Realities of incarceration from an Inmate Perspective


Realitiesof incarceration from an Inmate Perspective

Realitiesof incarceration from an Inmate Perspective

Prisonconfinement stands out as one of the most widely used behaviorcorrection method in the world today. A society with its own culturesand organizations within itself, prisons are thus a somewhat complexyet relatively smaller community whose real understanding would bebest acquired through the eye of a member of this society theinmate.

Realitiesof incarceration

Beingpart of the prisoner society is not by invitation and the first partof this book clearly describes life in prison as “survival”.First of all, initial adaptation is a challenge to the first-timerswhose prior perceptions about prison life become a thought offantasy, replaced by reality of the need to adapt to the newenvironment, lifestyle, behavior and practices. These are termed asthe “rites of passage” that a new prisoner would have to undergoin the initial stages of the prison sentence. The problem of learningprison language can also be identified. With inmates from differentparts of the world came the development of prison slang.Communication becomes a problem that has to be overcome by continuous“education” as the language keeps acquiring new additional terms.

Thesecond part of this book looks at the life in prison including theaspect of prisoners relinquishing their control entirely to theprison administration as well as the absence of heterosexualrelationships is shown to have damaging results including same sexrelationships which could either be consensual or coerced and rapecases. In addition, there is a realization that dawns upon a prisoneras the years go by, where unlike the outside world where one can havechildren, participate in their up-bringing, work, save money, investin business or enjoy vacations with the hard-earned money, this isdifferent. The prisoner has to erase such thoughts from the mind andconcentrate on the immediate surroundings, focus on survival and theimmediate needs. An economic perspective has also been incorporatedin this part, with the revelation that unemployment is possible inthe prison.

Violenceeruption has been implied as a disease in the third part ofCarceral’s book whose magnitude and frequency cannot be fullycomprehended albeit described to an extent by the writer. Describedbest as “survival for the fittest”, the prison conditionsfacilitated the groupings of gangs based on race further fuelled byhatred and racism leading to violent responses. In the end someprisoners could physically harmed or even killed in the process.


Itis through this vivid illustration of prison life in this book thatwe get an in-depth illustration of real events taking place withinthe walls of correctional facilities. The experience is unforgettableand will most probably remain engraved in the memories of the men andwomen incarcerated in prisons for their respective convicted crimes.The outcome of this imprisonment can be felt by the families, friendsand the community during and after the prison sentence, but the realscars will forever remain in the hearts of the incarcerated.


Carceral,K. C. (2004). Behinda Convict`s Eyes: Doing Time in a Modern Prison.California: Wadsworth Publishing.