Managing aggressive behaviors in prison and preventing the instances of violence is a critical issue that warrants a serious discussion. Although prisoners, in general, might not evoke much sympathy in most law-abiding citizens, it is essential to ensure that inmates’ rights are recognized and met fully. Thus, preventing the instances of abusive treatment or any injuries from occurring in the prison setting should be a priority. Therefore, the problem of violence toward younger inmates from older ones should be scrutinized as an important issue that has to be addressed.
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Violence and Age Difference between Inmates
Aggressive behaviors among prison inmates have been the subject of numerous controversies and the area of concern for a while. According to Williams, certain types of inmates are prone to violent and unjust treatment from others to a considerable degree. Specifically, Williams states that “A mentally ill man on suicide watch hanged himself, gang members were allowed to beat other prisoners.” Therefore, there are significant reasons to assume that violence in the prison setting is directly correlated to the age gap between prisoners.
In addition, the current school-to-prison pipeline creates significant impediments for young people that have been sentenced to serving time to change their lives and behaviors. Specifically, the primary flaw of the present-day justice system is that instead of rehabilitating criminals, it focuses on punishing them and preventing them from integrating into the society afterward. As a result, prisoners tend to change their behaviors and develop the propensity toward violence that would not be tolerated in the society.
Analysis of the Issue: What Evidence Shows
The existing evidence exhibits a rather troubling tendency among prisoners to treat their younger inmates with aggression, violence, and disrespect that affect the vulnerable group extensively. Apart from physical harm that young people are likely to sustain as a result of the specified trend, there is also the threat of psychological harm. Specifically, young people may fail to recover from the abuse that they suffer in prisons, thus carrying the acquired notion of interpersonal relationships into their life after they are released from prison (Lahey). Consequently, young people that have experienced aggression and violence while being in prison may possibly transfer the acquired behaviors to their personal life, affecting not only their social development but also the lives of other people around them.
The recent evidence also indicates that the issue with control over the security and safety of criminals within prisons enhances the problem of abuse. For instance, the lack of opportunity for supervising the actions of inmates contributes to the rise in the levels of abuse toward younger prisoners: “Testimony has described dangerous conditions, confused lines of oversight and difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified staff” (Williams).
The current situation can be described as dire, with little to no chance for introducing any semblance of justice for younger prisoners that suffer from abuse regularly/y. Thus, alterations have to be made on legal, administrative, and social levels.
Solutions to the Concern: Keeping Adults and Young People Separately
When considering the solutions that can be suggested to address the concern described above, one should focus on the introduction of age differentiation as the key strategy toward reducing aggression in prisons. Since there is a propensity for violence rates among inmates to rise along with the age difference, keeping younger prisoners apart from older ones should be treated as a possible solution to the problem.
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In addition, the system of control over the relationships between inmates should be shaped toward a more rigid framework. It is critical to install surveillance devices and introduce communication channels to make sure that the administration of prisons remains aware of the issues and conflicts arising in their environment. The proposed technique will imply significant changes to the existing legal and administrative standards for managing the needs of inmates. Particularly, a set of guidelines concerning different age groups that should not be combined, as well as humanistic values, should be promoted as the platform for addressing the issue of inmate violence.
Possible Issues: Determining the Age Boundaries
Although the proposed solution for reducing the rates of violence among inmates toward younger ones seems legitimate, it also raises certain questions, the key one being the age of prisoners. Specifically, one needs not only to draw a distinct line between age groups in prisons but also justify the specified decision, which is a rather complicated task. Indeed, the criteria for considering some prisoners young and others older is very vague. It is comparatively difficult to determine at which point the age gap between inmates becomes the cause of violent and abusive behaviors. Arguably, research regarding the subject matter could provide some insights, yet the lack of clarity is likely to remain in place.
In addition, the suggested solution of splitting inmates into narrow age groups does not guarantee that violence would not occur within the specified groups either. Reducing the age gap will not eliminate it completely, some prisoners still being older than others. Specifically, there is a possibility that inmates will find other criteria for discrimination within the prison setting and, thus continue abusing the rights of less fortunate ones (Lahey).
In other words, unless the conditions in which inmates live in prisons are improved, the threat of violence toward younger age groups will remain high even with the introduction of age-based policies within the target setting.
In order to avoid the specified outcome, one will need to improve the environment in which inmates are kept, as well as introduce a system of rigid control over the relationships between prisoners. An elaborate reporting system that will help people suffering from age-based discrimination and abuse in prison to receive timely and consistent help will be needed. Once the proposed measures are introduced into the modern prison settings, the probability of abusive behaviors toward younger prisoners will be reduced.
The problem of violence toward younger inmates in prisons remains a concern that calls or the introduction of age-based policies toward the location of prisoners. With the integration of an improved system of control and management of inmates’ needs, one will reduce the threat of injuries and traumas within the described environment. Moreover, with the drop in the levels of abuse, the possibility of the target population to integrate back into society after release from the prison will increase exponentially.
Therefore, changing the existing policies within the prison setting is strongly recommended. As soon as the values of the contemporary legal system are shaped toward rehabilitating criminals and offering them a chance to become decent members of society, the problem of abuse in prisons will become manageable.
Lahey, Jessica. “The Steep Costs of Keeping Juveniles in Adult Prisons.” The Atlantic. 2016. Web.
Williams, Timothy. “Inside a Private Prison: Blood, Suicide and Poorly Paid Guards.” New York Times. 2018. Web.