Controversies in Criminal Justice Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Pelican Bay State Prison: War Zone

How does the video you selected support a social structure theory?

One social structure theory relates and highlights all the happenings in this video. Social disorganization theory appears to dominate the entire movie. This concept represents social change, lack of social agreement, and social conflict as the main causes of criminal activity and deviance; it is carefully associated with the environmental theory of criminology. Poverty is regarded to be the minimum stage or point in our social society. On the poverty stage, there are high levels of lack of employment, drug use and addiction, criminal activity and people without abilities to discover efficient and permanent employment. It does not imply that this does not exist in the higher stages of our society: they exist although the magnitudes are significantly lower. Absence of education is attributed to learners who fail to be successful in the school system. They drop out rather than choose to continue to battle to learn necessary abilities to graduate. The absence of marketable abilities comes from learners who drop out of university before graduating and are left to the streets to search manual work if any work at all (Decker, Alarid & Katz, 2013).

The movie informs of the permeable characteristics of penitentiaries, and specifically, of the relationship between prison life and street life. In this ethnography of inmate culture, the film notices that prisoners who grew up living by guidelines of the street find jail beneficial because it fortifies their "social identities as convicts and street gangsters." In such circumstances, popularity built up in jail can convert into a major resume on the streets. Although the film clearly linked the social styles between jail and street life, other researchers have developed this theory (Walsh & Hemmens, 2011).

The movie identifies the two primary ways that jails endanger society: The jail system tends to release ex-convicts who are often more dangerous than when they joined jail. Surprisingly, the released inmates take the aggressive modifications that happen in modern jails to the street. This creates a terrible circle of violence between the society and the prison system intended to stop violence. In this reasoning, one goes to jail and gradually returns to society, more harmful than before. Such information factors to an undertaking that jails can operate as incubators that breed violence within the jail and beyond (Decker, Alarid & Katz, 2013).

Prisoners are at risk or returning to jail after getting out. While this could overstate the point, the danger is clearly part of the prison life. The film has mentioned that new criminals convert to gangs for security once they are imprisoned. This security impact for those who become part of gangs can mean a lifetime dedication to a group. This results in the increase of resourceful people joining gangs as they leave the prison: on the street, one may have to perpetrate crime on behalf of the gang simply to prevent becoming a target of the group. Further, the same gang member is a common target for competing gangs (Walsh & Hemmens, 2011). Therefore, whether the threat comes from a person's own group or competitors, the vicious cycle recommends that an inextricable connection must prevail between activities in jail and what happens on the street. This pattern must be of great concern to all stakeholders.

What is the primary subject or content of the video?

The movie highlights some of the historical developments of the U. prison as background for a crucial evaluation of Pelican Bay State Prison. It explains the physical factors of Pelican Bay and the common circumstances of incarceration at the Security Housing Unit (SHU). This shows that the outcomes of sensory deprival on criminals within the SHU like the psychiatric and psychological repercussions breach the eighth Amendment. This movie contains incidences of offender psychosis, apparitions, self-mutilation, and claims that the deprivation of offender psychological health in this atmosphere comprises vicious and uncommon punishment (Stanley & Smith, 2011). In support of this conversation, the film also establishes the lawful predicates to a constitutional responsibility of Pelican Bay prison authorities. It concludes with a comment on the negative social outcomes that result when mentally damaged SHU prisoners are released straight into our towns and cities (Decker, Alarid & Katz, 2013).

From a social structure perspective, the connection that is expected to be available between punishment and crime must be broken. Punishment is not a simple impact of criminal activity, the opposite side of criminal activity, or a simple means, which is identified at the end of a simple term. Punishment must be recognized as a social trend free of both its juristic idea and its social ends. This refers to the formal goal of crime control so that it may be changed in the complete system of techniques like as social policies, targeted at controlling the poor (Decker, Alarid & Katz, 2013).

What social issues are raised in the video?

The social problems raised in this movie are the managing of gangs through the jail in many different methods. The gang leaders in Pelican Bay run drugs via communication strategies used while in jail. If an issue crops up, which requires to be addressed through killing, it is up to the group leader to make an order. Leaders at Pelican Bay would wish to close down the facility, but it is not as simple as it seems. The fight of keeping the group leader from operating the group still while in jail is more of a war instead of a fight (Walsh & Hemmens, 2011).

A prison sentence is one factor for a captive to have to cope with, but to be sentenced to jail and then spend lots of time in solitary confinement is another. The captive who has to cope with the solitary confinement ends up with a complete change of mind that eventually affects them for the rest of their life. This often occurs when the therapy received lacks the beneficial threshold or does not enhance their ability to reform as they seek to rejoin the society. The sentences coupled with solitary confinement sends the prisoners' thoughts further into a deeper setting that will make it hard for them to abandon their criminal lives (Stanley & Smith, 2011).

From the movie, the gang issue would be even more intense if SHU was inexistent. However, after nearly 20 years, there are now more criminals in solitary confinement than it ever has and the gang issue is more intense than it has ever been. For a long time, the rates of violence at Pelican Bay have been rising at an alarming rate. The movie raises worries that segregation makes criminals act badly. I cannot completely disagree that it may affect the criminals in some way. From the movie, it may make them mad for a while. Nevertheless, the advantage of these security-housing units is that people who go out there are taken, and locked up (Walsh & Hemmens, 2011). The removal from the mainline ensures that the prison can function as planned to the satisfaction of all stakeholders including the prisoners.

Prisoners are consistently excluded from social redistribution and public aid. This occurs at a time when work uncertainty creates access to such programs for individuals residing in the limited social space. Rules violate welfare payments, veterans' advantages and meal stamps to anyone in detention for over 60 days. The Work Opportunity and Personal Responsibility Act further banish most ex-convicts from State Medicaid programs, public housing and related types of support. The government happily launched unprecedented local, state and federal co-operation as well as new, impressive motivation programs (Stanley & Smith, 2011). It used the newest 'high-tech resources to weed out any inmate' who still obtained advantages, such as the payment of bounties to areas who quickly turn in providing information on their prison detainees to the Social Security management.

Nearly 95% of the criminals in Pelican Bay's SHU is planned to be released into the public at some point (Stanley & Smith, 2011). They will spend several weeks in local jails before rejoining society with little or no planning of how to stay around people on the outside worlds. Moreover, for every offender who leaves, there is another one patiently waiting to take his position.

What major principles of sociological theory are addressed in the video?

There are two primary principles that I see that are resolved in this movie. The two themes are absence of healthy home growing up and gang life being the only home these criminals of Pelican Bay has ever had. The criminals in Pelican Bay State Prison have never tasted any other life except the prison one. The gang violence life establishes a regular foundation in prison. In fact, the gang leader, even controls the killings of some people working against the group: this threatens the group seems threatened in some way. The group associates and leaders in this prison know where they belong and are willing to sacrifice their…

Sources Used in Document:


Decker, S.H., Alarid, L.F., & Katz, C.M. (2013). Controversies in criminal justice: Contemporary readings. Los Angeles: Roxbury Pub. Co.

Stanley, E.A., & Smith, N. (2011). Captive genders: Trans embodiment and the prison industrial complex. Oakland, CA: AK Press.

Walsh, A., & Hemmens, C. (2011). Introduction to criminology: A text/reader. Thousand Oaks, Calif: SAGE

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