Most people have no idea what it feels like to be in prison, statistically only one out of every five people will know what its like to be in prison. Approximately 1.4 million people out of the U.S.'s 280 million people are in prison. (Thomas, 2) The only reason people know about prisons is because of the media. The news, movies, and books all contribute to people's stereotypes about prisons. Prisoners receive three meals a day, workout facilities, a library, as well as other things. People are also given the idea, through the mass media, that prisoners are free to walk around certain parts of the prison. All of these ideas are cast upon prisons so that people will not be afraid of them. Society has been given the idea that prisons are not very bad on the inside. What is prison life really like? The mass media uses prison life as the source for movies and television shows. Over the years there have been many movies written about prison but the most prominent in my mind is Frank Darabont's, The Shawshank Redemption. Throughout the film there are many examples of the falsities of prison life. There are some elements of truth but they are out weighed by the misconceptions. Numerous prisoners are allowed to walk around the prison and the prison yard with no guards in sight. In actuality there are always guards around, especially on the inside. The prisoner's movement through the prison is highly restricted. In many prisons there is some corruption but in the movie there is an exceptionally large amount. It appears that it is very easy for the prisoners to smuggle contra ban into the prison. Morgan Freeman's character "Red" is able to get just about anything, posters, cigarettes, etc. In today's prison system it is not something that is openly discussed, but it is not nearly as easy as it appears to smuggle things into the prison.
The television show "OZ" on HBO, is another good example of how the mass media sugarcoats prisons. The inmates live in a fictional prison called Oswald Correctional Facility, in which they have created a test program called Emerald City. Emerald City is a part of the prison that is separate from the general population. The prisoners are allowed a great deal of freedom. They have television, games (i.e. checkers), computer facilities, a library, and a full gym. There are some ideas that are accurate from the show but the inaccuracies out weigh the accuracies. The prisoners are basically allowed to walk though Emerald City with very little supervision.
Although it is difficult for someone who has not been in prison to give an accurate portrayal of prison life, I shall, through my reading, attempt to describe some aspects of real prison life. The primary goal of prison is to punish and rehabilitate criminals. The prisoners are denied the simpler pleasures of life that most people take for granted. Prisons use deprivation of outside contact in order to accomplish rehabilitation. Traditionally, prisons are constructed of concrete walls and floors, iron bars, and very few windows this creates a dull and dreary environment. The prisoners are always under some sort of surveillance by officers (closed-circuit television or officers who circulate through the population), are counted several times a day and are subject to personal searches as they circulate though the prison. (Jones, 10) The inmates are divided into separate living areas depending on what they are doing within the prison. They live in different cellblocks according to where they work (i.e. laundry, kitchen, etc.), if they are in and educational program, if they are parole violators, if they have a high escape risk, if they have violated any of the instuitions rules, etc. (Jones, 12) Prisoners are allowed to work within the prison walls and are paid to do so. They usually receive a flat rate per day depending on what job they do. Some of the money they earn is given...
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