While violence has been declining in society at large, it remains a serious problem in American prisons. In 2015, there were over 740 reported assaults per 100,000 inmates in state and federal prisons, and the number of homicides was nearly double that.
The majority of prison violence is perpetrated by gangs. Gangs are often involved in drug trafficking, which can lead to violent turf wars. They also engage in other criminal activity, such as extorting money from other inmates. In some cases, gangs will target individuals who don’t belong to any group for robbery or other reasons.
Prisoners who are isolated from the general population are also more likely to be victims of violence. This includes prisoners who are held in solitary confinement, as well as those who are in protective custody or segregated housing units.
Several factors contribute to the high level of violence in American prisons. These include the design of prisons, the culture of gangs, and the policies and practices of prison staff.
Prison design can play a role in violence levels. For example, overcrowding can lead to tension and conflict among inmates. Poorly designed buildings can also make it difficult for guards to monitor what is happening inside the prison.
The culture of gangs can also contribute to violence. Gangs often have codes of conduct that encourage violence as a way to resolve disputes. They also tend to be very territorial, which can lead to violent confrontations with other gangs.
Finally, the policies and practices of prison staff can also impact violence levels. For example, the use of excessive force by guards can escalate tensions and lead to more violence. In some cases, prisons fail to adequately investigate incidents of violence, which can send a message that such behavior is tolerated.
Public Opinion and Consequences
The public opinion of prisons in America is quite negative. A large majority of Americans believe that prisons are overcrowded, unsafe, and poorly managed. This negative view of prisons can have several consequences.
For one, it can make it more difficult to recruit and retain prison staff. In an environment where the public perception is that prisons are dangerous places to work, it can be hard to find people who are willing to take on such a job.
Negative public opinion can also lead to reduced funding for prisons. When the public views prisons as unsuccessful, they are less likely to support measures that would provide more funding for them. This can result in even more problems with overcrowding, safety, and management.
Finally, negative public opinion can impact the ability of prisoners to reintegrate into society. When the public views prisoners as dangerous and violent, they are less likely to support policies that would help them find jobs and housing after they are released from prison. This can make it more likely that they will re-offend, which furthers the cycle of violence in our prisons.
Despite the challenges, it is important to remember that prisons are an essential part of our justice system. They play a vital role in keeping our communities safe, and we need to work together to ensure that they are safe places for both inmates and staff. Several things can be done to reduce violence in American prisons. These include improved prison design, increased staff training, and better cooperation between prisons and local law enforcement. With a commitment to making positive changes, we can improve the safety and security of our prisons and create a more positive public opinion of them. e can make our prisons safer for everyone involved.