prison subculture | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Corrections

Prison subculture refers to the norms, values, beliefs, and practices that are unique to the social environment and context of a correctional facility, shaping the behavior and attitudes of inmates and staff.

A hierarchical power structure, a code of silence, and the development of alternative systems of authority and control among prisoners often characterize it. The subculture may emerge due to the deprivation of autonomy and freedom and the need for survival and protection in a hostile environment. The socialization process within the prison subculture can result in the adoption of criminal values and behavior, leading to recidivism and difficulty reintegrating into society after release. The study of prison subculture can provide insight into the challenges of correctional rehabilitation and the effectiveness of prison policies in promoting socialization and positive behavior change.

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Last Modified: 03/13/2023


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