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Prisons as Gladiator Schools

NCJ Number
Gazette Volume: 57 Issue: 11 & 12 Dated: (1995) Pages: 21-26
P W Kelly
Date Published
6 pages
During 5 years working as an investigator and analyst in the Canadian prison system, the author has attempted to examine the validity of the concept that the prison experience teaches inmates violent tactics.
After interviewing inmates and researching defensive tactics, the author believes that law enforcement and correctional officials should care about what inmates learn in prison. They should be aware of the possibility of negative learning and should act to prevent violent and other unacceptable behavior in the prison setting. Statistics indicate that prisons disproportionately contain young people who are at risk of being negatively socialized. Prison training and education may promote negative socialization and violent behavior through courses devoted to physical education and strength training, aerobics, and martial arts. Other courses offered to inmates that may encourage negative learning and violent behavior include police sciences, psychology, political science, art, fashion, and electronics. Such courses may reinforce antisocial attitudes, encourage involvement in prison gangs and other hate groups, or provide inmates with tools such as those used in art classes that can be used to commit violent acts. 5 references