Behind a Convict's Eyes Opinion Paper

Topics: Prison, Convict, Penal transportation Pages: 5 (1855 words) Published: February 8, 2011
In my experience of reading the text, Behind a Convicts Eyes, I have learned many things about prison life. It has in fact changed my perception of what I thought prison life was like. Prison is in fact a fight for survival, and the weaker inmates will be used and abused by the stronger population. To clarify what I mean, many of the weaker prisoners are sometimes expected to pay for protection from other inmates, or they join prison gangs to be safe. According to the text, it would appear that the inmates actually have more control over their existence than I would have thought that they do. When I use this term, I mean it in the sense that the inmates use the system to their advantage, or at least those who know how to work the system. According to the text Behind the Convicts Eyes, p. 20, it describes the process in which inmates will actually manipulate the tests and clinical physicians to obtain medication in which they can then use to get “high” or sell for profit. 

Another factor that changed my perspective on how inmates live within prison was the economy which surrounds their survival. This is focused primarily on “food, water, cigarettes and survival, also known as the basics of life.” (Behind a Convict’s Eyes, p.22) The primary focus of inmates is based upon the inmate economy. Some of these issues include things such as being on a set budget. The text spoke of living on a set amount of $130.00 per month on average. This amount of money would be considered far below the poverty level in society but with the consideration that the inmates do not pay for housing or other expenses that people in the free society do, it would seem like it would be enough. For those who do have a limited amount of money, they use the bartering system. (Behind a Convicts Eyes, p. 73). Bartering can be used to obtain almost anything that that you need during your stay in prison. Some of the things that were traded were leather belts and buckles, tobacco, food and laundry services. 

In fact many things that we as a society take for granted are very significant in the lives of inmates. Many of us take for granted that we have privacy in our homes, which we can eat when we are hungry, and can decide what we want to eat. We also have our freedom to come and go as we want. After reading chapter nine in the text Behind a Convicts Eyes, it truly gave me the impression of how few freedoms people in prisons have. The inmates were especially excited when they cooked a chicken for Christmas Eve. For most people, this would not even be an issue, because many of us celebrate the holidays with large feasts and surrounded by our loved ones. 

One of the prison strategies used by Anonymous was the technique such as “minding your own business.” He felt that by staying out of matters that did not pertain to him he was able to avoid conflicts. Anonymous also referred to the term prison proper. He discussed how learning the prison language was an ongoing experience, but also the importance of knowing the language. The language was essential because without it he would be unable to communicate effectively with the other inmates. 

Anonymous also learned that using the word “punk” was a queue to fight with another inmate. This was also tied into the prison language, and the term of spreading your wings, which meant the willingness to fight. (p.25) It was important that Anonymous as well as the other inmates were aware of this terminology because they could get themselves into a lot of trouble otherwise. 

The inmates maintained a façade of strength because being manly is far more important than showing emotion, which is a sign of weakness. (p.28). There was a continual discussion throughout the text about the importance of a reputation. The reputation was said to “make or break you” and the worst type of reputation to have was that of a “snitch”. (Chapter 4) Anonymous realized the importance of having a...
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