Imprisonment and Detention FOrum #2

Brief overview of the prison life

This news clip gives a brief overview of life in prison (Mastis, 2008):

There isn’t anything like a “typical day” in a prison. A popular saying amongst inmates: “The only thing consistent about prison is change.”(Cavitt, 2012). Although prison life may differ from prison-to-prison, day-to-day and person-to-person, this timetable may provide a general insight into prison operations (“24 Hours in Prison”, n.d.):

Minimum Security

Minimum security prisons prepare inmates, who are within five years of release, so that they can adjust and return to the community . They are typically assigned supervised jobs and may often even leave the prison for work assignments.

Medium Security

In medium security prisons, most inmates remain in the prison for the whole day. Supervised by correctional officers, they may often be able to leave the prison to work on road squads or state prison farm.


In close security prisons, inmates must remain in the prison 24 hours a day and may not leave the prison for work. Usually, armed correctional officers are accompanied whenever they move from area to another inside the prison.

Major issues in prison

It is easy to think that the rights of a prisoner deserves less respect than us. However, this is not true since every human beings have the same rights and they should never be taken away. Moreover, just because you are a prisoner, does not mean you have actually committed a crime. Shockingly, an estimated 3.2 million people in prison worldwide have not yet had a trial (“Detention and Imprisonment, n.d.). It is necessary to make sure that the basic human rights of prisoners are protected (“Prison Reform and Alternatives to Imprisonment”, n.d.). Here are some problems regarding the imprisonment and detention of prisoners:

  • There are numerous people who have been imprisoned just because of who they are or what they believe. These people are the prisoners of conscience. A person should not be imprisoned just because of its sexual orientation, ethnicity, sex, economic status, religious or political beliefs (“Detention and Imprisonment, n.d.).
  • Torture and other forms of violent treatments are being carried out in various prisons. The infamous Abu Ghraib prison (Higham, & Stephens, 2004): During the war in Iraq, the US army and CIA committed series of human rights against inmates in the prison, which included physical and sexual abuse, torture and murder.

Other mistreatments that violate human rights (“Detention and Imprisonment", n.d.).

  • Arbitrary detention – being detained for no legitimate reason or without legal process
  • Incommunicado – being detained without access to family, lawyers etc.
  • Secret detention – being detained in a secret location.
  • Inadequate prison conditions – such as overcrowding and prolonged solitary confinement.
  • Unfair trials – trials conducted without ensuring minimum legal process.
Shocking Statistics About Detention and Imprisonment (“Detention and Imprisonment, n.d.).

Causes of these problems

These issues reflect bigger social issues such as racism, human rights violation against criminals, economic disparities, religious hatred and many more

Psychological & environmental factors on guards and prisoners: The Stanford Prison Experiment

In 1971, Philip Zimbardo, a psychology professor of Stanford University, carried out an experiment on college students to study the causes of brutality reported among guards in American prisons (McLeod, 2008). He converted a basement of Stanford University into a mock prison and split 23 volunteers into 11 prisoners and 11 guards. The prisoners were placed inside the cells and the guards were instructed to do whatever they thought was necessary to maintain order. The prison simulation was to be kept as real as possible.

This 30 minute documentary film about the Stanford Prison Experiment will be shown to the Emissaries:


Created with images by Falkenpost - "prison cell slammer"

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