The Inmates Community

  • Efrat ShohamEmail author
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Criminology book series (BRIEFSCRIMINOL)


Human individuals distinguish themselves from animals by participating in a broad society with codes of values, culture, and common norms. Within the range of general values, individuals try to distinguish themselves using symbols and characteristics that have certain meaning to them, and project a certain public declaration. The criminality phenomenon and the gathering into the gang social structure are mostly characteristic of society’s male part. Studies show that the inmate population is not a passive community that is only operated by the institute management; prisons contain a living, active, and breathing community which has its own unique set of rules. According to the situational model, used to elaborate on the deprivation model, the behavioral norms as well as the code system that guides the inmates in their actions are adapted to the unique environment and social conditions of the specific prison in which the inmates are incarcerated. In an inclusive organization such as a prison, the issue of power and leadership among prisoners takes on an important and significant role. Unlike in other social organizations, where there is a great deal of overlap between powerful people and the organization’s formal leaders, real leadership in prison, as well as significant amount of power, is usually held by inmates’ informal mechanisms. The prisoner community shows great solidarity and social consolidation, however, this consolidation is mostly achieved through means of struggle and violence. The solidarity of the inmate community is based on power struggles and mechanistic agreements that are settled and supervised by the powerful members of the community. An important tool in the prison system, which is used for both supervision and punishment, is the language of the inmate community. This language contains great power. It can confer status, punish banned inmates, and reflect the social supervision and the prisoners’ cultural world. The punishment system that operated in the former Soviet Union, even today, continues to preserve its violent and arbitrary nature. According to the situational model, the extremely violent nature of Russian criminals’ culture can be largely attributed to the violent nature of the Russian punishment system. The Russian community in Israel developed the behavioral models of a community within a community; this is also true in relation to the behavioral rules of Russian criminals in prison.


General Society Israeli Society Inmate Population Detention Facility Supervision System 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of CriminologyAshkelon Academic CollegeAshkelonIsrael

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