Prison Reformation

REBUTTAL NEEDED:
Given our understanding of how prison situations act on the mind of the individual (as demonstrated by the Zimbardo study), what recommendations or changes would you suggest for our nation’s prison environments? (In answering this, please be sure to note concepts from the sections of the chapter that directly discuss this).

The Zimbardo experiment demonstrated the significance of power dynamics and social roles in behavior, beliefs, and attitudes. The Zimbardo experiment demonstrated the destructive effects of power imbalance on both the guards and prisoners. Several of the guards showed “sadistic” behavior, and several of the prisoners experienced psychological trauma, with some having to be released from the experiment early. The prisoners’ emotional responses ranged from anger, rage, and depression. The prison experiment seemed to mimic the “custodial prison environment.” The ASP text suggests that one recommendation for prison reform is to embrace the concept of a “therapeutic community.”  This type of incarceration would focus on growth and development to decrease recidivism, rather than enforcing power-dynamics that illicit negative emotions. The therapeutic community more closely resembles reality, and therefore is more likely to be a place for fostering personal growth while simulating real-world dynamics. The custodial prison environment has been shown to be ineffective at reducing the risk of recidivism and is ineffective at rehabilitation, with many prisoners who are released reoffending. As the text noted, the environment of the prison or incarceration system should be based on the needs of the offender. If the offender is motivated to make positive changes and will eventually reenter society, they should have the opportunity for rehabilitation through therapeutic community. Alternatively, if a person will never reenter society (based on murder or other life sentence), their violent past indicates they may require a “system maintenance and system change” environment. In this way, the type of prison environment should be tailored to the likelihood of re-entry into society based on the sentence and the crime.

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Gruman, J. A., Frank W. Schneider, and Larry M. Coutts. 2017. Applied Social Psychology: Understanding and Addressing Social and Practical Problems. Thousand Oaks: CA. Sage.

 

 

 

REBUTTAL NEEDED:
Given our understanding of how prison situations act on the mind of the individual (as demonstrated by the Zimbardo study), what recommendations or changes would you suggest for our nation’s prison environments? (In answering this, please be sure to note concepts from the sections of the chapter that directly discuss this).

In regard to prison reformation – ASP expresses two sentiments. First, prisons have a social climate, which in some broad sense could be stated as the personality of the prison. Additionally, ASP does not expressly state it, but I took from the reading that it preferred therapeutic communities, which are residential facilities that encourage personal growth and development of its occupants. Ultimately, therapeutic communities aim to curb deviant behavior by changing the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of individuals to a more adaptable or normative lifestyle when freed – opposed to the deviant lifestyle that ended with them in prison. For me, I think there needs to be more therapeutic community elements in the prison, but I am not of mind that it needs to be entirely a therapeutic community. I believe the changing of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors is paramount for prisoners, but not at an expense to the social climate of the prison (i.e. the realization you’re in prison). Zimbardo mentioned in the video that human behavior is under the control and influenced by trivial things like roles, rules, symbols, uniforms. In that sense, I’d change the prison guard uniforms. I would conduct research into the most non-combative or threatening uniforms quantitatively and qualitatively and have multiple redesigns done, and then the prison guards would wear that. This would be an attempt to change behaviors or lessen the power dynamics. Lastly, I think the biggest component of my prison reformation would be what we send people to prison for to begin with, but I suppose that’s a different conversation. 

 

For more information on Prison Reformation read this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prison_reform

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