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Home > corrections 101 > Day 3: Juveniles in the Corrections Community

Day 3: Juveniles in the Corrections Community

June 30th, 2009

One of the things on my to-do list today was to critique the website. As I was clicking around going into different areas of the site, I came across an article titled,
The Criminal Youth Inmate Subculture written by Tracy E. Barnhart who is one of the contributing writers for Barnhart also works at a maximum security prison for males, working specifically with males ages 16-21. The article provides some fascinating insight on what it is like to work there every day and how one should interact with the inmates. One of the main questions that he asks, and then answers is, “How do you motivate and address this violent youth inmate, preventing aggression and attack?” Most of us who are new to the corrections circuit probably have no idea what the answer to that question is. In fact, the question itself might send us into a panic. Barnhart answers the question with the useful knowledge that you must “…assertively communicate respectfully and tactfully…” Again, to those of us out there whose jobs don’t entail interacting with young criminals on a daily basis, this answer might confuse us and send us into yet another state of panic. However, after reading the article, there is, under normal circumstances, no reason to panic. But, what I got from the article is that you have to be very patient, and remember to keep an open mind. The article goes on to explain why those kids do what they do. It mostly has to do with family issues: parents are in jail or dead or their siblings are already incarcerated. It also has to do with where they live and who they are surrounding themselves with.

By reading Barnhart’s article, I also learned what T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E actually stands for. Before, I didn’t even know that it stood for anything. I thought it was just a term tossed around in conversations about members of gangs, and other related topics. To my surprise, there is an entire code of rules that positively enforce gangs and street violence and support the actual “thug” life.

Reading this article has really opened my eyes to the fact that life is so different from place to place. Because I moved away from where I grew up to attend school, I already have some notion that the phrase “real life” is interpreted very differently depending on where you are. I also realize that those who work in corrections facilities do not get the recognition for their hard work that they deserve. In the news we always hear about the hero firefighter or police officer. I am by no means saying that they do not deserve the recognition that they get, I am only saying that those who work in the actual jails have an extremely tough job too and we don’t hear about their heroism as often. People who choose to help those who disrupt the community are admirable in their endeavors. Like I said before, the very thought of entering a facility that holds teenagers that are capable of killing, raping and stealing can cause a person to panic. These people do it every single day and they do it well.

The more investigate and research the corrections community the more excited I am about this internship. I can safely say that after only two days I know more about the world of corrections than most of my friends. To be honest, it is not something that I had previously given any thought to. My lack of knowledge fed my lack of interest. Now, it is the opposite. The more I continue to learn about the subject, the more interested I am; which isn’t always the case because in high school I learned a lot about math but that by no means meant that I got more interested in it as I went along.

I’m glad that I was given the task of critiquing today or else I would not have gotten the chance to take the time to read about juvenile incarceration or realized how much it interested me. I hope to discover similar surprises each day that I come to work. Also, I could use some help in critiquing the website so any suggestions you may have would be appreciated.

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