Bullying in prison


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  • Jane - You have produced a document that must have been more difficult to write, than read... It was insightful. At the same time my fear grew as I proceeded, that in the prison system, few will give this the attention it deserves. 'Why should we care' many will ask... after all these are criminals who 'deserve' what they get...?!

    We are vested in assisting with the education, awareness and tools to assist reduce bad behaviour... We can only hope with documents such as yours (and others) intolerance will waver.

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  • blessing_11111@yahoo.com

    My name is Blessing
    i am a young lady with a kind and open heart,
    I enjoy my life,but life can't be complete if you don't have a person to share it
    with. blessing_11111@yahoo.com

    Hoping To Hear From You
    Yours Blessing
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Bullying in prison

  1. 1. Bullying in prisons Bullying in When I first came in I gave out tobacco and Rizlas to people who asked me. I found I was short at the end of the week. This last week I refused and my JANE L. IRELAND describes the causes and life has been made hell. I’ve been consequences of bullying behind bars, and how continually harassed for my canteen day and night, usually by the hardcore it can be tackled. people I shared the dormitory with; if not them they have been getting other an anti-bullying strategy in 1993 (Home threatening to set fire to them; people to ask me on their behalf and Office Prison Service, 1993), and the q sexual abuse, such as masturbating when I refuse abuse me verbally and lie requirement that all prisons should have an another prisoner or shaving a prisoner’s about me. When in the dormitory I anti-bullying strategy become mandatory in pubic hair while they were tied to a bed; made the mistake of saying I was gay 1999 (Home Office Prison Service, 1999). q verbal abuse, including encouraging and have been ostracised by the very prisoners to hang themselves; couple who have been sleeping together Why study bullying among q more subtle forms of bullying, such as in bed. I have come off my medication prisoners? gossiping, spreading rumours and to get out of here – not sleeping much, Bullying among prisoners is undoubtedly ostracising. around three hours per night. I just an important issue, and it is a behaviour want to be left alone to serve my time that occurs among all types of prisoners The effects of such behaviours on victims, and leave prison never to return. I – men, women, juvenile, young and adult other prisoners and the prison as a whole cannot relate well to people and need offenders (Ireland, 1999a). Estimates of the can be serious. The Home Office Prison medication; going through hell yet I extent of bullying vary across studies; one Service (1999) notes how prisoners who have tried very hard to fit in and appear of my reviews of the literature (Ireland et are bullied can experience fear and tension, normal. I don’t want to cause trouble al., 1999) reported estimates of self- isolation, depression, injuries, debt, but it’s very difficult not to retaliate reported bullying in the range of 20 to 70 difficulty in settling and making use of verbally and I feel like I’m near to per cent for young offenders, compared facilities, material deprivation and illness. cracking up. with a range of 0 to 62 per cent for adult Some victims may request to be segregated (Adult female prisoner: Ireland, in press) offenders. The range for self-reported from other prisoners for their own victims of bullying was 30–75 per cent for protection, they may abscond or escape, ULLYING behaviour among young offenders compared with a range of and in some instances self-injure or B prisoners has only recently been the subject of systematic academic research. The first study on prison bullying 8–57 per cent for adult offenders. As these figures demonstrate, it is difficult to generate definitive estimates of bullying: commit suicide. The consequences of being caught bullying others can also be severe. The was carried out in 1986 by McGurk and different methods and different definitions official response can include a withdrawal McDougall but remained unpublished until are employed by different researchers of privileges from the bully, segregation 1991. No further studies were conducted (Ireland, in press). from their peers and, in cases of serious until 1992 (e.g. Beck, 1992). Since then The types of bullying that prisoners are bullying, extra days added to their sentence there have been 36 studies that I am aware subjected to can be severe. Examples taken and transfer to another establishment. In of addressing bullying among prisoners from McGurk & McDougall (1986), Swift addition, if bullies remain unchallenged (e.g. Power et al., 1997) and 13 discussions (1995), and Ireland and Archer (1996) about their behaviour and learn that of studies, reviews of the research field or include: exploitation is an appropriate and valuable descriptions of anti-bullying strategies (e.g. q physical abuse, such as throwing a strategy to employ, it cannot be expected Ireland, 2000). However, the majority of blanket over a prisoner’s head and that they will learn to live law-abiding lives papers have either been presented in ‘in- kicking them, or placing a mop on a on release (Levenson, 2000). house’ professional journals or represent prisoner’s head and setting fire to it; Bullying also impacts on the prison as surveys designed for use solely within q practical jokes, such as placing a cup a whole. If it is allowed to flourish it can prisons; only 16 have been published in of water on the pillow of a sleeping cause disruption, create no-go areas in the academic peer-reviewed journals, the first prisoner and then throwing a boot at prison and allow a criminal subculture to appearing in 1996 (Connell & Farrington, them so that they awake, startled, thus gain power and subvert prison rules (Home 1996; Ireland & Archer, 1996). Reflecting spilling the water on their pillow; Office Prison Service, 1993). It can the recent academic interest in prison q intimidation or threats, such as pouring undermine the safety of the prison and the bullying, HM Prison Service published petrol over a prisoner’s feet and authority of staff, raising the question of130 The Psychologist Vol 15 No 3 March 2002
  2. 2. Bullying in prisons prisons who is in control of the prison – bullies or aspects of the physical and social density (which accentuates competition) prison officers? It can also increase tension environment, all inextricably linked, that is associated with reduced prosocial between staff, add to workloads, become encourage bullying. These include limited behaviour (Farrington, 1982). Because of a drain on resources (Home Office Prison access to material goods, the existence of the sheer number of prisoners housed in Service, 1999), and reduce the likelihood capitalist economic structures, high a single establishment the level of that prison staff will be able to work with population density, the organisational supervision is limited – it would be prisoners to address their offending structure of prisons, existence of inmate unrealistic to expect staff to monitor the behaviour and prepare them for release subcultures, attitudes of the peer group and behaviour of each and every prisoner 24 (Levenson, 2000). the importance of dominance hierarchies hours a day. Since bullying is an antisocial So we know that bullying occurs in (Ireland, in press). act that will occur away from the attention prisons and we know that the consequences Material goods, particularly tobacco of staff, it can be expected to flourish in of such behaviour can be serious for those and phonecards, become a valuable form such circumstances. involved and the prison regime as a whole. of currency in a prison (Beck, 1995), and The organisational structure of a prison But before describing how to deal with the limits placed on them by prison can also promote bullying. Prisons are bullying it is important to understand why authorities increases competition between essentially authoritarian environments that it occurs in prisons, and how this may prisoners to acquire them. Some prisoners enforce the importance of discipline and influence the effectiveness of anti-bullying will resort to bullying to obtain goods are based on clear and legitimate strategies. either for themselves or to sell on the hierarchical structures (from governor prisoner ‘black market’ for an extortionate through to officer). Such elements have Why does bullying occur in price. Material deprivation is seen as one been described as important risk factors a prison? of the ‘pains of imprisonment’, and the for bullying, not only in prisons (Ireland, Bullying is very much an interaction greater the material deprivation the more 2000) but also in schools (Askew, 1989) between the individual and the profitable exploitation becomes for the and the workplace (Leymann, 1990). characteristics of the prison environment. aggressive prisoner (Feld, 1981). The fact The existence of an inmate subculture Indeed, as stated by Beck (1995), ‘the that prisoners are provided with limited is also important in explaining bullying. demanding aspects of the prison material resources also promotes a Subcultures represent informal social environment allied with the past behaviour ‘capitalist economic structure’, something systems that include an ‘inmate code’ that of their prisoners provide a combination that increases predatory behaviour all prisoners are expected to adhere to. This where frequent bullying should be (MacDonald, 1988). ‘code’ includes not informing on other expected’ (p.55). To take environmental Prisons also house a large number of prisoners, not fraternising with staff, a need characteristics first, there are a number of individuals together, and high population to be tough and to resist exploitation, and a need to maintain one’s position in the prison ‘pecking order’. Violations of the inmate code are often controlled via bullying. For example, informing on another prisoner, particularly to staff, is seen as a valid justification for bullying (e.g. Ireland & Archer, 1996), and prisoners will often fail to report that they are being bullied for fear of violating this code and being subjected to further bullying.DUNCAN PHILLIPS (REPORTDIGITAL.CO.UK) Prisoner attitudes also play a vital role in the continuation of bullying. If bullying were not supported to some extent by the peer group, it would be unlikely to take place. There is evidence that bullying is a valued behaviour in a prison where bullies are often given a certain degree of status by both prisoners and staff (Connell & Farrington, 1996), whereas stigmas are reserved for the victims of bullying. Bullying occurs among all types of prisoners – men, women, juvenile, young and adult offenders Indeed, victims are often viewed as weak 131 March 2002 The Psychologist Vol 15 No 3
  3. 3. Bullying in prisons and referred to using derogatory terms such as ‘whingers’, ‘fraggles’ and ‘muppets’ (Beck, 1992). This can also be related to the dominance hierarchies that exist among prisoners, sometimes referred to as a ‘prisoner caste system’ or ‘pecking order’. Bullies, through the status and approval that they receive from their peers, will appear at the top of these hierarchies, whereas victims are stigmatised and appear at the bottom. Such hierarchies are an important element of the prisoner subculture, where paramount importance is attached to being able to dominate others if acceptance and status are to be gained (Connell & Farrington, 1996). Bullying SHOUT (REPORTDIGITAL.CO.UK) others becomes one way in which prisoners can achieve this. However, the environmental characteristics of prisons are not on their own a sufficient explanation of why bullying occurs. Although they may provide conditions that both promote and reinforce bullying, the individual characteristics of prisoners are perhaps research suggesting that bullies hold more five main elements that were felt to be a determining factor. To a certain extent positive beliefs about the use of aggression important if such strategies were to be prisoners must be predisposed to be (e.g. believing that other prisoners would successful: aggressive towards others if bullying is respect you if you were aggressive: Ireland q Measuring the problem by encouraging to take place. This has been supported by & Archer, in press), have more negative prisons to gather information about how attitudes towards victims (Ireland, 1999b), extensive bullying is, who the bullies and are more likely to respond aggressively and victims are, and where bullying The British Psychological Society to conflict situations involving bullying happens. Prisons were also encouraged (Ireland, in press). In addition, prisoners to attend to any indirect indications of 2002 Annual must also be capable of bullying others in bullying such as an increase in prisoner terms of possessing the social, physical or assaults and requests for transfer. Conference verbal skills necessary to bully q Changing the climate by adopting successfully, and they must also possess a ‘whole prison approach’ to bullying 13–16 March, Hilton, an ability either to create or recognise an that fully involved staff, prisoners and Blackpool opportunity to bully others (Ireland, in visitors to the prison. It also highlighted press). the importance of continually Society Information reinforcing the strategy to prisoners as What can be done? soon as they arrived in the Services Stand In view of the importance played by both establishment. Advice on a variety of issues environmental and individual factors in q Improving supervision and detection explaining bullying, dealing with it through identifying where in the prison including: effectively is not an easy task. Many of bullying is most likely to happen, and x Changing your grade of membership the factors described are largely outside employing strategies to reduce the x Registering as a Chartered Psychologist the control of prison authorities, such as opportunities that prisoners have to x Statutory registration population density, the existence of bully (e.g. by increasing the number of x Overseas psychologists and the UK job prisoner subcultures that reinforce bullying staff supervising high-risk areas). Other market and the predisposition of some prisoners suggestions included changing aspects x Discipline, Code of Conduct and ethics towards displaying aggression. Thus of the physical environment (e.g. anti-bullying strategies should aim more creating smaller living units), using Also: towards alleviating the problem as CCTV cameras in vulnerable areas x Binders for The Psychologist at bargain opposed to eradicating it, and should focus and improving detection using prison prices more on identifying and recognising intelligence systems (e.g. collating x Careers information when bullying occurs with a view to information about incidents, identifying dealing appropriately with the behaviour trends). x Other Society publications of the bully and providing support to the q Supporting the victim in a number of Society staff and officers will be available for victim. ways, including providing all prisoners informal discussion The first anti-bullying strategy launched with a named officer with whom they in 1993 by HM Prison Service outlined have increased contact with, and132 The Psychologist Vol 15 No 3 March 2002
  4. 4. Bullying in prisons mentioned previously, is now mandatory bullying strategies, however, has not yet (Home Office Prison Service, 1999). been empirically assessed, and this is one Although similar in many ways to the 1993 area that future research should focus on. strategy, the 1999 strategy was a marked For example, an effective strategy is one improvement in terms of providing a more that helps to identify when, where and how detailed account of the specific bullying takes place – it is one that ensures interventions that prisons could employ, all incidents of bullying are investigated describing examples of ‘good practice’ and consistently and the findings documented outlining a clearer rationale behind the and used to inform preventive strategies. interventions suggested. It also recognised Effective strategies are also those that that a number of further issues were ensure that all prisoners and staff are aware important to the review or introduction of of the anti-bullying strategy and have anti-bullying strategies. These included: a good understanding of how it operates. q not focusing on the characteristics of bullies that may help identify them, The future concentrating instead on the specific I expect that anti-bullying strategies and types of bullying that were taking place; the impact that they have will improve over q making the strategy meaningful to the time as knowledge about bullying among local environment, notably recognising prisoners’ increases, and assessments of that different groups of prisoners will their effectiveness are conducted and bully differently; published. q recognising that bullying can be both Moving away from viewing bullying ‘open’ and ‘hidden’; as an ‘individual phenomenon’ to viewing q recognising a need to avoid stereotyping it instead as an interaction between employing strategies that may prevent bullies and victims; and individuals and the environment in which the victim being bullied in the future q recognising that prisoners can be both they find themselves is a good start in (such as marking their property and bullies and victims. developing effective strategies. Researchers providing them with assertiveness should also be encouraged to concentrate programmes designed to help them The improvement evident in the revised less on the nature and extent of bullying, cope with future bullying). strategy was probably due to a marked since we are already able to draw someq Challenging the bully by removing increase in prison-based research conclusions about this, and more on the them from the wing or unit to another conducted between 1993 and 1999 that motivations behind bullying, the location and offering them ‘treatment’ would have proved helpful in providing characteristics of those involved, and the for their behaviour in the form of a literature base. For the 1993 strategy the long-term impact of bullying on victims. groupwork programmes. This element prison service would have been forced to also recognised the need to identify the rely primarily on school-based research, s Dr Jane L. Ireland is with motivation behind the bully’s behaviour which, although providing the impetus and Psychological Services, Ashworth Hospital, before it can be effectively tackled. ideas for the prison-based research, is of and the Department of Psychology, limited value when applied to a prison University of Central Lancashire, Preston.This strategy was updated in 1999 and, as environment. The effectiveness of anti- E-mail: irelan-j@ashworth.nwest.nhs.uk. References Askew, S. (1989).Aggressive behaviour in Feld, B.C. (1981). A comparative analysis of Criminological Psychology, 4, 51–66. January, 56, 4–9. boys:To what extent is it organisational structure and inmate Ireland, J.L. (2000).‘Bullying’ among Levenson, J. (2000). Beating the bullies? The institutionalised? In D.P. Tattum & D.A. subcultures in institutions for juvenile prisoners:A review of research. prison service’s anti-bullying strategy: Lane (Eds.) Bullying in Schools. Stoke on offenders. Journal of Crime and Aggression and Violent Behavior: A Review Monitoring prison regimes. London: Trent:Trentham Books. Delinquency, 27, 336–363. Journal, 5, 201–215. Prison Reform Trust. Beck, G. (1992). Bullying amongst incarcerated Home Office Prison Service (1993). Bullying Ireland, J.L. (2001).The relationship between MacDonald, K.B. (1988). Social and young offenders. Unpublished MSc in prison: A strategy to beat it. London: social problem-solving and bullying personality development: An evolutionary thesis. Birkbeck University, London. HMSO. among male and female adult synthesis. New York: Plenum Press. Beck, G. (1995). Bullying among young Home Office Prison Service (1999). Anti- prisoners. Aggressive Behaviour, 27, McGurk, B.J. & McDougall, C. (1991) The offenders in custody. Issues in bullying strategy. Prison Service Order 297–312. prevention of bullying among Criminological and Legal Psychology, 22, 1702. Ireland, J.L. & Archer, J. (1996). Descriptive incarcerated delinquents. Inside 54–70. Ireland, J.L. (in press). Bullying among analysis of bullying in male and female Psychology, 1, 18–23. Connell,A. & Farrington, D. (1996). Bullying prisoners: Research to date and adult prisoners. Journal of Community Power, K.G., Dyson, G.P. & Wozniak, E. amongst incarcerated young offenders: suggestions for intervention. Bruner- and Applied Social Psychology, 6, 35–47. (1997). Bullying among Scottish young Developing an interview schedule and Routledge: London. Ireland, J.L. & Archer, J. (in press). The offenders: Prisoners’ self-reported some preliminary results. Journal of Ireland, J.L. (1999a). Bullying amongst perceived consequences of responding attitudes and behaviour. Journal of Adolescence, 19, 75–93. prisoners: A study of adults and young to bullying with aggression:A study of Community and Applied Social Psychology, Farrington, D. (1982). Naturalistic offenders. Aggressive Behavior, 25, male and female adult prisoners. 7, 209–218. experiments on helping behaviour. In 162–178. Aggressive Behaviour. Swift, J. (1995). Results of an investigation into A.M. Colman (Ed.) Cooperation and Ireland, J.L. (1999b). Provictim attitudes and Ireland, J.L., Jarvis, S., Beck, G.B. & Osiowy, S bullying at HMYOI Deerbolt. Unpublished competition in humans and animals. empathy in relation to bullying (1999). Bullying in prison:A review of Report, Psychology Unit, HMP Wokingham:Van Nostrand Reinhold. behaviour among prisoners. Legal and recent research. Forensic Update, Frankland. 133March 2002 The Psychologist Vol 15 No 3