>Users:   login   |  register       > email     > people    


Dealing with Civil Disobedience inside a Prison
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 09/23/2019

Inmateclass This article was originally published on Corrections.com on June 4, 2018.

Correctional employees deal with civil disobedience daily during their shift at work. Some may say it is a passive aggressive method to burn off steam or stress. Others recognize it as a natural by-product of the culture within the prison setting. Whether we realize it or not, the prisoner has a powerful tool called ‘civil disobedience’ to communicate displeasure or even refusal to institutional rules and regulations.

How they express these grievances is an important part of a democratic and diplomatic solution within a prison setting; not often recognized is how the matter arises. Nobody wants a controversy to escalate into a controversial or violent situation. So how do we fix this potential problem? How do we stand our ground without letting a prisoner make a mockery of the authority invested in a prison official and in some cases, the lack of common sense that is often injected into the conversation? Using the term ‘democratic process’ lightly, we would like to respond to the prisoner that if you don’t like the rule or law impacted, don’t break the law and come to prison. A more civilized response would be to file an appeal or write a grievance. That is what Civics 101 recommends.

There was a time when this advice might have made sense when the government was small and laws on the books were few and simple. At the same time, prison systems were not as densely populated as today, and overcrowding is a common problem for many states. Culturally speaking, the diversity of races, religions, and customs has made life complicated for correctional employees in how to resolve such matters peaceable and reasonably.

However, that is a reality check of today’s painfully unrealistic situations at times. We are dealing with evolved mass regulations that represent an unbelievable accumulation of many decades of prison lobbying, coalition-building, administrative interpretation, and judicial precedent. Unfortunately, many of these regulations have not kept up with the times of the cultural revolutions inside prisons. The idea that an individual could clear up this quagmire of complicated laws, rules and traditions or customs is asinine.

Outside a prison setting, the democratic process gave us these laws. Inside the prisons, the rules change, and some liberties are lost because of their own violations of the rule of law. In fact, there are many harmful side effects that impede a civilized settlement when the system doesn’t work that way.

Today, correctional administrators and employees deal with the harmful side effects, but this is the way the system works. The modern goal is not to just make things better but also safer. It is to display good faith intentions, to gather credibility whenever they can while dealing with complex issues under pressure. Politics needs to stay out of the conversation.

Politics has become a theatre of fake performances that lends no credibility to the matters at hand. There are no heroes and the audience are other prisoners watching the events as they unfold, giving them food for thought for the next controversy. Inside the prisons, good intentions can go a long way with single-minded pressure groups. Thus, there are no means available to carry out a democratic process, just the facts and a clear explanation of the expectation.

Is there nothing that we can do to counteract foolish and destructive rules and regulations? Yes, but disobedience is not an option even when the rules appear to be unfair or unreasonable. A proven revolutionary tool is to appeal to a higher power through the means provided by the policies of the institution. Appeals do work, but disobedience defeats the credibility of the principle of civil disobedience. There is a difference between the two.

When rules contradict our sense of morality and decency, it is right to disobey them? Civil disobedience points the way to the tactics of reform, but it will not itself address the problem of poorly written rules or overregulation. Civil disobedience is a tactic of mass protest. It assumes a single, objectionable law or rule so prominent that large numbers of people can be marshaled to demonstrate against it. To resist and counter the regulatory administration, prisoners need to create or form small-scale, convenient strategy that can be applied to the masses. It is called “civil noncompliance.” Its aim is to counter a destructive (or foolish) law or rule by finding a quiet way to evade it and change it, whichever may be the case.

By calling the tactic “civil noncompliance”, it was meant to emphasize the element of social responsibility without harming the existing culture. Change should not advocate disobeying laws or unjust rules because one can get away with it because inside a prison, it is highly likely you won’t. One must have a helpful, socially constructive purpose in mind. Something that benefits many rather than just one. By using the term “noncompliance,” I mean to emphasize that this is a polite disobedience. It is not confrontational, and certainly never violent. Civil noncompliance does not presume a battle with prison officials enforcing the rule of law or unfair institutional rules.

The idea is to be credible or to receive tacit support in changing a regulation’s requirements. It is not the notion that prison officials may be willing to “look the other way” as we are accustomed to portraying correctional staff as rigid, power-mad enforcers who enjoy making life difficult for prisoners. There are undoubtedly some in this category, but most prison employees are ordinary human beings who want to be friendly and helpful if the situation allows them to behave accordingly. Government officials often see that some regulations are irrational and harmful. Out of empathy, or embarrassment, they can become allies.

Civil noncompliance is more than a strategy for getting by in an age of over-regulation. It affords an avenue for remaking social governance along new lines. It is designed to meet judicial reforms, culturally sensitive customs and traditions and at the same time, keep a safe and orderly prison operating within the rules of dignity and respect.

The more awareness correctional employees have concerning this matter, the better choices and decisions are made at the most basic levels of supervision. There is no need to rush into a conversation that may have to be examined to be legitimate and have common-sense validity. Recognizing that disobedience is unacceptable, the tools available lies squarely with the prisoner to handle this socially responsible and within the rules of the institution provided.

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

Other articles by ToersBijns:


Comments:

  1. kronospoker on 10/14/2019:

    Kronospoker Situs Judi Online, IDN Poker, IDN Poker Mobile, Agen Poker Terpercaya Indonesia untuk permainan Poker Online, Domino Qiu Qiu, Cemeqq, Capsa Susun dan Super10

  2. fredluis721 on 10/08/2019:

    Great tips and very easy to understand. This will definitely be very useful for me when I get a chance to start my blog. tree service

  3. patsm00re18 on 10/04/2019:

    You have brought up a very superb points! download last day on earth

  4. patsm00re18 on 10/04/2019:

    You have done great job on the blog posts. download pocket tanks

  5. rohit008 on 09/28/2019:

    I’m truly enjoying the design and layout of your blog. It’s a very easy on the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often. Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Exceptional work! Happy Birthday Images

  6. rohit008 on 09/28/2019:

    I’m excited to find this page. I wanted to thank you for ones time due to this wonderful read!! I definitely savored every bit of it and I have you book marked to see new stuff in your web site. https://happybirthdayphotos.com/happy-birthday-images/

  7. mygeekday on 09/25/2019:

    This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information. www.mygeekday.com

  8. DigitalZone on 09/24/2019:

    Three are usually cheap Ralph Lauren available for sale each and every time you wish to buy. Babykleding

  9. DigitalZone on 09/24/2019:

    I’m excited to uncover this page. I need to to thank you for ones time for this particularly fantastic read !! I definitely really liked every part of it and i also have you saved to fav to look at new information in your site. Meisjeskleding

  10. DigitalZone on 09/24/2019:

    It’s very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area. You have opened my eyes to varying views on this topic with interesting and solid content. Jongenskleding

  11. DigitalZone on 09/24/2019:

    Excellent Blog! I would like to thank for the efforts you have made in writing this post. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. I wanted to thank you for this websites! Thanks for sharing. Great websites! Kinderkleding

  12. Sattafixjodi on 09/24/2019:

    Fantastic post. Matka

  13. KatyTshirts on 09/23/2019:

    Great post. This is really infomative. Katy Tshirts specializes in Screen Printing, Embroidery, and Hydro Dipping. Contact us now.

  14. Mason on 03/26/2019:

    The forum has this discussion topic about health conditions and one of them is regarding some help with fungal infection. Open essayontime.com/services/term-paper.html right now. There is not much info about the topic here so you can find a lot more stuff on internet by browsing so you would be remain cautious for your convenience.


Login to let us know what you think

User Name:   

Password:       


Forgot password?





correctsource logo




Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of The Corrections Connection User Agreement
The Corrections Connection ©. Copyright 1996 - 2019 © . All Rights Reserved | 15 Mill Wharf Plaza Scituate Mass. 02066 (617) 471 4445 Fax: (617) 608 9015