Legal Studies 3080


Not only must inmates learn to function within the prison system itself, but they also must learn to function within the "inmate hierarchy" - a spontaneous ranking of prisoners that seems to occur naturally in correctional institutions. Certain inmates, depending in part on the types of crimes they committed, are given more prestige than others by their fellow inmates. Those known to have committed serious offences and who act tough are usually put at the top of the ladder. Sexual offenders and inmates known or believed to be police informers are at risk in the general inmate population and are generally put into protective custody.

Something to Think About

From time to time people express the opinion that taxpayers' money should not be used to provide the special privileges of protective custody to inmates guilty of brutal sexual crimes. Supporters of this position frequently point out that those contemplating such crimes might think twice if they knew they would be thrown into jail with other inmates who would likely try to pay them back for their crimes. What do you think? Should criminals of this sort be protected from the brutal "justice" often handed out by other prisoners? Give reasons for your answer.

Suggested Answer: Experience has shown that putting prisoners of this sort into the general prison population is just like signing their death warrants. Since Canada has rejected the death sentence in its criminal justice system, to suggest a step like this seems contradictory. Some people might respond, of course, that we should simply bring back the death penalty - a suggestion that opens up yet another area of controversy. If this issue interests you, you will get a chance to look into it later when dealing with controversial issues.