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The Correctional Subculture

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      Subculture refers to “beliefs, values, behavior, and material objects shared by a particular group of people within a larger society” (Keena, 2007). Sociologists believe that correctional staffs are captives and are considered part of an “orphan group” together with the inmates (O’Connor, 2006). Both groups do not become pressure groups as they are insignificant and transient in the society.

      There appears to be a structure conflict between the correctional officers and the inmates (Keena, 2007). Some perceive and believe that the inmates are their enemies. When correctional officer wears his uniform, he usually feels the authority of the uniform and this leads into abuses. Moreover, rules against fraternization are observed strictly and which explains the reason why correctional officers are indifferent in their inmates causes (O’Connor, 2006).

      In addition, there is a subculture where the “use of force is acceptable/necessary; there is disrespect for the supervisors and the occasional use of deceit to cover up the wrongdoing” (Muraskin, n.d.). Most often, bribes are taken by correction officers as pay offs for advantages and benefits in favor of the inmates (O’Connor, 2006).

      In violation of traditional rules, some correctional officers find themselves friends to inmates. Consequently, they are forced to render ‘favors’ to them lest they will be considered ‘dishonorable’ (O’Connor, 2006). Another cause of an unethical behavior is the effect of performance reviews for correctional officers. The success and high rating of performance review is dependent on how much a correctional officer can control the inmates. With this in mind, inmates may make a ‘show’ that they are observing good behavior so that the correctional officer can be to a certain extent indebted to them. The correctional officer would look the other way and let minor infractions pass without officially addressing them (O’Connor, 2006).

      Finally, a subculture of laziness and indifference on the part of the correctional officer would possibly lead into an inmate who would slowly encroach on the official tasks of the correctional officer. This inmate can propel himself to a level of a ‘trusted’ person above the rest of the inmates but this may only be a ploy to hide illegal activities inside the prison or correctional institution. These activites range from loan sharks to illegal gambling.


Keena, L. Chapter 9 the staff world: managing the prison population. Southeast Missouri State University, Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology web site. Retrieved on March 30, 2008, from


Muraskin, R. Corrections/ punishment: ethical behavior of correctional officers. Law Enforcement Executive Forum web site. Retrieved on March 31, 2008, from http://www.leeforum.com/articledetail.php?recordID=78 

O’Connor, T. Advanced topics in correctional ethics. Austin Peay State University web site. Retrieved on March 31, 2008, from http://www.apsu.edu/oconnort/3300/3300lect06a.htm 

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