styles of adaptation to prison life. 82 Square inmates had few early experiences with criminal lifestyles and tended to sympathize with the values and attitudes of conventional society. Cool prisoners were more likely to be career offenders. They tended to keep to themselves and generally supported inmate values. Women who participated in the life subculture were quite familiar with lives of crime. Many had been arrested repeatedly for prostitution, drug use, theft, and so on. They were full participants in the economic, social, and familial arrangements of the prison.
Heffernan believed that the life offered an alternative lifestyle to women who had experienced early consistent rejection by conventional society. Within the life, women could establish relationships, achieve status, and find meaning in their lives. The square, the cool, and the life represented subcultures to Heffernan because individuals with similar M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 504 504 PA R T 4 Corrections adaptive choices tended to relate closely to one another and to support the lifestyle characteristic of that type. Recently, the social structure of women’s prisons has been altered by the arrival of “crack kids,” as they are called in prison argot. Crack kids, whose existence highlights generational ifferences among female offenders, are streetwise young women with little respect for traditional prison values, for their elders, or even for their own children. Known for frequent fights and for their lack of even simple domestic skills, these young women quickly estrange many older inmates, some of whom call them “animalescents. ” Violence in Women’s Prisons Female inmates in Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s “equal opportunity jail” in Maricopa County, Arizona, being inspected by a corrections officer before leaving for chain-gang duty. Not all states make use of chain gangs, and only a few use female inmates on chain gangs. Should jail chain gangs be more widely used? Jack Kurtz/The Image Works Some authors suggest that violence in women’s prisons is less frequent than it is in institutions for men.
Lee Bowker observes that “except for the behavior of a few ‘guerrillas,’ it appears that violence is only used in women’s prisons to settle questions of dominance and subordination when other manipulative strategies fail to achieve the desired effect. ”83 It appears that few homosexual liaisons are forced, perhaps representing a general aversion among women to such victimization in wider society. At least one study, however, has shown the use of sexual violence in women’s prisons as a form of revenge against inmates who are overly vocal in their condemnation of lesbian practices among other prisoners. 84 Not all abuse occurs at the hands of inmates. In 1992, 14 corrections officers, ten men and four women, were indicted for the alleged abuse of female inmates at the 900-bed Women’s Correctional Institute in Hardwick, Georgia.
The charges resulted from affidavits filed by 90 female inmates alleging “rape, sexual abuse, prostitution, coerced abortions, sex for favors, and retaliation for refusal to participate” in such activities. 85 One inmate who was forced to have an abortion after becoming pregnant by a male staff member said, “As an inmate, I simply felt powerless to avoid the sexual advances of staff and to refuse to have an abortion. ”86 To address the problems of imprisoned women, including violence, the Task Force on the Female Offender recommended a number of changes in the administration of prisons for women. 87 Among those recommendations were these: Substance-abuse programs should be available to female inmates. Female inmates need to acquire greater literacy skills, and literacy programs should form the basis on which other programs are built.
Female offenders should be housed in buildings without male inmates. Institutions for women should develop programs for keeping children in the facility in order to “fortify the bond between mother and child. ” To ensure equal access to assistance, institutions should be built to accommodate programs for female offenders. Review: Prison Life: Two Persectives Library Extra 14–6 Library Extra 14–7 Learn more about women in prison and their special needs at Library Extras 14–6 and 14–7 at MyCrimeKit. com. THE STAFF WORLD The flip side of inmate society can be found in the world of the prison staff, which includes many people working in various professions.
Staff roles encompass those of warden, psychologist, counselor, area supervisor, program director, instructor, corrections officer, and—in some large prisons—physician and therapist. According to the federal government, approximately 748,000 people are employed in corrections,88 with the majority performing direct custodial tasks in state institutions: 62% of corrections employees work for state governments, followed by 33% at the local level and M14_SCHM4091_11_SE_CH14. qxd 11/21/09 5:04 AM Page 505 Prison Life CHAPTER 14 505 5% at the federal level. 89 On a per capita basis, the District of Columbia has the most state and local corrections employees (53. 3 per every 10,000 residents), followed by Texas (43. 8). 0 Across the nation, 70% of corrections officers are Caucasian, 22% are African American, and slightly more than 5% are Hispanic. 91 Women account for 20% of all corrections officers, with the proportion of female officers increasing at around 19% per year. The American Correctional Association (ACA) encourages correctional agencies to “ensure