Q: I am a documentary filmmaker, and it looks like my next project will revolve
around US prisons. I still trying to define my focus but at this point I'm
leaning toward devoting a lot of attention to prisoner rape (btw, anyone
interested in this topic should really check out Stephen Donaldson's STOP
PRISON RAPE web page). A couple of concerns however are whether or not men
would be willing to watch a film about male rape, and whether I will be
able to tell a story that will be compelling to viewers as well as
beneficial to the people whose stories I tell.
Here are some of my questions:
Does the crime that got one into jail in the first place impact the
liklihood an inmate would be vicitmized by other inmates?
Are white collar criminals at so called "country club" facilities at risk?
If there are men who are left alone who aren't gargantuan in size/weight--
what is it about them that protects them?
Are there any prisons that actually do have a good track record of
One area that is of particular concern is that of men doing life for
protecting themselves from other inmates in jail? Is this a problem that's
been blown out of proportion, or is it really very common?
What determines educational opportunites available to inmates-- in other
words is it possible anywhere to use the time to get a college degree-- an
advanced degree-- and actually have a job waiting for you when you get out.
Why do prisons do psychologic and intelligence testing of inmates upon
Are non--gang members more at risk than gang members.
Do inmates who really do try to better themselves catch a lot of flack from
Is there a certain age at which people pretty much stop bothering you?
Is anyone aware of any inmate(s) who has/have really made life better for
How about guards? Anyone know any remarkable guards.
And finally, are there any bright spots in the US criminal justice system.
A:It most certainly can. There is a hierachy even among inmates relative to the crimes they have committed, or imply they have commited. For example, if someone has "a body" he is most likely less messed with than a "tree jumper." Relative to your question re: white collar crimes and "country club" prisons. Victimization comes in many forms. The most primitive aspects are the ones most often discussed (rape, protection rackets, racial gang activities re: protection). In "country club" settings it is somewhat different. First of all, the so-called "country clubs" are usually Fed. facilities, like camps. The inmates in these camps are, for the most part, fairly well educated criminals. They will scam or con you, but violence is left for the primitive inmates who usually don't get to go to camps and who, if in a camp are reduced to "goofers" for the con and scam artists. Many do not last in a camp setting and are transfered to a "more secure" facility. Theft is also common in the "country clubs." But by far the most annoying problem is the constant "snitching", among inmates. In a tough prison setting these snitches would be dealt with in a severe fashion by other inmates, but in a camp, where no one wants to get a "shot" (disciplinary action) which could affect their "out-date" many inmates will "snitch out" other inmates without much pressure from the administration. As a whole, the "country club" settings are however, if you do have to do any time, the best place where to do it and are many times part of the plea negotiations prior to sentencing. Recent changes in the laws on the states and federal level have drastically reduced funding for advanced education of inmates. Therefore, it is becoming more and more the norm that the only formal education available to inmates will be the GED and whatever facility sponsored in-house vocational training. I have many times expressed my utter contempt with the whole B.S. involving the GED. In the eyes of many DOCS the GED is seen as a fix it all. When someone looks for a job hardly anyone asks anymore for proof that you have a high school diploma. The job is either so menial that no one will even check your educational credentials, or if the job requires a specific skill, like a mechanic, your work experience means more than a high school diploma. Educational credentials are usually subject to verification if you are applying for a position requiring an advanced degree. When applying for a job and proudly displaying one's GED all you are saying to the interviewer is: "I had a problem in the past". So, getting the GED for the sake of getting some more education is fine, but to tell inmates that it will help them get a job is real nonsense. I have hired countless drivers, warehousemen, forklift operators, stock clerks, traffic clerks, dispatchers, outbound/docs. clerks and not once did I care if the applicant had a GED or not. The wages ranged from $5./hr. for unskilled labor to $12.50/hr. for skilled labor. If an applicant volunteers the info that he has a GED, either on the appl. or during the interview, I usually found out that he had "some problem" in the past. Would the applicant have written on the appl. that he graduated highschool in Pimpleborrow, (Whatever State) I would have said to myself and him "fine", now let's see your drivers lic.(if applicable) or show me if you can operate a forklift. That skill decided if I hired him or not.
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