The basic principles upon which the U.S. correction system is based are efficiency and fairness, so any compromise of them amounts to misconduct. According to Wolf (1), correctional misconduct is marked by various forms of criminal and moral deviance in the practice of the laws guarding the operations of the prisons. He notes that the issue of correctional misconduct has not started recently. The claims of the involvement of officers in unlawful behaviors have been witnessed ever since the founding of the first civilian police force with the aim of helping to covert crime (Wolf 1). This write-up will look at the myths and the facts surrounding the various forms of misconduct in the US prisons. According to Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice (1), the deviance witnessed in the prisons may take the form of perjury, brutality and improper sexual activity. Other forms of misconducts may include sleeping or using alcohol while on duty. The correction officers are the ones who interact with the inmates on what can be described as a personal level basis. Being responsible for the regulation of the behavior of inmates, they are the primary control agents in the prison. The staff directly supervises the prisoners while also seeking to enforce the rules and regulations.
The Myths and Facts of the Misconduct at the U.S. Prisons
McCampbell and Layman (2) discus a number of the myths and facts of the various forms of misconducts witnessed in the United States. Their first myth is the belief among various prison administrators that their agencies have no allegations of their staff involving themselves in any form of misconduct. According to McCampbell and Layman (2), the fact is that virtually no public or private institution can totally avoid all forms of misconducts. They give an example of sexual misconduct that exists in virtually all kinds of institutions and is worse in U.S. prisons.
The second myth identified by McCampbell and Layman (2) as held by many correction facilities is that raising this issue with the staff and inmates will worsen the situation by creating more problems. They refute this position and argue that the reality is that, the problems facing the prisons will always remain thriving with the avoidance of the issue. They gave an example with a case of sexual misconduct in prisons. They observed that most states’ prison systems have put the necessary measures in place to aggressively address the sexual misconduct of their staff.
According to McCampbell and Layman (2), addressing the sexual misconducts in the U.S. prisons can only be done effectively through the identification and the implementation of the policies that identify the specific prohibited conduct. Such policies must also seek to provide educational programs to the staff. Another measure would be to insist on mandatory reporting. The inmates must be oriented to the zero tolerance policy of the agency to help to ensure the integrity of the various policies applicable within the prisons. They concluded that the existence of the various forms of misconduct can never be addressed sufficiently without it being raised (McCampbell and Layman 2).
Another myth is the belief that by orientating inmates, the prisons will be providing the grounds upon which inmates, who dislike or want favor, would produce allegations against the staff. McCampbell and Layman (2) stated that there may be an increase in allegations during the early duration whenever the prisons embrace mandatory reporting measures for its staff and inmates. They noted that most allegations have not been having the proofs. They propose the inclusion of the way of dealing with such cases as false reports in their policies (McCampbell and Layman 3).
Another myth about the existence of the occurrence of misconduct is that the increasing rate of the cases of misconducts is because of the many new employees that continuously join the department. The argument in this myth is that the majority of these new recruits may not be prepared for the demands of the job (McCampbell and Layman 3). The fact is that while some new recruits have been involved in various acts of misconduct, the majority of the officers involved in these cases are those who have served for many years. They note that the conducts of these old guards are rarely questionable by their peers and supervisors unlike the new recruits who are closely supervised (McCampbell and Layman 2).
Another myth is that it is the inmates who put the staff into compromising situations. McCampbell and Layman (4) argue that, that the problem exists because of the need to control their environment, the majority of the inmates will try to manipulate the officers put in charge of them. It calls for the analysis of the inmates profile to obtain clear information about their backgrounds by the administration and the supervisors. An example would be finding out whether a convict had been involved in sexual abuse before they were brought into prison (McCampbell and Layman 4).
What Illegal Violation of Rules is / or Why the Rules are not Followed
Cornell University Law Institutes (1) notes that the constitution of US does not give the prisoners full rights. It explains that the US prisoners are instead protected by the constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. This is stipulated in the Amendment VIII which gives the prisoners the rights to minimum standard of living.
In addition, Cornell University Law Institutes (1) has noted that the prisoners also have the right to administrative appeals and that of access to the parole process. They are also protected against any form of unequal treatment by the Equal protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The amendment criminalizes any form of racial, sex or creed biasness in the treatment of the prisoners. Likewise, the Model Sentencing and Correction Act provide all confined persons the protected interest in freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, religion, nationality or sex. However the prisoners have limited rights to speech and religion (America Bar Association 83).
The Extent of Violation and Following of the Rules
Amnesty International USA has elaborated a number of ways in which the above laws are either followed or not violated. The fast right whose violation has remained a big issue is the racial and gender based discriminations. The US prisons are witnessing a high level of the existence of the sexual assault and misconduct against women. According to Amnesty International USA, the reason behind the high level of discrimination in the US prisons is the imbalance of power that is enjoyed by the inmates and the guards.
The organization observes that this disparity in power has given rise to the utilization of direct physical force based on the prisoners’ total dependency on officers to obtain any basic needs. The guards also have the ability to withhold the privileges enjoyed by the prisoners. This has led to some women being forced to involve themselves in sexual activities with the staff in return for favors such as extra food or personal hygiene products (Amnesty International USA). In certain circumstances, the male correctional officials watch women undressing while the women are in the toilet or during searches. The worst is the cases in which these officials pay back, with brutality, against the female inmates who complain or report about the sexual assault and harassment they have been exposed to (Amnesty International USA).
Amnesty International USA also notes that many states within America allow the guards to access and even review the files containing the personal history of the inmates. This may reveal the information concerning any record of complaints against the individual officer or other authorities within the prison system. Some guards are even on record of using threats of withdrawal of the inmates’ visitation rights as a means of silencing the prisoners. In certain circumstances the guards have also managed/attempted to extend the prisoners duration of stay in prison. In certain instances the prisoners who complain are also segregated (Palmer 521).
Amnesty International USA has also identified the existence of impunity in the US prisons. It has observed numerous instances in which ineffective formal procedures of legislation and reporting has not been followed. The association has also observed that in some cases, the prison officials found guilty have simply been transferred from one station to the next instead of being relieved of their duty (Amnesty International USA).
Another form of violation is the issue of the Medical negligence in the U.S. prison. Amnesty International USA has also observed that in many cases the prisoners are always denied access to the basic medical resources and treatments. This has been the cases especially against the women whom are never provided with timely medical attention during pregnancy. It also takes the form of failure by the prisons to refer the inmates whose health conditions are worsening. Several women have died from diseases like cancer and anemia that would otherwise have been treated and HIV/AIDs because of lack of the ARV drugs. In some facilities the inmates have little or no access to medical attention (Amnesty International USA).
Another issue of misconduct is the discrimination based on racial orientation. The Amnesty International USA has observed that racial discrimination has led to the growth of incarceration against the minorities, particularly the Africans Americans. The prisoners who are not able to abide to the prison norms like lesbianism are increasingly being tortured and abused.
Are Prison Guards Guilty?
The prison guards are not guilty. Wolf (1) has attributed the involvement of prison staff in the various forms of misconducts to the disparity in the way the correction officers are treated as compared to their police officers counterparts. Apart form the respect they enjoy, the police officers have better pay and access to better technology. Wolf (1) noted that the correction officers, though normally perform similar duties, are neglected and work in what is perceived as a more hostile environment. They also experience disparity on other areas such as requirements and trainings. It has also been extremely difficult to recruit or retain new correctional officers leading to the officers being overworked. All these are forms of stress which are redirected onto the prisoners (Clear 27).
According to the Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice (1), the correction officers function within an organizational structure which is so autocratic in nature. These officers have to follow the established rigid chain of commands which is often more stressful. They feel alienated, powerless, estranged, and helplessness and thus turn the anger on the inmates.
In conclusion, the case of misconduct within the US prisons is an issue that can never be dismissed. Its effects go beyond the borders of U.S. as witnessed with racial discrimination in most prisons across various prisons. For the prisons department to achieve its ultimate goal of effectiveness there is a need for the elimination of such illicit undertakings by putting the necessary policies in place. Such policies must seek to address the specific forms of misconducts in these facilities.