Prison Culture: Cultural Rewards and Cultural Punishments    by     Ruth Utnage

Every society has things it values. Morals, beliefs, material and spiritual things. Prison is its own society. There is a caste system (which, in reality, is not what modern science believes it is) and there is standards, common beliefs and norms. Along with a unique culture, prison has its own set of cultural rewards and punishments and they are not what you might think.

My goal in life, my “reason for being” (as it turns out) is to educate fellow community leaders about this very thing. You see, science has a civil rights chokehold on it when it comes to prisoners and therefore a limited set of data to pull from, incomplete data to be precise. This incomplete data has been used to structure and restructure rehabilitative theories for 200 years in America, unsuccessfully I might add. No wonder when you experience prison as opposed to interview prisoners or observe them.

Put another way, imagine what scientists would know about gorillas and the problems (and solutions) in conservation if a scientist was a gorilla themselves? Data was limited to observation until living among gorillas was possible, only then did researchers discover quite complex societies within primates. Inmates are not primates, to be clear, but my point is well illustrated nonetheless.

What are prisons rewards and punishments then?

In a short answer, community contact. Communication with people whom are not incarcerated is the number one reward for inmates. Those with large amounts of community contact fare better in the prison caste system, no matter charges or adherence to the repulsive and disgusting “convict code”. This is true because this person has the potential to connect a lonely and possibly socially inept inmate to someone who will legitimize their very existence by simply writing a letter.

Keep looking for articles like these from me as I will be spending my resources in identifying and naming this world and then, true to my personal mission, will give that information back to you.

Be informed, accurately, and maybe as a society we can make changes that are in our real best interests.

Be active and form an opinion. Without one someone else is deciding what you should feel and how you should react.

We deserve a government that has our best interests in mind, not the status quo. Our community is changing, so should our prison system. That doesn’t mean destroy it, it means making changes for all of our best interests.

Just saying, it’s possible because I’m Possible, not impossible.

With Love
Ruth Utnage

Contact Info:

To contact me you must be a humanist…

“A real humanist can be identified more by his trust in the people, which engages him in their struggle, then by a thousand actions in their favor without that trust.” (“Pedagogy of the Oppressed” by Paulo Freire )