The Grass Seems Greener Inside Stanley Prison

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December 10, 2010
The Grass Seems Greener inside Stanley Prison
When I walked into Stanley Correctional Institution (prison) for the first time there were so many mixed emotions running through my body. Part of me was scared for my life and the other part of me was trying to be brave. As I walked past the base security into the facility, there was a lot of fencing as well as a lot of prison guards. The prison guards looked extremely intimidating which made me feel a bit more comfortable subsiding the fact that I was about to enter the “devil’s holding place”. As I moved past the layers of security, I remember feeling nervous. Our first stop was the main security office where all the prisoners’ documents and the security staff’s offices were located. After that, it was time to start the nerve-racking part of the tour. As we were let out of the last set of doors, Cheryl Webster, the activites director at Stanley Correctional Institute Activities director at Stanley warned us about possible behavioral situations which instantly had me worried. Five minutes after we walked outside I surprisingly felt very comfortable. There were prisoners walking all around us and I was impressed on how well behaved they were. All of them seemed so nice and calm. Soon after we moved from the outer common area, we were then lead into an actual cell located in the housing corridor. Although the room was small, I noticed a television, sink, and radio along with a surprisingly clean overall appearance. Viewing these luxuries, I quickly learned how the prison life must not be as bad as I thought it was. The living conditions could not be any more different than what I had expected. All inmates were fed three times a day, had the opportunity to shower, and the individual cells looked exactly like the dorms at UW Eau Claire. The cells were a little smaller but still replicated the dorms pretty well. Right as I walked in there was two beds on top of each other, along with a sink, a toilet, and a small desk to put materials on and/or read and write. There was hardly enough room to do anything besides sleep, and write which is what simulates the dorms the most. In today’s society, prisons are looked at as dirty, filthy places that people who choose to break the law are sent to. When law-breakers are sent to prison, they exclude themselves from society. They become a member of their own society. Inmates receive no help from the outside world when incarcerated; that is how our government decided to discipline people who choose to break the law. Some may view this as unfair, however it has been a successful method for many years. People encompass this negative representation of prisons due to how television portrays the prison environment. Negative, hopeless and overcrowded are common adjectives perceived from the media. Although society as a whole believes prisons are dirty filthy places, most disregard the bigger picture of overpopulation amongst many prisons in the U.S. The United States incarceration rate exceeds that of other industrialized nations by five times more with almost 2.3 million people behind bars and another five million on parole or probation (Bower, 2). During current times, California has acquired the biggest prison overpopulation problem among all the states (Gulags in the Sun-page 1). Taking into consideration California’s size, it’s almost expected that crime rates would increase with the increase in population. When a person thinks of California it usually reminds them of opportunity and celebrities. At least that is what the media portrays the environment as. Everybody wants to go to the west coast and become a professional actor or musical artists. The media drools over the ideal Hollywood lifestyle. Rarely do they show the unconstructive version of the “Golden state”. In the article titled “Gulags in the sun” the author goes into depth about the prison problem in the state of California....
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