General descriptions of prison culture acknowledge that within prisons the potential for violence Is ever present, but rarely do they explore the consequences of fights and assaults for the prison as a community. They say little about the extent and threat of victimization and the structure of social relations among prisoners.

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More recently Sparks, Bottoms, Hay. (1996) defined social order partly In terms of the absence of violence. Their book Prisons and the Problem of Social Order focused on the perennial problem of securing and maintaining order in prisons, rather than the pecial problem of the occasional complete or near-complete breakdown of order. They view violence as an Interruption of social order.

In a later essay Bottoms (1999) made clear that among prisoners, violence might become routine, part of everyday expectations that participants have for one another. Bottom described prison societies in the follow terms: The evidence that we have about prisoners’ own world suggests both that It Is a special kind of social context unusually weighted toward coercive power and that it nevertheless frequently contains elements of predictability and order (ibid:275).

Sim (1994:104) believes that prison violence is a normal part of prison life: Violence and domination in prison can therefore be understood not as a pathological manifestation of abnormal otherness but as part of the normal routine which is sustained and legitimated by the wider culture of masculinity: that culture condemns some acts of male violence but condones others. Routine, prison violence In England and Wales rarely results In life threatening injuries. In 2000, for example there were three homicides in an average population of 65,000. Hans Toch (1997) has argued that most of the time, violence in prison is undane.

However the day-to-day victimization which characterizes institutional life does have a profound Impact on the lives of most prisoners. Endemic violence Is feared by most Inmates. Defining Violence As a concept, violence Is difficult to define. It evades easy description and fixed definition. For our purposes we will adopt Edgar et al. ((2003:25) definition of a violent act as one that is “intentional; harmful; personal; meaningful;and seen as part of the process”. I ne Nature 0T Vlctlmlzatlon Verbal Abuse Cell Theft Exclusion Robbery Threats Assault Sexual Assault Trading Bullying Intimidation Exploitation

Page 2 Criminology Essay

Types of Victimizers Predators Traders or Barons Fighters Avengers Catalysts: Behaviour that Fuel Conflict Accusations Challenges Insults Undermining behaviour Personal invasions Purpose of ViolencePunishment Retaliation Demonstrate toughness Self defence Defend Honour Settle differences Social Context for Violence Peer pressure Racial an ethnic tensions Sexual tensions The Exercise of Power Will power (nerve or bottle) Polltlcal power (networK/Jall wlsaom) Economic power (trader) Official power (prison Job, earned privileges) It is clear that violence and victimization are commonplace in prison and that ssaults and fights are tightly woven into the fabric of prison life. Prison Violence occurs against a backdrop of a social context in which the risk if exploitation by others is endemic.

The rates of verbal abuse, threats and assault are high, while prisoners must also guard against the risks of cell theft, exclusion and robbery. Prisoners perceive their environment rightly, as a place of danger. Conflicts underlie interpersonal violence. They arise between prisoners over material interests such as phone cards, tobacco or drugs, and over values, including honour, oyalty and fairness. When prisoners respond to conflicts, their tactics of blaming, threatening, hostile gestures and challenges reduce the option for peaceful resolution. Problem situations between prisoners are also profoundly influenced by their concern about domination. Power contest are common. In these conflicts each side is determined to win, negotiation is seen as a weakness that the foe can exploit.

Violence and the fear of violence can have a major impact on the quality of life in prisons. Everyone in prison has the right to feel safe and to be able to visit, live and ork, free from fear of violence, threatening behaviour, intimidation or bullying. Prisons also have a legal responsibility to keep prisoners and staff safe and everyone in prison has a responsibility and role to play in helping to reduce violence. The Prison Service Violence Reduction Strategy requires all establishments to undertake a regular analysis of their problem areas, consider solutions and make plans to improve personal safety and reduce violence. The strategy defines violence “Any incident in which a person is, abused, threatened, or assaulted.

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