DB Replies WK4

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One thing I found super interesting in this week’s reading was the similarities in the social structures of male and female prisons. With both, there is a hierarchy of positions. Traditionally, crime and time are what get an inmate a specific level of status. These structures play a huge role in the challenges that inmates face because it can influence them to do things in order to achieve a specific status. Our book elaborates on this idea as it says, “Inmate societies, like other societies, have a hierarchy of positions. Inmates assume or are forced into special social roles, and some inmates – by virtue of the roles they assume – have more status or power than others” (Schmalleger & Smykla, 2021, p.286). When it comes to the social structures of male prisons, there are a wide number of roles. Some of the most common include the real man, the mean dude, and the bully. The “real man” is someone who does not want to cause any trouble or disorder. They are simply in there to do their time and get out, which I think is the most ideal role to play. The next role is known as the “mean dude.” This is a person who quickly relies on their physical strength to exert their power. They control those around them through force. Next is the “bully.” While the bully can sometimes result to physical force, they rely on intimidating others in public to scare them into compliance. Personally, I do not think that correctional institutions are doing an adequate job responding to these challenges. However, inmate hierarchy and the overall social structure of a prison is not something correctional institutions can directly control. R. V. Gundur stated in his article that, “…though certain characteristics of social control within prison seemed to evolve over time and not necessarily in the same way in each context” (Gunder, 2018). In short, the social structure that is built amongst the prisoners is not something the institution can effectively manage. 

One of the main issues faced in correctional facilities today is the mistreatment of women and juveniles. While there are many different solutions, one of the most common is specific training for corrections officers. When it comes to dealing with women inmates, I believe more of an effort needs to be made to make sure they are receiving the proper treatment. The book mentions a training program that “… addresses unique aspects of managing female inmates and provides correctional staff training in the behaviors, actions, needs, and backgrounds presented by female offenders” (Schmalleger & Smykla, 2021, p.299). Everyone, no matter if they are a juvenile, women, or man, should be treated with care and respect. Hebrews touches on this area a bit as it says, “Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3). This verse does not mention male inmates, female prisoners, or juveniles. It talks about prisoners as a whole, which is why I believe it is crucial to treat everyone fairly and to give them the treatment they deserve.


Within male prisons, there is a hierarchy of positions. What this looks like in a male prison system is that there are roles that inmates will either take on or be forced into, in which there are people who have power and people who are subordinate. There are different ways that people have identified and categorized prisoners and Schmalleger developed a typology of inmate roles in male prisons based on “actual social roles found among inmates in prison.” ( ) The 13 inmate roles are: (1) The real man, (2) the mean dude, (3) the bully, (4) the agitator, (5) the hedonist, (6) the opportunist, (7) the retreatist, (8) the legalist, (9) the radical, (10) the colonist, (11) the religious inmate, (12) the punk, and (13) the gang-banger. In male prison, it looks more like a power structure.

Female prisons are quite different than male prisons. Not only in physical structure but social structure as well. Schmalleger and Smkyla (2021) explain that there are differences in how the buildings look such as the neatness and location of female prisons compared to more rough-edged male prisons. They also explain that in the social structure of women’s prisons, they develop a “substitute universe” and “preserve an identity.” They mention that relationships are encouraged and that roles assumed are based on personality, personal dependence, etc.

These structures influence the challenges that female inmates specifically face while being institutionalized because unlike in female prisons, there are a lot of facilities and opportunities that are available to male inmates. Schmalleger and Smkyla (2021) state that “treatment, education, recreation, and other programs in women’s prisons have often been criticized as inferior to those in men’s prisons”(Schmalleger & Smkyla, 2021). The lack of programs and the overcrowding have posed several issues for female inmates such as a better chance at rehabilitation. I believe that there is more that correctional institutions can do in responding to these challenges that both female and male inmates are facing in prison. Hebrews 13:3 says “continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (English Standard Version Bible, 2001, Heb. 13:3)This teaches and encourages us to want better treatment for prisoners especially if they are rehabilitation programs. Female inmates who are getting the short end of the stick when it comes to treatment, education, opportunities, etc. will have a harder time understanding how to be better. It is important that we pay attention to that.

To respond to the special needs of inmates, correctional institutions have to first learn and adopt the proper procedures to identify inmates with special needs and react according. The Handbook on Prisoners with special needs states that “public health policies and strategies must include the needs of prisoners and adequate funding must be provided to prison health services to meet the needs of prisoners with mental (and physical) health care requirements.” (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, 2009) This is extremely critical for juveniles because the process of recognizing special needs earlier on and then addressing it will allow psychologists and correctional agencies to better find solutions to help. It is extremely important to accommodate these needs so that inmates can get the help that they need.

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