Corrections and Prisons, Questionnaire Example
Why is probation the most common form of correctional supervision in the United States? How do conservative and liberal justifications for probation differ?
Statistically, 60% of all US citizens under corrective supervision are on probation â this fact has been predetermined by two factors: a) overcrowding of prisons; b) low costs of probationary correction. Criminals who can be left within the community are left under the supervision of the probation officer. Probation is justified from the conservative (all criminals, even those who have committed a minor misdemeanor, have to be punished by law) and the liberal (treatment and correction should be comprehensive but not as imposing as prison sentence) approaches.
In what ways may a probationary sentence be assigned? When might probation be more appropriate than imprisonment or fines? What other sanctions are used in combination with probated sentences?
Probation is assigned to the individual by the judge at the trial. Probation can be applicable for âprobationableâ crimes such as minor misdemeanors and minor felonies (e.g. burglary, grand theft, robbery), but not in case of rapes or capital crimes. There are some additional sanctions that can be applied to a person on probation â they are called intermediate sanctions. They include fines, home confinement, community service, boot camp, forfeiture of property etc. They are more intrusive and restrictive than common probation, but still they are less costly than keeping an individual in prison.
What are the conditions of probation? What is the difference between standard and special conditions of probation?
There are many conditions that the accused person should follow during the period of probation â he or she is under the constant supervision of the probation officer, deprived of the right to store and carry firearms, tied to living in a definite place (i.e. not leave the jurisdiction). If the offense the individual committed involved human victims, then it is forbidden for the person on probation to meet with them or other potential victims, with criminals who constitute a gang in which the individual used to be etc.
Under what circumstances is probation likely to be revoked? What legal rules govern the revocation of probation? What authorities are usually involved in the revocation process? What role does each play?
The probation can be revoked in case the probation officer finds his or her subordinate violates the conditions of probation. In this case the court or the prosecutor is notified, the court hearing is arranged and the defendant should find a lawyer to defend his or her rights. The decision of the court can be different: either to revoke the probation and to send the individual to prison for the penalty that was initially imposed, to re-assign him or her to probation under the same or under aggravated conditions. Some other authorities involved are the Department of Correction (DOC)
What is a technical violation of probation? What is an absconder?
A technical violation is a minor misdemeanor and is usually not punished legally, i.e. a probation officer does not file a complaint to court. Such activities as changing the residence without notifying the probation officer, failing to report to the officer on a regular basis or to pay a fine, restitution etc. are examples thereof. Absconder is an attempt to leave a definite place and hide from prosecution (legal one), which is a much more serious violation.
Describe the process of probation. What are its basic elements? What sorts of investigations do probation officers regularly perform? How does case management differ from counseling? What kinds of contracts should a probation officer have with her or his clients? What is the purpose of each?
The probation is commonly taking place the following way: people are employed, live in one and the same place to be able to contact their probation officer at the day and time previously arranged; they report to the probation officer about their employment, identity and residence changes, treatment or community services etc. Case management is arranging a set of activities to help the person on probation achieve a set of goals on rehabilitation. Counseling has more psychological inclusion and involves support and guidance of the probated person on the way of rehabilitation. The probated should sign a probation contract with some standard conditions (to obey the state etc.) or with some special ones (pay restitution, fulfill community service etc.) â the purpose of each contract is to make the probated comply with terms of the contract, violation of which will entail arrest or penalties.
What sorts of offenders are most appropriate for probation sentences? What sorts of offenders are controversial candidates for probation? Why? How do probationers differ from typical prison populations?
People who have conducted minor crimes or felonies without human victims are more likely to get the probation sentence, e.g. weapon offenses, drug offenses (possession or trafficking), all kinds of property offenses etc. However, those who have committed violent offenses like sexual assault (rape), murder, robbery or aggravated assault are less likely to get probation â they constitute the social threat. Probationers differ from prisoners in many ways â they are allowed to work, they are more or less free in their lives and they are not incarcerated.
What sort of involvement should a probation officer have in offender counseling? Why? What legal and ethical issues are involved in this aspect of probation?
The probation officer surely has a wide range of powers concerning the probationer, judging the level of rehabilitation, correction and improvement of his or her client. However, the officer does not have the evaluating power and should not act as a judge, guard or therapist. Nor should he or she teach the probationer ethics or morality â the work of the probation officer mainly concerns supervising and facilitating, with elements of investigation.
What qualifications should a probation officer have? How do these credentials relate to his or her routine activities?
Applicants should surely have a Bachelorâs degree in social work, criminal justice or psychology (sometimes a Masterâs degree is required). Usually related experience is required; it can be work in probation, pretrial services, parole etc. It is rare that probation officers are hired for the position at once â they usually have to work as trainees for up to a year to acquire a corresponding certificate and to be hired for a permanent position. Computer skills are also welcome.
What are the goals of probation? How and why do they vary from one jurisdiction to the next? What facts must be thoroughly documented to achieve these goals? What impact has the ânew penologyâ had on these goals?
The main goals of probation are retribution, incapacitation and rehabilitation. They are achieved through financial penalties imposed on the probationers, by compulsory treatment or counseling, as well as supervision by the probation officer who is able to assess the level of changes in the probationer. For this all treatment- or counseling-related, employment and community service information should be properly documented and assessed. The principle of ânew penologyâ dictates shortening the time spent in prison, thus affecting the number of probationers: it increased sufficiently.
What arguments are made for state control of probation services? What arguments support local control of probation services? How does the organization of federal probation differ from that found in most states?
State control appears much more beneficial for the correction system because it will be much easier to operate the human resources on the local or state level. Federal control is too loose in the related field. More than that, the agencies created on the local, state and federal level are multiple, costly, overlapping in their functions and not co-operating, Federal system is distinguished by the federal judge appointing the probation officer. Commonly, the Chief Probation Officer is appointed by a superior court, and he/she appoints regular probation officers.
What is a caseload? What factors should be used to set caseload sizes? How does caseload size affect the likelihood of revocation? Why? What is a specialized caseload? What type of supervision is associated with them?
Caseload is the number of probationers or parolees that a specific probation officer supervises at a definite period of time. It is hard to determine the average caseload size because different clients have different levels of needed supervision, but the US statistics names 175 offenders per officer. Larger caseloads prevent officers from paying adequate attention to probationers, thus increasing the risk of revocation. Specialized caseloads provide specialized control and supervision of high-risk offenders on probation â they are associated with intensive probation.
What are intermediate sanctions? What forces led to their creation? Who runs them?
Intermediate sanctions include additional sentences such as fines, community service, forfeiture of possessions etc. The main force that led to their creation is the detention function â people who cannot be put to prison but who have to realize the gravity of their crime should have more restrictions of freedom. Intermediate sanctions are run by local, state and federal agencies, e.g. in Texas they are the responsibility of 122 Community Supervision and Corrections Departments (CSCDs) and a Criminal Justice Assistance Division. Federal probationers are the responsibility of the Federal Probation Service.
Who is assigned to alternative sanctions programs? How are these assignments made? Why do many people prefer them to more traditional forms of corrections?
Juveniles or minor offenders (constitute minimal risk but yet require close supervision) are usually assigned to alternative sanctions programs. Once the person is assigned to alternative sanctions, he or she has to fill in the application and to pay the application fees. Alternative Sanctions Officers determine the eligibility. These sanctions are more preferable because they allow people to stay in the community, to learn new skills and to be treated and rehabilitated in a peaceful and efficient way.
What is intensive probation/parole supervision? How is it different from traditional methods of community-based control? Does it usually accomplish its goals? Why or why not?
Intensive probation may be combined with home detention and is applied to high-risk offenders who are extremely closely monitored. They are deprived of privacy rights under the 4th Amendment and become eligible for search and seizure, workplace visits, electronic monitoring etc. This method is the most intrusive probation. However, it rarely accomplishes its goals as high-risk offenders as murderers, rapists or gang members should be kept in prison to minimize the threat they constitute.
Why has home confinement become popular in the last 20 years? What are its effects on correctional costs? Why? Is it effective in reducing recidivism why?
Home confinement is popular due to the fact that it provides a quite normal flow of probation, with electronic monitoring, with more chances for employment afterwards. It affects correctional costs considerably â reducing the costs for the government, it increases them for the probationer (sometimes the cost reaches up to $100 per week for monitoring). Those who cannot afford such services have to proceed to other probation types. It is the most effective means of reducing recidivism.
What is a split sentence? What does such a sentence try to accomplish? What forms might it take? What problems do these sentences pose for correctional facilities?
Split (or shock) sentence refers to tying the probation to incarceration. This means that the court reconsiders the sentence, and an individual who has already served a certain portion of the sentence in prison is freed and re-sentenced to a certain period of probation. The sentence has a goal of detention and reducing recidivism â those who have already been to prison will not want to get back to it. There are problems with records since sometimes the probationer is obliged to spend weekends or nights in prison, so control acquires varying and rapidly changing forms.
What are correctional boot camps? Why are they so popular? Why are some more effective than others? What does this suggest about our general approach to corrections?
Boot camps are semi-military institutions to rehabilitate juvenile delinquents with the help of strict military discipline, tough training; it emphasizes shock incarceration. They increase the discipline and teach teens to obey the authorities. However, they were found absolutely non-effective with nearly 100% recidivism rate (some boot camps that have introduced education, counseling and vocational training are more effective). This suggests that more therapy and counseling-based approach is more effective.
What are therapeutic communities? What do they require of their clients? Why? What types of offenders are most likely to go to one? Why do they often fail to meet their goals? What dangers and problems do they pose?
Therapeutic communities are correctional centers applying methods of psychotherapy, group therapy etc. to treat drug abuse and other addictions. They require the participants to stay in TCs for the whole period of treatment without leaving the building â this is done to enhance the individualâs interconnections with other patients to facilitate mutual support and help in overcoming the abuse problem.Â Those with minor offenses but with the history of addiction, mental disorder or lack of social support can get to those institutions. Nonetheless, TCs often fail to meet the goals of clients as they do not involve medical treatment, and psychotherapy may not have the desired effect. The danger is that lack of supervision and detention is applied, so clients can easily escape or violate the rules of the institution.
What are day reporting centers? What are their goals? Why are they so rare in the United States?
Day reporting centers are places where the selected offenders report about their activities and get services of increased intensity. Such centers include treatment, education, vocational training etc. These centers guide high-risk offenders who are not in compliance with the conditions of their probation or parole. However, they are rare in the US because of the high costs that everyday intensive counseling and deep involvement of probationers involves.
What is restitution? How is it handled by correctional authorities? Who benefits from it? Why? How is it different from community service? How is it similar to community service?
Restitution is the form of criminal punishment that presupposes payment of the damage or loss that the criminal caused for the victim. It has to be requested before the sentence and is the responsibility of a county prosecutor, victim service provider or corrections officer. The main person who benefits from restitution is the victim of the offense because he or she gets the money the criminal took, or the financial equivalent of the damage. Community service is also a form of retribution but not in the monetary form â in the form of services.
What are the legal ethical and practical dangers of alternative sanctions? Can they be overcome? If so, how? How are their failures likely to affect the future of corrections? What can correctional agencies do to avoid these problems?
The most widely spread dangers of applying alternative functions are concealed in the right choice of the penalty. Current research has shown that even felony drug offenders can be assigned to alternative sanctions, which is unacceptable. It is hard to overcome the problems in distinguishing the measures of offenceâs gravity, but the imposition of additional evaluation standards can be highly helpful on the way to improvement and lessening the number of improperly freed criminals.
How is parole different from probation? How are the organization and priorities of the agencies affected by this? How are the differences in the population they deal with expressed in their priorities?
Probation is the initial substitution of the prison sentence that can be served by an individual staying in the community and following certain conditions of life and behavior. Parole is the release from prison earlier than the sentence initially suggested with the rest of the term allowed to be served in the community. Parolees are supervised more intensely because of their criminal record, and violation of parole is more likely to cause an arrest. Probation is possible only after parole is over for the person sentenced to imprisonment.
By what methods can inmates legally be released from prison? Why is parole preferred over these other methods?
Work release is that portion of the Community Release Program that allows some inmates to be employed in community institutions, with the obligation to return to prison every day after work. Early releases became possible in 2007 when judges were allowed to base their release decision on the prisonsâ âoperational capacityâ. However, parole is more acceptable as it is grounded on the improvement of the prisoner, on his or her rehabilitation. Early releases are done not because the criminals showed their ability to live in the community, but because there is no place in prison for them. More than that, parole presupposesÂ close supervision, which reduces recidivism.
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What rights are lost as a result of felony conviction? Why? How does this affect releases?
First of all, the person convicted of felony loses his/her right to vote, with the possibility to restore it upon paying all fines and serving the necessary prison sentence or other kind of penalty. A felon is also deprived of the right to self-defense by storing or carrying a firearm of any kind. Other restrictions include serving in the federal jury service, to hold federal office or employment, or to be employed as an officer, director, employee, or controlling shareholder.
What purposes are served by parole? What are the basic goals of parole supervision? How are they accomplished?
Initially, the purpose of parole was to watch the paroleeâs rule observance and to ensure his/her reintegration with the society. More often, parolees are closely monitored, with the application of modern monitoring resources like electronic ones or GPS. However, the goals are not accomplished for all parolees as there no resources to guide all of them. In many cases, supervision is limited to checking in the parole agency.
What factors determine when an inmate will be paroled?Â Who makes the decision to parole?
The prisoner has to be eligible for parole, which is determined by state legislation, e.g. the North Carolina general statute in NC. The applicant has to meet with the parole board where he/she is interviewed. Then he/she has to take a psychological test. There are some factors that influence the decision such as the permanent residence availability, the ability to sustain his or her existence (mainly due to the age of the prisoner), abilities for employment etc. The parole board is the authority that grants parole.
What is salient factor score? An offense severity rating? How are these used to set a parole date? What is a clinical override?
The salient factor score is an actuarial device used by the United States Parole Commission as an aid in assessing a federal prisoner’s likelihood of recidivism after release. Â Offense severity rating is the scale of eight categories into which all crimes fall according to the measure of their severity. Surely, these two indicators affect the decision on granting the parole and the lower the scores are, the more chances for parole the prisoner has. Clinical override is the case of overriding the protocol and still considering the admission proper.
What is a parole board? Who controls it? What are its responsibilities? How are its members selected?
Parole boards are non-departmental public authorities chosen from qualified people who are judges, psychiatrists, or criminologists. They decide on whether to grant a parole to the prisoner by interviewing him or her. The United States Parole Commission governs the parole board. In some states the board is an independent agency while in others it is a body of the department of corrections.
What steps should be followed in paroling a convict? What is the goal of each step? How is each step accomplished?
There are many steps to be made to put parole into action. After the interview with the parole board and the psychological test one has to entrust the task of contacting his/her family about sustainable housing and transportation, generate a though-over argumentation for granting a parole, contact the parole board members, argue the immediate release, track the case through the Release processing until getting the parole certificate takes place. Each step is a part of a legal process proving that the convict is able and willing to get back to the community and providing sustainable conditions to implement that goal.
Why might parole be revoked? What steps must be taken to revoke parole? What rights does the parolee have? How is the final decision made and by whom?
In case the breach of parole conditions is detected, the parolee may be asked to appear before the Board. Once the violation has been proven, the Board can revoke the parole or issue a formal warning to the parolee. In case the parole is revoked, the convicts have the right to file appeals and to contact the Prisonersâ Legal Service for help and advice on the matter. The Parole Authority is responsible for revoking paroles.
What sorts of orientations would you expect to find among parole officers? Which one seems most effective to accomplish the goals of parole supervision?
Parole officers may pursue several directions in the process of providing parole supervision. Some of them are law enforcement, balanced or social casework. Surely, it is impossible to reject the corrective power of the law enforcement direction, but still the balanced combination of law enforcement and social caseworks skills in the orientation of parole officers has proved to have profound corrective effect in reducing recidivism, creating the supportive organizational environment etc.
What issues color the relationship between the parole officer and the parolee? How does each affect this relationship?
First of all, it is necessary to remember that the parole officer has a supervisory, law enforcement power over his/her parolee. However he or she should also work as a social worker to help parolees restore social and family ties. There are however many cases of maltreatment from the side of the parole officer, exceeding his or her authority, thus the necessity to separate the social counseling and law enforcement roles for parole officers has been recognized.
What is the ârate of Imprisonmentâ? How fast is it changing and in what direction? What factors explain these trends?Â How, according to economists, does this threaten the nationâs welfare? What can be done to address this threat?
The rate of imprisonment concerns the statistics of all people incarcerated in the US for a given period of time. Looking at the figures, it is clear that it has been skyrocketing for the past two decades. The main reasons for such tendency are the growing availability of gun and drug possession. However, the violent crime rates are considerably falling â this fact makes one think that other crimes, such as drug-related ones, have acquired the dominant nature.
Why is race such a sensitive issue in discussions of prison populations? Why do some charge that prisons reflect social and economic powers structures more than the nature of crime in a society?
There is much spoken about the socio-demographic reflection of a country in the demographic composition of its prisons. Since the USA is a multicultural country, the prisons also have a direct reflection of the US population. The portion of imprisoned black males is extremely higher than that of imprisoned Hispanic and white males. In 2002, 93.2% of prisoners were male. About 10.4% of all black males in the United States between the ages of 25 and 29 were sentenced and in prison, compared to 2.4% of Hispanic males and 1.3% of white males.
How do the populations of state and federal prisons differ? Why? What kind of offenses are behind the increase in prison population for each type of system?
The number of federal prisons has grown considerably for the period of 50 years. Federal prisons are situated largely in the south-west and west of the US. But federal prisoners constitute only 6% of the overall incarcerated population. Federal prisons keep mostly non-violent convicts. 55% of prisoners serve their sentences for drug offenses. As it can be seen from the statistics, the increases in both types of prisons are governed by increases in drug ârelated crimes and violent crimes.
What special problems are faced by inmates who are sick or injured? How do prisons deal with HIV-positive inmates? Why is tuberculosis among prisoners a growing threat to the nation?
Sick or injured inmates face the problem of insufficient funding of healthcare services in prisons, as they are funded from taxpayersâ money. There has been many offers to transport injured or sick prisoners to nursing homes or hospitals â it is vital to remember that prisoners have a constitutionally secured right to health care. Correctional institutions face an even greater problem with HIV-positive inmates and ones having tuberculosis because after their release inmates communicate with the members of community, spreading the disease (HIV-positive ones are even reported to engage in sexual relationships more often than before being infected).
Why are there so many developmentally disabled and mentally ill people in prisons? What unique problems do they face in the prison environment? What steps should prisons take to meet the needs of these populations? What other segments of the justice process need to pay greater attention to these groups? Why?
At midyear 1998, there were over a quarter of a million mentally ill people incarcerated in prison or jail, and only 60% reported receiving counseling help. What is even more threatening is that the overwhelming majority of mentally ill prisoners were accused for violent crimes. They have a huge number of problems in prisons that exacerbate mental health symptoms and provide awful conditions for therapy. Logically, together with the improvement of conditions for this group of inmates extensive social work should be done to correct the distorted perception of mentally ill people as initially dangerous and to find the appropriate place for them.
What is an âolder inmateâ Why is the number of older inmates growing? What are the needs of this population? Why is the aging of the U.S. prison population seen as a threat to national welfare? What steps are being taken to address the needs of older inmates?
There are several reasons for the growing number of âolder inmatesâ â elderly inmates. First of all, the increasing living standards lead to longer lives. Secondly, the baby boomers are aging, so they may overcrowd prisons. Elderly people need much more care, better nutrition and better living standards, which becomes the burden for taxpayers. Thus, first of all, authorities of all levels have to focus on two directions for action: taking care of necessary additional services and conditions for elderly inmates and reconsidering the terms of custody with possible releases for âolder inmatesâ.
What are the purposes of correctional classification? What methods are used to accomplish these goals? What legal restrictions guide its use? What forces lead to prison officials to devaluate the predictions made by these procedures?
Correctional classification is done according to the likelihood of serious disciplinary infractions and escapes from custody. It is done for the sake of risk assessment, and inmates are sent to corresponding institutions. The classification is made through a series of evaluations, including medical and mental health screenings. It includes static and dynamic assessment. Static factors have certain limitations â they do not characterize inmates in the flow of time and may lead to improper application of rehabilitation and treatment in prison. However, devaluation of these findings can be seen in the adoption of harsher methods of correction, coercive treatment etc.
What types of variables predict the nature of prison life? Which of these can be affected by official policies and procedures? Why?
There are many factors by which one may predict the nature of prison life for him- or herself or in general. Starting with individual variables, one will better endure the prison life in case her he has a good state of health, does not need specific treatment, medications etc. The individual should be sociable enough to establish new connections but not too talkative, since power relations are an intricate net that is established according to specific human qualities and traits of character. Judging the general quality of prison life, one should pay attention to such issues as food provision, medical services, additional facilities such as libraries and sports gyms etc.
What two theories are most often used to explain the unique aspects of convict society? What factors does each stress?
There is the sociological and the economic approach to studying the convict society. From the first point of view, all prisoners constitute a society in which the social roles are distributed, a set of adaptive roles is invented and all members follow the inmate code. According to the principles of economics prison is seen as a community that needs goods and services despite the governmental provision thereof at the sustainable level. This is why relationships within the convict community are formulated on the basis of pursuit of economic welfare and market exchange.
What is a total institution? How does living in one affect a person? Why?
The notion of a total institution concerns the one where all activities of individuals living within it are governed by the instructions and dependent on the will of the superior authority or power. It is also called a voracious institution. Living in the total institution can cause diverse effects on the individual, long-term stress and the sense of being followed and watched, which causes grave psychological effects, and deep re-construction of his or her identity.
Describe the process of prisonization. How can it be minimized? How does it affect the likelihood of returning to a law-abiding and productive life?
PrisonizationÂ is the process of accepting the inmate code by the newcomer â it depends on both the inner characteristics of the person and on the social environment he or she gets into, i.e. the attitude of other inmates.Â This process represents a so-called re-socialization process for an individual contrary to the ability to re-integrate with the society upon release. It can be minimized only in case the percentage of mature inmates is reduced, and the code of convicts cannot be seriously imposed on the prisoners during their interactions with other convicts.
Into what four basic types can prison inmates be categorized? To what kind of sub-culture is each most closely tied? How does each relate to staff? Which type best lives up to the norms of the convict code? Which is most feared by other inmates?
The first type is âdoing timeâ â convicts perceive their sentence as purely temporary, act correctly to get out as fast as possible to continue criminal activities. âGleaningâ are those who want to get the most of their prison sentence. They study and use various rehabilitation programs to succeed in life after release. âJailingâ ones do not appreciate freedom and build their lives inside prisons. âDisorganized criminalsâ are those who do not belong to any direction, possess low intellect and are easily manipulated. Those âdoing timeâ are more feared by criminals; it may also be âJailingâ ones, but only in case they are mature and intelligent enough. âDoing timeâ and âgleaningâ ones treat the staff positively to reduce the period of incarceration. Convicts belonging to groups of âdoing timeâ and âjailingâ comply with the standards of convict code the most.
How are prison gangs organized? In what sorts of activities do they tend to become involved? What factors encourage their growth?
Prison gangs are organized according to the membership principle, supported by the outside criminals. They adopt new members from newcomers driven by the wish to survive in the harsh conditions of prisons. They are engaged in such types of activities as money laundering, tobacco, alcohol and drug trafficking within the borders of the prison. The activities in which gangs are engaged also include prostitution, assaults, kidnappingsÂ and murders.
What kinds of sexual activity are most common among male prison inmates? Describe the two basic types of homosexuality that are found in prison. How does prison homosexuality differ from that found in the free world?
Homosexual offense is the most common type of sexual activities in prisons. There can be two types of homosexuality in prison â the natural homosexuality and the homosexuality rape. The revelations of homosexuality found in the free world concern more psychological and genetic grounds of gender mixing that results in sympathetic emotions to persons of the same gender. However, the prison homosexuality has the pursuit of survival as the main factor; it is forceful and does not happen on a volunteer basis.
What forms of violence are likely to be encountered in a prison? What factors predict the rate and severity of prison violence?
The forms of violence commonly met in prison are assault, rape and insult. The diverse means of corporal violence are widely spread as attributed to âoutsidersâ â those who do not belong to certain groups. The growing rates of violence in the US prisons cause more and more concerns about the level of security provision to prisoners as well as staff competence. The factors that affect the rate and severity of violence are the growth of gangsâ power in prisons, instigation against the staff and outsiders as well as more possibilities to obtain weapons.
Why does the author feel that most inmates will leave prison less able to adapt to a law-abiding life than when they entered it?
Taking into consideration the information stated above, sexual violence along with other kinds of violence, the inmate code with which prisoners have to comply in order to survive, inability to receive parole nowadays etc., one can see how the tension grows inside US prisons. Some aggravating circumstances are the presence of hostile and powerful black community gangs and severe laws of survival that any prison as a total institution dictates.
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