The Society Of Captives By Gresham Sykes Essay

The Society Of Captives By Gresham Sykes Essay

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Most prisoners that are in prison now are more than likely to be free one day where some will spend the rest of their living life there. When they enter into the prison system, they lose more than just being able to wear what they want. They even lose more than just their civil liberties. Gresham Sykes was the first to outline these major deprivations that prisoners go through in his book The Society of Captives. His five major pains, which he calls “pains of imprisonment”, were loss of liberty, loss of autonomy, loss of security, deprivation of heterosexual relationships, and deprivation of goods and services. Matthew Robinson adds onto Sykes’ five pains with three more of his own. His additional pains are loss of voting rights, loss of dignity, and stigmatization (Robinson, 2009, p. 283). I will go more in depth of Sykes’ pains of imprisonment in addition to Robinson’s.
Loss of Liberty
Despite popular belief, prison is not a fun place to be. As Robinson (2009) states that:
Many Americans seem to conceive of prisons as comfortable places where offenders watch television free of charge, eat three square meals per day at no cost, enjoy various extracurricular activities as weightlifting and basketball, and get free educations. (p. 283).

Most of these conceptions of prisons are false. In the North Carolina Department of Correction DIvision of Prison they lay out their prisoners day starting at 6am and ending at 11 p.m. They only have one hour of off duty time in the prison yard, one hour of time in a specialized program, and two hours before lights out to either talk, play cards or watch the dorm’s television. All the other time is either spent eating or at work. And now funding for educational, vocational, and treatment program...


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...dvantages plus the additional stigma of a felony conviction.” (Robinson, 2009, p. 293). Now having this label, this makes it hard for them to find a place to live and also a place to work. The labeling theory explains that when the criminal justice system labels someone as a “criminal,” “convict,” or “offender” the label can affect how someone views themselves and can potentially change their self-concept. This theory can be applied with ex-offenders who have been released but are still being labeled like they are a criminal.
Considering all the pains of imprisonment, the likelihood of someone ending up back in prison is high. As a society, we should help to fix these pains so when people are released they can reintegrate and be a working part of our society. As Robinson put it, “we send people to prison as punishment, not for punishment.” (Robinson, 2009, p. 286).

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