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Inmate Prison Violence in America

This paper will be concerned with the causes and effects of inmate prison violence in America. Violence in prisons is usually dramatized in the form of prison riots, such as the one that broke out at Attica State Prison in New York in September, 1971 (Bell, 1985, p. 19). In that riot, the prisoners took thirty-eight guards and civilian workers hostage for a period of four days. The Attica situation came to a violent and bloody end when state police stormed the prison, and thirty-two prisoners and nine guards and employees were killed (Langone, 1984, p. 65). Another highly publicized prison riot took place in 1983 at Ossining State Prison (formerly known as Sing Sing) in New York. In that uprising, prison inmates held seventeen guards hostage for two days, "freeing them only after inmate demands were read over television" (Langone, 1984, p. 154). It has been noted that the 1983 Ossining incident "was nowhere near as serious as the Attica uprising... but it is another bit of evidence that tempers in prison run high" (Langone, 1984, p. 154).

In addition to riots, however, prison inmates are also subjected to violent conditions which occur on a day-to-day basis. Such day-to-day inmate violence involves prisoners and guards alike, and occurs in women's prison facilities as well as men's facilities. Such "in-house violence" can be found "existing on both the physical and the psychological levels" (Anderson, 1988, p. 430). It has been noted that in both men's and women's prison facilities throughout the United States "fights and rapes and even murders are not uncommon" (Kosof, 1984, p. 25). An example of how both riots and in-house violence are a "normal" part of prison life can be seen at the Eastham Unit of the Texas Department of Corrections, where a violent riot broke out in November, 1981 over a racial issue. When the prisoners went on a rampage, guards in riot gear came in, and following some extremely bloody violence, ma...

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Inmate Prison Violence in America. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 08:20, February 20, 2017, from