The prison world is predominately male dominated. As the years go by, female incarceration levels have been rapidly increasing. The prisons in early days didn’t have to worry about dealing with two different types of inmates as there were not that many females incarcerated. While male and female inmates do have some similarities, they also have some distinct differences. The way they conduct themselves in prison are different; as are they way they interact with other inmates. Males typically are in prison for more violent crimes than women, making the maximum security prisons mainly male.
Throughout this paper, these differences and a few similarities are discussed. MALE INMATES “We know how hard it is to help prisoners become better men, and many penal authorities have given up too easily on that task. But whatever prisons do, they must not make men needlessly worse. ” ~ John P. Conrad Male inmates have predominately made up the majority of prison populations dating back as far as prisons go. Each year, the number of male inmates gradually grows. Since 1995, the male population in prisons has grown 26%.
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With the ever growing population of males alone, overcrowding in the nation’s prisons is becoming an issue, especially when almost half of the crimes for which males were sent to prison are violent in nature. Violent offenses can include homicide, rape, manslaughter, aggravated assault, robbery, etc. This brings the overcrowded male prisons to a dangerous level. The overcrowding and citizen alarm about violence in the community have tended to force correctional administrators to find ways to release those men considered least dangerous back into the community (Allen et al. 14). Many male offenders were drug and alcohol abusers before they were sentenced. For example, in 1997 almost one third of the men in prison had been drinking at the time of their current offense and more than one third were under the influence of drugs. These issues have contributed negatively on the behavior of inmates both in the community and in the institutions. While in prison, many are offered some kind of institutional work assignment. These types of jobs have an average pay of less than $1 per hour.
It is hard to motivate an incarcerated man to make a serious effort to learn a trade while he is working in a prison for such a low wage when the same man has made up to $500 per day illegally and he knows it can be done again (Allen et al. 315). Gangs within male prisons can be a huge problem. 1 in 5 males in prison have been sexually abused, often by other inmates. Sexual assaults that occur in prisons are often made by heterosexually oriented males to show power and dominance over others. Many male inmates come into the prison with the dominating attitude, but the prison environment can change them.
Some have the feeling that you have to do things that maybe you normally wouldn’t do in order to survive your sentence. FEMALE INMATES “Females tend to commit survival crimes, fed by a drug-dependent life, and escape brutalizing conditions and relationships. ” ~ Barbara Owen Female inmates have always and still are the minority in prisons. However, their population is on a steady and rapidly growing climb. The number of female’s held in America’s jails is up over 130% since 1990. Recently there has been a movement to push for the rights of female prisoners in corrections.
Females still receive differential, sometimes even preferential treatment, partly in deference to traditional female gender roles, except in the area of drug arrests (Allen et al. 284). Officers tend to use different discretion when dealing with female offenders. They see their mother or sister and will treat them differently than they would a male in the same situation. Throughout research, it has been stated numerous times that a large majority of female offenders, 98%, have some sort of lifetime trauma experience.
It is suggested that females generally are not drawn from mainstream America, come from deprived and unstable backgrounds, have been extensively abused over time, and face significant employment, financial, psychological, emotional and social barriers in their efforts to live in and seek reintegration into their local communities (Allen et al. 290-291). As with males, many female offenders are abusers of alcohol and drugs and were under the influence of either at the time of their offense.
According to demographic data from 2002, more than 46% of females were using drugs or alcohol at the time of their offense, and more than 55% admitted to drinking regularly. Many females in prisons find surrogate families while they are being incarcerated. It is a personality trait of many females to band together with others to pull through a rough and emotional time, such as being in prison. Female inmates tend to have problems that males don’t that bond them together stronger. One such bond is the inmates that are pregnant at the time of their incarceration.
Homosexuality is prevalent in female institutions, largely because a high percentage of women have been abused and misused by men for most of their lives, and they already have turned to other females for their emotional needs. 1 in 4 women in prison has been sexually assaulted, most likely by male staff. Sexual Assault in a women’s prison isn’t primarily about dominance as it is in a male prison. MALE VS. FEMALE INMATES While there are many similarities between male and female inmates, there are also many differences. The American prisons have been predominately male and continue to do so.
As of December 2002, there were 1,343,164 men under the jurisdiction of state or federal prison authorities, while there were only 97, 491 women (American Correctional Association). With such a high number of male inmates, many states have multiple prisons for males while many only have one major facility for females. As a result, the female’s prison will house every classification of offenders, while male prisons will only have 1 or 2 classifications present. Bullying in prisons can be an issue. The perceived extent of bullying was fairly high, with women reporting a higher level than men.
Bullying was predominantly physical but women reported a higher frequency of indirect bullying than men. It was found that indirect forms of aggression were more characteristic of females than males. Men were more likely than women to report physical assaults whereas women were more likely than men to report verbal bullying (Ireland and Archer). Married inmates report higher levels of depression and anxiety than non-married inmates, although separate analyses by gender indicate that the adverse relationship between marital status and anxiety is stronger for incarcerated husbands.
Although the rate of incarceration is increasing rapidly for women, they remain in the minority of criminal offenders, and crime is still considered to be more characteristic of males than females. In addition, because women are more likely to be incarcerated for relatively minor offenses, it is possible that female inmates do not perceive themselves as “criminals” to the extent that males do, and may find the attachment of the deviant label more inconsistent with their self-identity. Thus the stigma associated with incarceration may have more adverse consequences for women (Lindquist). When you tell a male inmate to tuck his shirt in, he does it. But when you tell a female inmate to tuck her shirt in, first she asks why, then she tells you about a million other inmates who didn’t have to tuck their shirts in” (Bedard). In facilities that house male and females, supervisors have firsthand experience in dealing with both at the same time and seeing the differences that are there. According to one such supervisor, women have more frequent suicide attempts and use medical and mental health services at more than twice the rate of male inmates.
While females tend to form surrogate families, males may bond as teams, which can lead into gang activity throughout the prison. Many females are very receptive to rehab programs and take the initiative to get involved that will help pave their future, while males are more reluctant in fear of damaging their reputation and upsetting their male ego (Bedard). During a local jail tour, the jail administrator offered his personal experiences when dealing with the gender differences in his jail. Personally he said that he would rather supervise 100 males than 10 females.
In his experience, the women in the jail are more emotional and catty, giving the officers more attitudes. He also noted that the females tend to be more sexually active in the prison. While they don’t condone or allow this activity, it is sometimes unavoidable. The local jail was 13% female in the last month. While there are consistently more males than females, the female incarceration levels have been increasing. LIFE AFTER PRISON Once released from prison, many offenders are put on probation or parole. There were differences while they were in prison, being on the outside is no different. I personally see a night and day difference. I spoke with other agents in the office and typically male agents prefer supervising males and females prefer supervising females. I would supervise all males if I could. A woman with a male agent tends to try to “play” him. Almost every time one of my females violated their rules and were put into custody, they would start crying and try to make me feel sorry for them. It is very, very rare that guys do that for other male agents. Females also challenge me more than males do. Females will question why I put certain restrictions on them and males typically won’t do that.
Males typically do not do that with other male agents. However, males will challenge a female agent’s authority, especially the domestic violence guys who have a hard time taking directions from females. One thing I did notice is that females typically have a less of an ego when it comes to employment. They are more willing to take a job that pays $7/hour than a male is” Kevin Norman – Wisconsin DOC Probation/Parole Agent Typically females are less aggressive, more emotional, and take rules and expectations less personal than males.
They also tend to challenge agents less and have less than a power struggle. While they are different, they also have similarities. Both can be lazy, make just as many excuses for their circumstances, have an equally difficult time finding employment/obtaining resources and making positive choices. Both struggle in the community to move beyond old friends and to find new peer groups. They all seem to entwine themselves in a ‘web’ of offenders (Norman and Nault). Giving current trends, prisons are going to be filling up more and more with females.
While males are also filling prisons at a steady rate, the females’ growth rate is higher. The differences between male and female inmates tend to focus primarily on typical male and female traits. Females tend to be more emotional and form bonds more than the males. Males tend to be more domineering and worried about defending their reputation. Things aren’t going to change when it comes to these. While some offenders will keep their same personality from before their conviction, many will change in regards to their new environment, making them harder and tougher.
For jails and prisons that house both genders, the officers staffed need to be made aware of these differences to better help control any situations that may arise. ? Works Cited Allen, Harry E, et al. Corrections in America: An Introduction. 11th ed. New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007. Print. American Correctional Association: Government and Public Affairs. N. p. , n. d. Web. 17 Apr. 2010. . Bedard, Laura E. “Female Vs. Male Inmates: The Rewards and Challenges of Managing Both. ” Corrections One. N. p. , 16 Sept. 2008. Web. 17 Apr. 2010. . Ireland, Jane, and John Archer. Descriptive Analysis of Bullying in Male and Female Adult Prisoners. ” Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology 6 (1996): 35-47. JSTOR. Web. 17 Apr. 2010. Lindquist, Christine H. “Social Integration and Mental Well-Being among Jail Inmates. ” Sociological Forum 15. 3: 431-455. JSTOR. Web. 17 Apr. 2010. Norman, Kevin, and Stephanie Nault. Personal interview. 5 Apr. 2010. Tittle, Charles R. “Inmate Organization: Sex Differentiation and the Influence of Criminal Subcultures. ” American Sociological Review 34. 4: 492-505. JSTOR. Web. 16 Apr. 2010.