A Prisoners Tale of Prison
A prison is a penal institution administered by the state or federal government. It is a place for the confinement of persons convicted of criminal offenses and is therefore part of a larger penal system, which includes other aspects of criminal justice such as courts, law enforcement, and crime labs. Nevertheless, many people are critical of the US’s prison system the idea of locking up those who commit crimes against a society simply to keep them from doing harm. Many say that more rehabilitation is necessary to improve these individuals and, therefore, society as a whole. Although there are many aspects in regards to prison life, I plan to discuss what it is like to be an inmate in the California prison system.
There are many prisons in the state of California. The most popular prison in California is San Quentin State Prison. San Quentin is a maximum level prison; with a current population of 5967 inmates. San Quentin holds a wide variety of inmates. These inmates are repeated criminals, murders, or gangs members. There are numerous gangs in San Quentin. The list of gangs are Black Guerrilla Family, Aryan Brotherhood, Mexican Mafia (La Eme), Texas Syndicate, La Nuestra Familia, Asian Tong, Mongols, Varrio Sureno Locos, Hells Angels, 18th Street, Nazi Low Riders, Two Two Boys, Crips (Westside 18 GIB). Those are just to name a few gangs that are in San Quentin. San Quentin is a state prison that has a Death Row. They have two options for death row personnel lethal injection or lethal gas. San Quentin is famous for housing some of the most ruthless, dangerous criminals, such as Robert Walter Scully, Stanley "Tookie" Williams (San Quentin Prison, 2006). Prison life is not a normal life. You are always incarcerated with other inmates. Once you are brought to prison you are processed and screened. You are checked for any weapons, narcotics and any other dangerous materials. Once you are “stripped searched”, you are then screened according to your history of violence, in other words whether or not you were a gang member you will be housed in accordance to your background (criminal offenses). A prime example is if you have gang-affiliated background you will be placed in a gang section. Another example is that of San Quentin, all new inmates are processed and placed in their section and headed to what is called West Block. It is the area where new inmates go and are housed in their cells. The blocks so to speak are five tier buildings that can house up to two or three inmates at one time. In prison you are being watched every minute. While in prison you have recreation time, which is time outside to walk, lift weights, and exercise. When it dinner time you are brought one tier at a time. San Quentin has solitary confinement, which is no communication with outside or other inmates. They call this the “hole”. San Quentin is an old prison that is still active today. The difference between San Quentin and modern day prisons is San Quentin is one of the oldest prisons today. They have very minimal technology for this prison (Inside San Quentin, 2005). All cells are to be unlocked one by one and opened simultaneously by a handle.
Each prison has programs to rehabilitate an inmate that is trying to change. Such rehab programs are workshop related, on job training. Some programs give prisoners a job working with the prison staff doing minor upgrades and fixing minor repairs. These programs are to help an inmate get back on their feet and adjust to society. For example, San Quentin has The San Quentin Drama Workshop (Berton, 2008); San Quentin SQUIRES (San Quentin Utilization of Inmate Resources, Experiences, and Studies) program, which is a program that began in 1964; it is reported to be the oldest juvenile awareness program in the United States. It involves inmates at the prison interacting with troubled youths for the purpose of deterring them from crime....