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The perversions of prison: on the origins of hypermasculinity and sexual violence in confinement.

"I think we pile on and mistreat weak and defeated prisoners to convince ourselves that we aren't one of them. That can't be me if I'm dominating him, right?" (1)

Prisons and jails are places where social identities are fiercely contested and often radically transformed. Very few inmates emerge complete unscathed by their encounters with this world, and some are damaged for the rest of their lives. Penal institutions force terrible Hobson's choices on people that seem awful at the time they are made and may have even worse--unanticipated and irreversible--consequences later. In male jails and prisons, the most violently contested psychological terrain involves the interrelated issues of power and masculinity. Incarceration is typically experienced for the first time by young men in their late teens or early 20s, most with troubled childhoods, abusive backgrounds, and few successes in life to build on. Many of them are still grappling with basic questions about the adult male identity that they are growing into: Who am I in this world? Can I survive this experience with my "self" intact? Am I "man enough" to make it through? The answers they get back from the surrounding jail and prison environments are deeply unsettling and do nothing to reassure.

The introduction into the rigors of institutional life is wrenching and painful for most inmates; it is arguably designed to be exactly that. Aspects of the process include what sociologists have termed "degradation ceremonies" (2) and "mortification rituals" (3)--the figurative killing of the freeworld identity to make one's institutional self more malleable, more willing and able to conform to the rules and requirements of jail and prison life, and to do so as something less than a fully autonomous person. Although the initial shock eventually subsides, "prisonization"--the shaping of thoughts, feelings, and actions to conform to institutionally imposed mandates and contingencies--proceeds. The process can be so transformative that inmates who adjust "too well" to jail and prison life can be disabled in their struggle to live a successful life anywhere else.

Chronically high recidivism rates mean that the great majority of persons locked up in jails and prisons have been there before. Older, experienced inmates know the routines, the pressures, and the dangers all too well. They have felt or witnessed the consequences of violating one or another of the complex maze of official rules and regulations that are rigidly imposed by staff, and they have seen what happens to persons who fail to meet the equally complicated set of unofficial expectations and demands that are just as harshly administered by the other inmates.

It is against this backdrop that I think Sharon Dolovich's compelling study of the K6G unit in the Los Angeles County Jail is best understood. To be sure, her deep appreciation of life inside jail and prison as an epic struggle over identity and survival is manifest throughout her article. It provides the larger context for the more focused analysis that she engages in and the institutional dynamics she so astutely dissects. Few researchers (and even fewer legal experts) ever truly penetrate the ugly world of an American jail or prison, or enter the subjective experience of persons forced to adapt to it. Professor Dolovich is a rare exception. Indeed, she has emerged as one of the strongest, most sophisticated, and eloquent voices now writing about Eighth Amendment jurisprudence, an area of legal scholarship that has badly needed but sorely lacked such commentators for a long time. (4)

As someone who participated over the last several decades in efforts to make courts aware of the "dark and evil" places that still make up the nation's correctional system, ones that even now remain "completely alien to the free world," (5) I continue to believe that there is far too little light being shined inside these closed institutions. If knowledge is power, then the cause of meaningful prison reform has been weakened by the dearth of illuminating scholarship done by scholars who are committed and conscientious enough to directly observe and deconstruct the cruel realities of day-to-day prison life. That weakness is compounded by the fact that there is far too little outside and effective oversight--the light and heat of correctional reform--being brought to bear on our nation's jails and prisons.

We still live in a bizarre Eighth Amendment world in which inflicting pain (imposing punishment) has become the raison d'etre of imprisonment, where the penal harm movement has provided a justification for cruelty (which is no longer necessarily "unusual"), and past United States Supreme Court decisions have given prison officials an incentive "not to take affirmative steps to identify risks to people in their custody" (6) because doing so exposes them to potential liability. From my perspective, frankly, the problem is not that the courts did just enough to improve prison conditions that they somehow legitimated the penal form, as some have argued; it is rather that they did far too little, and were effectively prevented by Congress from doing more. (7) Moreover, no official body--judicial or otherwise--has stepped up to effectively talk the nation down from the radically punitive heights that politicians and the public reached over the last several decades, ones that gave rise to policies of mass incarceration and led to the abysmal conditions and warehousing mentality that still prevail in so many correctional facilities. Collectively these policies and practices amount to what could be described as a kind of "war on prisoners," waged with the degree of public mobilization, commitment of resources; and aggressive intent ordinarily reserved for foreign enemies. (8) As this war moves well into its fourth decade, it has become prohibitively expensive to conduct and "victory" seems as elusive now as ever. Despite some tantalizing indications that hostilities may be coming to a close, it is still not clear whether or how a comprehensive "ceasefire" will be declared. (9)

Like Professor Dolovich, I, too, "fervently wish things were otherwise" (10) in our nation's jails and prisons. But, after years of documenting and trying to alleviate the profound levels of suffering that exist in these places in the hope of making them fundamentally and comprehensively better, I have arrived at the same position as she--unwilling to wait for that perfect world that affords us the luxury of implementing only truly overarching or completely effective solutions to institutional injustices. Instead, we have learned to grudgingly accept--and sometimes even to thankfully celebrate--what are still too often "imperfect half-measures." (11) Despite this concession, however, I do think that it is possible to both support and help implement practical (albeit imperfect) reforms that are designed to lessen the day-to-day pains of imprisonment and

at the same time to use analysis and action to delegitimate and to challenge the most profound and far-reaching injustices that plague our jails and prisons. This includes, among other things, working against the "prison culture of hypermasculinity." (12) Not only do I think that it is possible to simultaneously undertake these joint missions, but I think Dolovich's own exceptional work, and the K6G unit that is the subject matter of her current article, demonstrate that it is.

To be sure, as Professor Dolovich thoughtfully points out, the K6G unit regrettably employs "official inquiry into the sexual orientation of arrestees in close proximity to others," (13) clearly relies on admissions criteria that are "sorely underinclusive," (14) seems to apply flawed definitions that require "essentializing and oversimplifing the inherently fluid and even mercurial character of same-sex attraction," (15) and in the final analysis implements a state-sanctioned policy of segregation that admittedly "can lead to labeling" that might be "both demoralizing and dangerous." (16) Notwithstanding all of that, like Professor Dolovich I believe that the choice to protect at least some vulnerable inmates from the traumatic victimization that certainly would befall them is a straightforward and well-justified one to make. So I applaud Professor Dolovich for having produced scholarship that not only confronts many vexing penological issues but also, in its reasoned and persuasive defense of K6G, advances the critically important cause of practical jail and prison reform.


In fact, Professor Dolovich does such an outstanding job in explaining the subjectivity of the gay and trans women who live in K6G, and how and why this special unit is worth the sustained attention and defense that she gives it--carefully and convincingly "making the case for the program's success" (17)--that I have very little to add. She tells a powerful story about a valuable and innovative program whose presence and longevity inside the nation's largest (and one of its most troubled) jails makes it all the more remarkable. Professor Dolovich's observations and analysis are meticulous and insightful. Although she praises the K6G unit for its significant achievement--continuing to function as such an exceptional program despite the truly problematic and dysfunctional environment in which it is housed--Dolovich also acknowledges the program's persistent and seemingly insurmountable limitations. She takes both sides into account before giving K6G her considered blessing. As I say, there is little that I can contribute to her compelling assessment.

Instead, I want to undertake the politically incorrect and unpalatable task of attempting to explain the behavior of the men who engage in the awful acts that precipitated K6G's creation and justify its continued existence--the rapists and predators who roam mainline jails and prisons and make units like this one necessary. Let me be clear at the outset of my discussion of prison rape that there is no legal excuse or moral justification that can or should be offered for prisoners who victimize one another in these ways, or more generally for a "prison sexual culture in which the strong prey on the weak and gain status and power through the domination and abuse of fellow human beings." (18) There can and should be a policy of "zero tolerance" with respect to this (and other) forms of violent and coercive victimization in prisons and jails, and the Prison Rape Elimination Act is right to insist upon its eradication in an unsympathetic and uncompromising way. (19)

But I also think it is important not to succumb to the temptation to simply demonize the perpetrators who commit these odious crimes and revert back to a traditional criminal justice framework that privileges only deterrence, detection, and punishment at the expense of explanation, and thus foregoes any simultaneous attempt to address the deeper causes of the behavior in question. Just as adopting this narrow lens in responding to criminal behavior in free society diverts our attention away from its structural and contextual causes, doing so in the case of violence inside prison shifts our focus away from the institutional pressures and pathologies that regrettably make this kind of behavior more likely, and can mask the implicit (and sometimes explicit) official support that facilitates and maintains it.

Although these issues were not the focus of Professor Dolovich's article, she does allude to and implicitly assume many of the same kind of contextual assertions that I will make in the following pages. I emphasize these additional parts of the picture separately and explicitly here out of respect for her abiding concern that we keep the larger issues in mind while attempting to solve those problems that we can. Keeping all sides of these awful realities in mind allows us to address them as creatively and effectively as possible, in the short run, while at the same time not losing sight of why these immediate and more practicable solutions will never really "fix" the larger problem.

My experiences studying jail and prison environments over the last several decades have taught me never to underestimate their potential to destructively transform and psychically disfigure the persons who are kept inside them. I have seen many frightened young men enter these places in terror only to eventually become fearsome predators themselves, watched men who grew up in multi-racial communities (and even multi-racial households) transformed into vitriolic racists who viciously attacked one another on the basis of nothing more than skin color, ethnicity, or geography, and I have even known some men fortunate enough to have been raised by loving mothers and doting sisters--toward whom they were deeply respectful--who nonetheless became raging misogynists who degraded weaker inmates by trying to turn them into "women." These and other kinds of extreme behaviors in jails and prisons are uncharacteristic of many of the people who nonetheless engage in them during confinement. That is, they are often carried out by persons who have never done these things before, and who will struggle to refrain from doing them once they are released.

The transformative nature of the perverse sexual culture that pervades our jails and prisons is especially important to try to explain, in part because its existence cuts so deeply and acutely into the psyches of many prisoners, and in part because it reveals so much about how dangerously pathological day-to-day life inside many of our correctional institutions has become. I often challenge my students to try to imagine an environment that is more perfectly suited to generate sexual dysfunction and depredation than jail and prison. It is difficult to do. Grown men are emasculated and infantilized by the very conditions of their confinement and the way that prisonization erodes their sense of personal autonomy, agency, and efficacy. They are likely to feel humiliated and dehumanized by the way they are treated, by the near total lack of privacy, and by the absence of any control over even the most mundane aspects of their existence.

Jail and prison inmates live under conditions that severely diminish their sense of self, imposing institutional practices and employing personnel that categorize, regard, and treat them as if they were utterly interchangeable, devoid of the unique needs, concerns, or talents that make each of us individuals. Because many correctional institutions function as though the people that they house are not fully human--performing what some have characterized as "waste management" functions (20)--it is all too easy for inmates to slip into applying this worldview to each other--seeing their fellows as lacking in value and somehow deserving of the degraded and diminished treatment they receive--while at the same time fighting against the tendency to apply it to oneself.

Jail and prison inmates live in an emotionally scarred environment that is dominated by anger and fear, where they are subjected to sometimes cruel and even sadistic treatment. Public displays of caring, nurturing, and empathy are not only extremely rare in these places but regarded as dysfunctional and, for all practical purposes, prohibited. Despite the fact that many men are confined in jails and prison at an age when their sexual needs and wants (both physical and psychological) are at their peak, there are literally no officially sanctioned outlets through which they can express or satisfy them. If an inmate had an ongoing sexual relationship with another person before he entered jail or prison, he will be prevented from continuing it; if he did not, he will not be able to develop one during the months or years that he is incarcerated.

As I say, from the theoretical perspective that I have learned to value and employ over many years of studying the dynamics of jail and prison life, (21) the "hypermasculinity" and corresponding maladies of misogyny and homophobia that pervade these worlds are deeply situational in nature. So, too, is the inversion of sexual prowess in which hypermasculine men--ones who may regale each other with tales of heterosexual conquest from their freeworld lives and take pride in the attractiveness of their female visitors and women pen pals--also simultaneously display their high status and superior power by having forced sex with men. (22) This particular prison pathology--a proclivity to sexually victimize other men--is certainly not one that all of these prisoners brought with them to jail or prison; if they are lucky, it is not one that will persist upon their release. In this respect, then, these inverted sexual dynamics in which hypermasculinity is performed through forced homosexual behavior are a testament to the power of prison to fundamentally change people, to distort and disturb their sexual identities as well as other core aspects of their pre-existing "self."

To put a somewhat finer point on this, note that neither prisoners who have been identified as having committed rape in the world outside prison nor those who are known to have engaged extensively in homosexual behavior before they were incarcerated are typically allowed to participate fully in these power dynamics inside; members of both groups are ordinarily positioned at or near the bottom of the prison pecking order and, for this reason, are largely excluded from the circles where these ugly status rituals play out. Thus, homosexual rape in men's prison is often committed by persons who have no experience with rape or with homosexuality. The environment of jail and prison renders them capable of both.

No one can predict with certainty whether, exactly when, or precisely why someone will eventually cross the profoundly important line between continuing to absorb and attempting to withstand the mounting frustrations and pressures that build inside harsh and deprived correctional environments until, one day, finally give in to this fear, desperation, and anger by taking violent action. Bridging what some philosophers have called "'the gap' between what causes us to act and our actually doing so" (23) is difficult to fathom in any individual case, and especially so when the acts in question involve victimizing people who are perceived to be weaker or more vulnerable. And yet, in the moment that an inmate resorts to "actually doing" something--in this case, doing something unspeakable to a fellow inmate who is also struggling to survive in one of these degraded places--the perils and pressures of life inside jail and prison undoubtedly provide much of the psychological momentum that finally pushes him across that terrible "gap."

The specific conditions that propel this kind of predatory behavior are many and varied. The perverse tendency of fear to generate aggression, as a form of preemptive self-defense, is one of them. To be sure, jail and prison inmates have much to fear in the course of their confinement. Wolff and Shi's study of a large and representative sample of prisoners found that fully one-third of male prisoners reported having been victimized through some form of physical trauma in the preceding six months of their incarceration, and the rate increased to nearly half among those who suffered from mental disorders. (24)

Moreover, Professor Dolovich is absolutely right that "fear of rape motivates displays of hypermasculinity among prisoners wishing to avoid being 'turned out' themselves." (25) Taken to its extreme, the forced selection between the ugly options of raping or being raped--or, at least, appearing capable of raping or risking the increased chance of suffering it yourself--is another of the Hobson's choices that many of these cruel environments force on their captives. The explanation of why prisoners exploit each other sexually in the first place may stem in part from the fact that so many of the factors that are known to produce sexual violence in general appear in such concentrated degrees in jail and prison settings--including the veneration of toughness, acceptance of aggression, restricted emotionality, a lack of empathy, and the distrust of others. (26) In this sense, then, the very atmosphere and ethos that prevail in correctional environments contribute to and promote sexual victimization. Ironically, as the fear of sexual victimization increases, it leads men to act in hypermasculine ways that make such aggression even more likely to occur.

Even in places where it is statistically rare, there is little question that inmates know that sexual victimization occurs in jail and prison and that many of them fear it. Over the years, countless prisoners have told me that they can "feel" the threat of rape "in the air" around them, or have heard frightening accounts of it having taken place, even if they have not seen it themselves or been directly victimized. It is the primordial fear that their hyper-vigilance and preemptive, aggressive posturing is often implicitly designed to reduce. Although the prevalence of sexual victimization in correctional settings is difficult to determine exactly--the range of published estimates of the rates of sexual pressure and/or rape in prison vary from less than 1% to as much as 41% (27)--it is almost certainly underreported in many instances, and perhaps to a significant degree. (28) Moreover, the amount of actual sexual victimization--and the sense of imminent threat and resulting fear--is thought to increase as overall conditions of confinement deteriorate. As one recent review suggested, "[g]iven the increased prison crowding and escalating tensions in the last four decades" in American corrections, a sexual victimization rate of "[o]ne in 10 is a more realistic figure ... and this figure may increase in settings with gang prevalence and racial tensions." (29)

Unfortunately, there are many correctional institutions in the United States where these exacerbating conditions--high levels of overcrowding, gang prevalence, and racial tensions--have become the rule rather than the exception. The Los Angeles County Jail where the K6G unit is located is clearly one of them. The overall county jail system in Los Angeles is by far the largest local jail jurisdiction in the United States, holding nearly 50% more inmates than the next largest, New York City's. (30) As Professor Dolovich reports, Los Angeles County Jail houses over 19,000 inmates at any one time; in 2005, more than 180,000 persons were booked into one or another of its eight facilities. (31) The Men's Central Jail, where K6G is physically located, is the largest jail in the world. (32)

In addition to being so physically large and populous, the Los Angeles County Jail system has been the subject of ongoing litigation over unconstitutional conditions of confinement since the late 1970s. (33) The most recent ACLU report on conditions in the Jail bemoaned the fact that, some thirty years after this litigation was commenced, many of the awful conditions that were originally targeted "still persist, together with an apparent culture of violence and fear, including prisoner assaults and the use of excessive force by deputies." (34) In addition, it is plagued by a level of overcrowding that places prisoners at risk, exposes mentally ill prisoners to "toxic living conditions" that "further exacerbate mental illness among prisoners who suffer from it," and contributes to a "failure to identify and provide treatment to prisoners housed there." (35) Although the Jail, and particularly the Men's Central facility, is unusual because of its sheer size and the large number of inmates it holds at any one time, it is unfortunately not unique in terms of the massive number of problems it faces or the horrific conditions of confinement to which inmates housed there are subjected. Indeed, there are a number of prisons in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation--a system that operates over thirty facilities in the state and houses well over 150,000 prisoners at any one time--that are plagued by many of the same problems. (36)

As Professor Dolovich correctly asserts, there are no obvious or good reasons why jails and prisons could not go to much greater lengths to at least attempt to meet their obligation "to protect all vulnerable prisoners." (37) Yet, too few really do. Indeed, in many jails and prisons across the United States there are staff members who not only neglect their duty to protect vulnerable inmates but also themselves either directly brutalize them or engage in behaviors that lead indirectly to their victimization. Of course, this is not true of all correctional staff members, a large number of whom are entirely decent, well-intentioned, and caring. But there also are many who are not, and they often act with impunity, knowing that their colleagues are unlikely ever to intervene or to restrain them.

To be sure, some facilities are far worse than others in this regard. The K6G unit is housed in such a place. Thus, the ACLU Report described a "persistent pattern of abuse" by deputies at the Los Angeles Men's Central Jail and provided numerous examples. (38) It also reported that many prisoners complained that they had been "retaliated against and harassed by jail staff for ... challenging the conditions of their confinement," (39) and recounted many "complaints alleging that deputies have carelessly, or even purposefully, placed them in harm's way." (40)

However, as I said, although the Men's Central Jail may be at or near the endpoint on the continuum of intolerable living conditions to which it subjects its captives, most men in most jails and prisons routinely confront dire, desperate, and dangerous circumstances. They rarely have anywhere to turn for help. The thick and largely impenetrable psychological barriers that divide prisoners from guards and the prison code itself preclude them from seeking protection from staff who, in any event, as I also noted, may be as eager to precipitate or even participate directly in their further humiliation and mistreatment as to alleviate their suffering. This level of deprivation and degradation reduces people to a basic state of despair and anger where they lash out at one another. If they victimize each other in the ways that Professor Dolovich describes (and the existence of the K6G unit confirms), however, it is at least in part because we place them in environments where their damage, distress, and despair go unnoticed and unaddressed.


Understanding the role that sexual aggression, in particular, plays under these dire and bleak conditions requires a discussion of another important dimension to this hidden world. Gender scholars have defined the concept of "hegemonic masculinity" as that form of masculinity that approximates the cultural ideal of "manhood" and observed that it varies across and within cultures and over time. (41) David Karp has suggested that "[i]n American culture, hegemonic masculinity is characterized by authority, control, independence, heterosexuality, aggressiveness, and a capacity for violence." (42) Note that only the last two--"aggressiveness and a capacity for violence"--are possible to unequivocally achieve in jail and prison. So it should not be at all surprising that many of the displays of masculinity that occur behind bars take aggressive and violent forms, often in exaggerated degrees.

Moreover, as R.W. Connell has noted, "violence often arises in the construction of masculinities, as part of the practice by which particular men or groups of men claim respect, intimidate rivals, or try to gain material advantages ... [I]t is very often a means of claiming or defending privilege, asserting superiority or taking an advantage." (43) All three of the goals that Connell mentions--respect, intimidation, and material advantage--are very much part of the enactment of masculinity that occurs in prison. Here, too, there are very few other avenues by which these things can be obtained except through the exercise of violent masculinity, and equally few other seemingly worthwhile goals that prisoners can realistically strive to obtain through less forceful means.

If the dynamics of sexual victimization play out "along surprisingly conventional lines," ones in which "men dominate women," (44) or dominate men whom they temporarily turn into "women," (45) it is because prisoners have learned these dynamics in the same place everyone else has--a larger society that is still plagued by deeply sexist norms in which many men seek to place women in weak and degraded positions and believe that they have achieved "power" only when they have managed to subjugate them in this way.

The exaggerated, aggressive form of masculinity that is often displayed among prisoners is sometimes termed "hypermasculinity." But hypermasculinity in prison is the "hyper" form of a particular kind of pre-prison "masculinity." Most of the men who end up in jail and prison have had access to no other kind. It is certainly true that many of them have undergone what might be termed "traditional male socialization" of the sort that has taught them to value or privilege their physicality, foremost among other "manly" things. Inmates in the United States are overwhelmingly poor and disproportionately men of Color, many having confronted the structural barriers of both class and race throughout their lives. (46) As children, they often have passed through one substandard school after another until abruptly being shunted into the juvenile justice system. Adult jails and prisons are the logical next steps in this callous process. In fact, this particular and particularly regrettable pathway is so well-traveled that commentators have dubbed it the "school to prison pipeline." (47) This pipeline has captured and redirected the life courses of so many young men of Color that the term that has been given to the collective outcomes it produces, "disproportionate minority confinement," is known among many juvenile justice researchers and practitioners simply by its acronym--"DMC." (48) The great majority of adolescent boys and young men who are being pushed and pulled through this pipeline are very often denied the opportunity to learn other models of manhood, are rarely taught gentler and less confrontational ways of standing up or standing out, or given the opportunity to excel through the exercise of their intellect or sensitivity rather than physical intimidation.

In the freeworld outside of jail and prison, many of these men have long been structurally marginalized and emasculated and will be again when they return to it, even though the fearsomeness with which they display their masculinity in prison is designed to mask this fact. They have been diminished by a society that first creates and then devalues its un- and under-educated, that too readily discards worthy but nonetheless needy people who lack the requisite social or economic capital to make effective claims for services and opportunities, and largely ignores the plight of persons whose years of prior abuse, neglect, trauma and maltreatment--sometimes inflicted or exacerbated by an uncaring and brutalizing juvenile justice system that they encountered along the way--has damaged and hopelessly compromised their life chances. To be more precise, on this latter point, our society typically remains oblivious to their plight until their behavior becomes so obviously troubled and troublesome that the criminal justice system begins to take an all too active interest in them. The harshness, abuse, and neglect they encounter in jail and prison are sadly very familiar to many of them--a concentrated dose of the kind of damaging experiences they have already undergone. In this way, the pains of their instutitional Confinement represent a form of "retraumatization" for many.

Much of the strange combination of desperation and bravado that characterizes jail and prison comes about in part because of these trajectories. Many inmates have already come to terms with their fate and future, if only at an intuitive level. They know or can vaguely sense that they are very likely to return to jail or prison no matter how hard they try (in many parts of the country they have about a two-to-one chance of returning to jail or prison within three years after being released and, if they are African American, the odds worsen to about three to one). (49) They have already begun to grapple with the limited life paths that the conditions under which they have been raised have consigned them. In addition to the structural disadvantage they continue to confront, many men in jail and prison also suffer unaddressed drug or alcohol addictions, untreated mental health problems, and spotty work histories that prevent them from successfully fulfilling traditional male roles in the larger society. Contrary to popular stereotypes, very few of them are ignorant of their already compromised choices, unaware of their inability to meet their own social, familial, and personal expectations and obligations, or proud of the fact that they cannot.

By the time they have graduated to adult penal institutions many men have learned to cover their fear and shame by engaging in exaggerated displays of physical power and prowess. They show their "strength" by violating rules and each other. They flaunt "conventions" that others lack the "courage" to challenge, and perfect the skills of dominating less powerful others, sometimes in part because they have realized early on that--worse than the fact that they will never be fully accepted by "conventional" society--they are likely to be at the mercy of a system that, from their perspective, relentlessly conspires to keep them "weak." Their bravado notwithstanding, they are relegated to playing a sometimes deadly and ultimately pointless form of prison "bumper cars"--revved up and bouncing off one another in violent collisions that are allowed to take place only inside a highly circumscribed correctional "race track" that is carefully engineered to contain the damage, so that (hopefully) they only hurt one another.

Fellow prison researcher Terry Kupers has argued that what he calls "toxic masculinity" (50) derives in part from a feeling of insecurity and compromised masculinity. In the prison world, he writes, "[t[he failed or fallen man is the one who is not 'manly.'" (51) I would add only that virtually every man in prison is a failed or fallen man, in some important ways, and they are constantly reminded of their devalued status as an "inmate" by the levels of deprivation they endure, the humiliation and degradation they experience at the hands of their captors, and the stigmatization and other obstacles that they know await them once they are released back into their freeworld communities. In many ways, maintaining some semblance of self esteem in prison requires them to do whatever they can in order to avoid becoming even more "failed or fallen," hoping to escape the psychic endpoint that they have undoubtedly seen others reach--inmates who literally cannot bear their compromised existence any longer, who have lost all hope and self respect, and eventually relinquish the will to live itself.

Occasionally, of course, prisoners are able to transcend their compromised status by excelling at the few positive, pro-social things that are made available to them in prison--school or work or whatever meaningful programming may exist inside the rare institution where these things are still being earnestly offered. But for many prisoners who are housed in the warehouse-like facilities that have become commonplace over the last several decades, such opportunities are increasingly difficult to obtain. Indeed, fully half of the nearly hundred thousand prisoners who were released from the hopelessly overcrowded California prison system in 2006 returned home not having participated in a single job or program assignment during the entire period of their imprisonment. (52) For them, of course, there was little or nothing positive at which to excel or achieve. And, although fortunately very few prison systems are worse than California in this regard, most jails everywhere are. That is, because they are designed for only "short-term" confinement--which unfortunately can nonetheless extend for years--jails are virtually always plagued by chronic idleness. Most lack the physical space, personnel, and other resources with which to even attempt to provide program-ruing or other activities.

Denied otherwise pro-social (and subsequently useful) outlets and activities, prisoners have been left with few dimensions along which to preserve a viable sense of self. It is little wonder that so many of them fall back on the very few status characteristics that they feel they truly "own"--the few remaining things that the institution cannot take away from them--their gender and their race/ ethnicity. It is also not surprising that both things are elevated to an exaggerated status in jail and prison. Thus, Professor Dolovich addresses thoughtfully but necessarily in passing "the gang politics and consequent pressure and volatility that define daily life" (53) in the general population of many jails and prisons (and certainly in the Los Angeles County Jail). I would add only the point that the racial and ethnic prison gang dynamics are not entirely unrelated to the sexual violence whose consequences she effectively chronicles.

The racial gang culture is one that she correctly characterizes as "deeply offensive and troubling." (54) Unfortunately, however, it too makes perfect psychological sense in the unpredictably dangerous world of jail and prison. People who live under conditions of scarcity, threat, and alienation often band together to create a sense of security and safety, to improve their material conditions when and how they can, and to feel connected and bonded, to belong. Even though they may take these otherwise understandable impulses to extreme and ultimately counter-productive lengths, over time perverting the original intentions of their founding members, the gangs are typically initiated and maintained in large part in response to the same dire and dangerous circumstances that motivate other kinds of destructive behavior in prison.

Threatening correctional environments force prisoners to rely on simple, clear rules by which they can categorize each other as friend or foe. Inmates do not have the luxury of carefully and systematically forming their "character assessments" of the people with whom they are forced to live or gradually size up the trustworthiness or violence potential of the persons who surround them. Instead, they must make rapid judgments based on very little if any reliable information. In this bizarre world, outward racial characteristics and visual or public displays of group allegiances (such as tattoos) allow inmates to estimate each other's essence--unfortunately, without really knowing it--and to use this surface information as a measure of who they really "are." (55) The extent and rigidity of the rules that gangs enforce speak in part to the intimacy of the forced contact and attendant vulnerability: if people are going to be "separate" in a world where they are forced to be so closely "together," then they are going to have to go to extreme lengths in order to maintain divisions and enforce in-group commonalities, or soon all boundaries will cease to exist.

These psychosocial pressures are animated and amplified by a sense of broad, implicit, underlying theat. Gangs only flourish in a jail or prison society where there is a strong undercurrent of fear and reminders of one's own vulnerability abound. Otherwise there would not be the same high degree of urgency that induces so many inmates to join, no pressures strong enough to convince or compel young men to bargain away years of their future freedom in exchange for the guarantee of momentary safety and the fleeting sense of belonging to something larger than themselves. To be sure, gang membership not only promises to protect them but also to connect them to a cause seemingly more meaningful than their own sometimes troubled, incoherent past. In the face of the heightened sense of alienation, loneliness, and adversity that jails and prisons impose, this is a bargain that many men gladly make. No one wants to appear "alone and nervous or scared" or "too trusting" of other inmates, (56) because these things invite victimization. Of course, the gangs take care of all of that. But for a price.

Although few if any gangs explicitly condone rape, the vague and implicit fear of sexual victimization underscores the danger of life in jail and prison and is what seals the deal for many potential members. In this sense, then, there is a kind of symbiotic relationship between viable prison threats--and the threat of rape is the worst one of all--and the existence of prison gangs. Moreover, the fear of sexual victimization and the existence of prison gangs are related in another way. Gang members carry themselves with a certain swagger in prison: they are confident, have purpose, seem to derive visible strength from the numbers of others to whom they are connected, and have easier access to the scarce goods and services available in the underground inmate economy. They are, in short, "more manly." The outward displays of status and swagger that come from gang membership may alone be enough to establish one's masculine bona tides. In this way, the gangs inadvertently but nonetheless effectively trade on the fear of this kind of victimization, implicitly promising to keep their members safe from it, and simultaneously obviating the need for them to participate in it themselves.

With this larger context in mind, it is not surprising that K6G's success includes having "created a space relatively free from the gang culture that fuels much of the violence" (57) in the Los Angeles Men's Central Jail, or that it has done so more successfully than another seemingly similar unit designed for "protective custody"--a place for "keepaways" who cannot be housed with other mainline prisoners. (58) I think that the neutralization of gang politics is both a partial cause and consequence of K6G's success. It may well be that the K6G unit is simply better run and more carefully policed by the two heroic deputies who have invested so much in its operation over the years. (59) But it is also the case that its residents have something of a common identity and shared vulnerability that connects them to each other. Men in traditional protective custody units are there for a variety of reasons, and it is much easier for those variations to become the basis for a hierarchy of sorts to be established, and even for forms of gang dynamics and destructive prison politics to re-emerge.


Professor Dolovich has observed that "men who seek access to K6G by pretending to be gay" is "a frequent occurrence" (60)--she estimates at times as many as four to five per day in the Men's Central Jail alone. (61) The men who want into this unit badly enough to claim that they are gay--when they are not--employ ruses that are so convincing that it requires "detective work" (62) to cull them out from the inmates who actually warrant admission under the program's rules. This is remarkable in itself, both because it speaks to the success (and successful reputation) of the K6G unit and also because it simultaneously underscores the magnitude of the dangers that await inmates who are unable to obtain access to it.

"Pretending to be gay" is not just a clever ploy that an inmate can use to "get over" on staff without also incurring potentially dangerous future consequences. Status and identity in prison and jail are highly contested and subject to change, as I have suggested, but primarily in the sense that people are forced by others to become "someone else" in order to adapt to and survive the pressures and dangers that they confront. Identity shifts like these are not freely chosen nor are they easily relinquished. Thus, someone who "pretends to be gay" in one context (i.e., K6G) may find himself "permanently gay" in his later life in prison, whether he chooses to be or not. Reputations and rumors follow you closely in jail and prison, which is one of the reasons many inmates who desperately need protection nonetheless fail to seek it. Many of the inmates Professor Dolovich observed who were trying to "fake" their way into K6G surely understood this, and were still willing to risk serious problems in the future in the hope of insuring their immediate safety. (63) In this sense, despite its success, the existence of a unit like K6G is a sad commentary and concession by jails and prisons that they simply cannot or will not more radically modify prevailing conditions and effectively control the destructive forces that are unleashed that place the safety of mainline prisoners so gravely at risk.

This is clearly a point that Professor Dolovich makes powerfully, but from my perspective it cannot be underscored enough--the "indication of how desperately scary, dangerous, and unpleasant life is in GP." (64) Moreover, as I have repeatedly suggested, the Los Angeles County Jail unfortunately does not have a monopoly on desperate, dangerous, and unpleasant housing units among the nation's correctional facilities, Notwithstanding K6G's reputation as one of the most unique and successful units in the country designed to protect vulnerable gay men and trans women, I believe there are general population units in many jails and prisons across the country where frightened heterosexual men would gladly "claim to be gay" if it represented the same pathway to safety. There is an undoubtedly very large group of inmates in facilities throughout the United States who should he in a unit like K6G but cannot be because their jail or prison does not operate one.

Even though, as I said at the outset of this commentary, I do not think we have the luxury of waiting for longer-term and more complete fixes before "doing something" about these problems, I do think that it is imperative to continue to press for overarching correctional reform, reform in which the proliferation of K6G-type units would be a valuable but nonetheless only modest part. This is because the nature of these loftier goals can help to guide the more immediate, practical solutions and also because, frankly, without them, we will never be able to adequately address and alleviate the damage and destruction that too many penal institutions continue to inflict. In fact, in addition to the humanitarian concerns that the plight of the victims of prison sexual threats and assaults should elicit in compassionate citizens everywhere, there are broader consequences that are brought about by the sheer number of people whom we now move in and out of our correctional facilities on a regular basis. Because literally hundreds of thousands of prisoners are released back into society each year in the United States, the pathological culture of jail and prison has a powerfully destructive impact on the larger social world in which free citizens live. We know that many communities that have high concentrations of formerly incarcerated persons often hover on the edge of a "tipping point," one in which the social infrastructure itself is at risk of crumbling under the weight of the many unaddressed problems that so many hurting, troubled, and disconnected men and women need help with when they return. (65)

In addition, in less obvious ways, these institutions also function as important sites for the reproduction of two pernicious social evils that continue to plague our society--toxic masculinity and persistent racism. Breathing the misogynist air of jails and prisons for any length of time may normalize this otherwise odious value system. In more extreme cases, the act of degrading men by imagining them to be women, and then forcefully dominating them in order to enhance one's own manly status cannot fail to have lasting psychological consequences for those persons who participate in it as well as those who observe this process seemingly legitimize& The fact that male prisoners are so reluctant to talk openly about any of this, even in contexts where there are no obvious repercussions, underscores how delicate and difficult these issues will be to ever candidly address. (66) The visibility that the PREA has brought to the topic of prison rape and the victim services that are being arranged under its auspices rightly focus on those persons who have suffered most because of the prison sexual assaults they have experienced. (67) But some attention also needs to be paid to the consequences of the perverse sexual environment of jail and prison on those who succumb to its pressures by becoming perpetrators. The issue has been ignored for so long that I am honestly not sure how much precise knowledge any of us have of the depth and breadth of these kinds of potential long-term effects, but I do know that the issue should not be ignored simply because its consequences are difficult to measure or estimate.

In the larger society to which nearly all of these men will return, empathy, tenderness, and gender equity are increasingly valued in intimate, interpersonal, and professional relations. Unfortunately, adapting to the sexually dysfunctional world of jail and prison further marginalizes them--this time from achieving fulfilling personal relationships and genuine social adjustment. It undermines their ability to earn and acquire the kind of social support and acceptance that may be crucial to their successful reintegration into the larger society. In the same way that I believe that the racial hatred that is intensified by the prison gang culture operates to exacerbate and perpetuate racism in the world beyond the prison walls--those same hundreds of thousands of people are released each year back into society from jails and prisons where race-based animosities have been allowed to fester for decades, too often with official backing (68)--so too the perverse sexual/power dynamics that have been created in prison (of which the threat and reality of prison rape are extreme examples) must in some way perpetuate and exacerbate sexism, misogyny, and even homophobia outside.

With these things in mind, it is important to realize that in the recent history of the "penal harm" movement in the United States and the devolving standards of decency that it brought about, we have come to the point where we must strive mightily to create and protect "safe spaces for the most vulnerable prisoners" (69)--in this case, for the gay and trans women who are housed in K6G--while lamenting the fact that our jails and prisons cannot yet make good on their "obligation to protect all vulnerable prisoners." (70) Regrettably, the obligation to provide "safe spaces" for all prisoners, many of whose vulnerabilities may be more difficult to discern, is nowadays no longer vigorously advocated or even seriously aspired to in many legal circles in the United States. So I join with Professor Dolovich in applauding the K6G unit and the courageous staff and officials who began and maintained it, and I reach the same conclusion as she about not fixing something that "ain't (that) broke." (71) But the larger context in which it operates is broke as hell, and the massive effort needed to fix it is long overdue.

The near total loss of privacy and dignity, the widespread harassment and degradation and dangers, and the corresponding undermining of self esteem and personhood that are intrinsic parts of the "carceral experience" in many contemporary American jails and prisons are excessive and unnecessary. They should be repeatedly challenged and remedied whenever and wherever they can be. Equally surely, they are unlikely to be effectively brought under control--let alone to disappear--under prevailing prison law doctrines and the larger context of punitiveness that has characterized our nation's political and public discourse over the last several decades. At the very least, a widespread educational campaign is sorely needed, one that systematically and unflinchingly instructs citizens, politicians, and correctional policymakers about the human as well as economic costs of the draconian system that we have created. As I said at the outset of this commentary, Professor Dolovich--in her current work and much of her other scholarship--is contributing mightily to this effort.

As Professor Dolovich systematically demonstrates, the practical necessity of having a unit like K6G seems to far outweigh the problems that remain with its operation. Yet, in some ways, that conclusion begs the larger question of what is wrong with a society in which, in just one city, over 20,000 people are housed each day in a place so dangerous that some of them try desperately to convince a classification officer that they are gay (when they are not)--risking long-term stigmatization and even grave danger in their future incarceration, hoping to don light blue uniforms that will announce their stigmatized status to the rest of the jail--in the hope of garnering an added measure of safety and survive the experience just this one time. The K6G unit is surely worth having; indeed, its continued existence in this chronically troubled jail is nothing short of miraculous. But you have to wonder whether this is the very best we can do.

(1.) Comment made to me during a March, 2011 interview with a prisoner who has a long history of prison conflicts and assaults.

(2.) See Harold Garfinkel, Conditions of Successful Degradation Ceremonies, 61 AM. J. Soc. 420, 421-424 (1965).

(3.) ERVING GOFFMAN, ASYLUMS: ESSAYS ON THE, SOCIAL SITUATION OF MENTAL PATIENTS AND OTHER INMATES 14 (Doubleday 1961). In the course of these mortification rituals, institutions require inmates to relinquish many of the things on which their unique identity and sense of self depend, including most of their personal property and possessions, aspects of their appearance, desired status markers, and control over the countless, mundane, day-to-day decisions we ordinarily take for granted but nonetheless help to define us as who we "are."

(4.) For example, see her masterful discussion of many of these issues in: Sharon Dolovich, Cruelty, Prison Conditions, and the Eighth Amendment, 84 N.Y.U.L. REV. 881 (2008).

(5.) Hutto v. Finney, 437 U.S. 678 (1978) (citing district court opinion).

(6.) Sharon Dolovich, Strategic Segregation in the Modern Prison, 48 AM. CRLM. L. REV. 1, 32 n.175 (2011).

(7.) Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995, Title VIII of Pub. L. 104-134, 110 Stat. 1321-66 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 18 U.S.C.). As one commentator accurately summarized: "Passed under dubious circumstances and limited congressional debate, no other piece of legislation has altered the landscape of prison oversight in this country as much as the PLRA." Stan Stojkovic, Prison Oversight and Prison Leadership, 30 PACE L. REV. 1476, 1481 (2010).

(8.) See generally Craig Haney, Counting Casualties in the War on Prisoners, 43 U.S.EL. REV. 87 (2008); Craig Haney, Demonizing the "Enemy": The Role of Science in Declaring the "War on Prisoners, "' 9 CONN. PUB. INT. L. J. 139 (2010).

(9.) For example, in June 2005, the Christian Science Monitor reported that "[f]rom Massachusetts to Michigan, states are placing greater emphasis on rehabilitation--establishing reentry programs to help prisoners transition back to society, shortening sentences, and diverting abuse offenders to treatment instead of jail." Sara Miller, California Prison Boom Ends, Signaling a Shift in Priorities, CHRISTIAN SCI. MONITOR, June 20, 2005, available at See also CHRISTINE S. SCOTT-HAYWARD, VERA INST. OF JUSTICE, THE FISCAL CRISIS IN CORRECTIONS: RETHINKING POLICIES AND PRACTICES 3 (2009), available at (citing the National Association of State Budget Officers, State Expenditure Reports). Many commentators predict that the anticipated changes will be driven by economics. For example: "The current financial crisis, complicated by the rise in correctional expenses and in their relative share of the budget, has yielded a new set of correctional discourses and practices, fueled by a language of scarcity." Hadar Aviram, Humonetarianism: The New Correctional Discourse, 7 HASTINGS RACE & POVERTY L. J. 1, 2-3 (2010) (footnotes omitted). Even more recently, journalist Sasha Abramsky, a longtime critic of the nation's policies of mass imprisonment [see 8ASHA ABRAMSKY, HARD TIME BLUES: HOW POLITICS BUILT A PRISON NATION (2002)], suggested that "[t]he era of 'Lock 'em up and throw away the key' seems, slowly, to be drawing to a close. And over the next few decades, that will likely have the effect of gradually drawing down the size of the bloated prison population." Sasha Abramsky, Is this the End of the War on Crime? THE NATION, July 5, 2010, available at:,1. Yet, despite all the encouraging talk about "new trends" toward decarceration and promising predictions about reducing the size and reach of the penal state, prison and jail populations remain at or near all-time highs. The much-anticipated widespread shifts in penal philosophy have yet to translate into significantly different sentencing or prison policies in most jurisdictions and they do not seem to have produced significantly greater public appreciation of the human as well as economic costs of incarceration.

(10.) Dolovich, supra note 6, at 10.

(11.) Id. at 11.

(12.) Id. at 10.

(13.) Id. at 28.

(14.) Id. at 54.

(15.) Id. at 21 n.l15.

(16.) Id. at 55 (quoting Brown v. Bd. of Educ., 347 U.S. 483,493-94 (1954)).

(17.) Dolovich, supra note 6, at 9.

(18.) Dolovich, supra note 6, at 10.

(19.) Prison Rape Elimination Act, 42 U.S.C. [section]15601-15609 (2003). See also National Prison Rape Elimination Commission, National Prison Rape Elimination Commission Report, available at http://www.ncjrs.gove/pdfiles 1/226680.pdf.

(20.) Jonathan Simon, From Confinement to Waste Management: The Post-Modernization of Social Control, 8 Focus ON LAW STUDIES 4 (1993).

(21.) For example, see generally CRAIG HANEY, REFORMING PUNISHMENT: PSYCHOLOGICAL LIMITS TO THE PAINS OF IMPRISONMENT (2006); Craig Haney, The Contextual Revolution in Psychology and the Question of Prison Effects', in THE EFZECTS OF IMPRISONMENT 66--93 (Alison Liebling and Shadd Maruna, eds., Willan Publishing 2005); Craig Haney, Curtis Banks, & Philip Zimbardo, Interpersonal Dynamics in a Simulated Prison, 1 INT'L. J. CRIMINOLOGY AND PENOLOGY 69-97 (1973); Craig Haney and Philip Zimbardo, Persistent Dispositionalism in Interactionist Clothing: Fundamental Attribution Error in Explaining Prison Abuse, 35 PERSONALITY AND NOC. PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN 807-814 (2009).

(22.) It is important to note that not all jails and prisons are the same in this regard, and certainly not all inmates participate actively in the sexualized power dynamics that Professor Dolovich, I and others have described. These generalizations are just that--normatively correct in many correctional settings but by no means universally applicable. Yet the lack of universality does not undermine the capacity of the jail and prison context to generate tremendous psychological pressure that is felt by virtually all inmates, even though it may dramatically transform the behavior of only some in these ways.

(23.) Geoffrey Hawthorn, This Is a Book Review, 33 LONDON REVIEW OF BOOKS, Jan. 20, 2011, at 26 (discussing the work of philosopher John Searle) (internal citations omitted).

(24.) Nancy Wolff & Jing Shi, Trauma In Incarcerated Persons, in HANDBOOK OF CORRECTIONAL MENTAL HEALTH 283 (Charles Scott, ed., American Psychiatric Publishing, 2d ed. 2010).

(25.) Dolovich, supra note 6, at 17.

(26.) For a thoughtful discussion of the relationship of these and other variables to the sexual violence that occurs in a different (but not entirely dissimilar) context, see generally Eileen Zurbriggen, Rape, War, and the Socialization of Masculinity: Why Our Refusal to Give Up War Ensures That Rape Cannot Be Eradicated, 34 PSYCHOL. OF WOMEN Q. 538 (2010).

(27.) GERALD GAES & ANDREW GOLDBERG, NAT'L INST. OF JUSTICE, PRISON RAPE: A CRITICAL REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE, at T. 1, 55-58 (2004). Available at Gaes and Goldberg noted that the "findings section" of the Prison Rape Elimination Act "suggests that 13 percent of inmates in the United States have been sexually assaulted" and also acknowledged that the authors of the bill characterized that as a "conservative estimate." ld. at 1. Their own meta analysis suggested that "the lifetime prevalence rate may be much lower...." Id. at 53.

(28.) Because of the special stigma that is attached to this kind of victimization and the generic rule that exists among inmates against reporting rule violations to correctional staff, it is safe to assume that official estimates are likely to understate the scope of the problem.

(29.) Tess M. Neal & Carl B. Clements, Prison Rape and Psychological Sequelae: A Call for Research, 16 PSYCHOL. PUB. POL'Y, & L. 284, 285 (2010).

(30.) Todd D. Minton, JAIL INMATES AT MIDYEAR 2009--STATISTICAL TABLES 12 T.9 (2010), available at

(31.) Dolovich, supra note 6, at 19 nn.100-31.


(33.) See, e.g., Rutherford v. Pitchess, 457 E Supp. 104 (C.D. Cal. 1978). The case remains active and the ACLU monitors jail conditions pursuant to an agreement that was reached between the parties to the lawsuit.

(34.) Mary Tiedeman & Daniel Ballon, ACLU NATIONAL PRISON PROJECT, ANNUAL REPORT ON CONDITONS INSIDE THE LOS ANGELES COUNTY JAIL, 2008-2009 1 (2010), available at pdf. The Report specifically underscored the "shocking results of violence that [ACLU] monitors observed at Men's Central Jail from broken ribs and black eyes to severe head wounds that need to be stapled together...." Id.

(35.) Tiedeman & Ballon, supra note 35, at 1.

(36.) See Coleman v. Schwarzenegger, No. $90-0520, No. C01-1351, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67943, at *364, *394-95 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 4, 2009).

(37.) Dolovich, supra note 6, at 19 n.98.

(38.) Tiedeman & Ballon, supra note 35, at 10.

(39.) Id. at 13.

(40.) Id. at 20.

(41.) See R.W. Connell & James W. Messerschmidt, Hegemonic Masculinity: Rethinking the Concept, 19 GENDER & SOC'Y 829, 849 (2005).

(42.) David Karp, Unlocking Men, Unmasking Masculinities: Doing Men's Work in Prison, 18 J. MEN'S STUDIES 63, 65 (2010).

(43.) R.W. Connell, On Hegemonic Masculinity and Violence: Response to Jefferson and Hall, 6 THEORETICAL CRIMINOLOGY 89, 95 (2002).

(44.) Dolovich, supra note 6, at 14.

(45.) Id. at 16.

(46.) Based on 2009 data, there were nearly twice as many men of Color (1,283,000) as Whites (693,800) incarcerated in the nation's prisons and jails. Heather C. West, PRISON INMATES AT MIDYEAR 2009--STATISTICAL TABLES 19 T. 16 (2010), available at

(47.) See, e.g., O. A. Barbarin, Halting African American Boys' Progression From Pre-K to Prison: What Families, Schools, and Communities Can Do! 80 AM. J. ORTHOPSYCHIATRY 81 (2010); Christine A. Christie,

Kristine Jolivette, & C. Michael Nelson, Breaking the School to Prison Pipeline: Identifying School Risk and Protective Factors for Youth Delinquency, 13 EXCEPTIONALITY 60 (2005). Paul J. Hirschfield, Preparing for Prison ? The Criminalization of School Discipline in the USA, 12 THEORETICAL CRIMINOLOGY 79 (2008); David M. Osher et al., Deconstructing the Pipeline: Using Efficacy, Effectiveness, and Cost-Benefit Data to Reduce Minority Youth Incarceration, 99 NEW DIRECTIONS FOR YOUTH DEVELOPMENT 91 (2003); Joanna Wald & Daniel J. Losen, Defining and Redirecting a School-to-Prison Pipeline, 99 NEW DIRECTIONS IN YOUTH DEVELOPMENT 9 (2003).

(48.) See, e.g., Michael J. Leiber, Disproportionate Minority, Confinement of Youth: An Analysis of State and Federal Efforts to Address the Issue, 48 CRIME & DELINQUENCY 3, 11-14, app. D (2002) (noting that in forty-six studies that were conducted in forty different states, "race effects," defined as "the presence of a statistically significant race relationship with a case outcome that remains once controls for legal factors have been considered" were found in thirty two of them). See also Judith A. Cox & James Bell, Addressing Disproportionate Representation of Youth of Color in the Juvenile Justice System, 3 J. CENTER FOR FAMILIES, CHILD. & CTS. 31, 31 (200l); Donna Hamparian & Michael Leiber, Disproportionate Confinement of Minority Juveniles in SECURE FACILITIES: 1996 NATIONAL REPORT (Champaign, IL: Community Research Associates 1997); Ashley Nellis & Brad Richardson, Getting Beyond Failure: Promising Approaches for Reducing DMC, 8 YOUTH VIOLENCE AND JUVENILE JUSTICE 266 (2010).

(49.) See, e.g., Hyunzee Jung, Solveig Spjeldnes & Hide Yamatani, Recidivism and Survival Time: Racial Disparity Among Jail Ex-Inmates, 34 SOCIAL WORK RESEARCH 181 (2010). See also PATRICK A. LANGAN & DAVID J. LEVIN, BUREAU OF JUSTICE STATISTICS, U.S. DEP'T OF JUSTICE, PUB. NO. NCJ-193427, SPECIAL REPORT: RECIDIVISM OF PRISONERS RELEASED IN 1994, at 2 (2002), available at (analyzing data from fifteen states and finding that the median number of prior arrests for inmates was 6, and 43% of prisoners had served a prior term of incarceration); Daniel P. Meats et al., Social Ecology and Recidivism: Implications for Prisoner Reentry, 46 CRIMINOLOGY 301, (2008) (arguing that the social ecology of areas to which ex-prisoners return influences recidivism rates among different populations).

(50.) Terry A. Kupers, The Role of Misogyny and Homophobia in Prison Sexual Abuse, 18 UCLA WOMEN' S L.J. 107, 112 (2010).

(51.) Id. at 114.


(53.) Dolovich, supra note 6, at 33.

(54.) Id. at 50 n.254.

(55.) Prisoners who are concerned that they have something to prove about who they "are"--for example, prisoners who have allegations about a possible sex crime or other particularly odious offense in their background and are therefore especially suspect--must take decisive steps to dispel these questions (if they can). Similarly, a prisoner who appears to have received favorable treatment from prison officials (which would raise questions about what he had done in exchange) or one who was once housed in a questionable unit where known homosexuals, "snitches," or "soft" prisoners were kept (which would suggest his own vulnerabilities or checkered past) must address these questionable facts in ways that resolve all doubts about whether he has something to hide. It is not uncommon to see such prisoners clinging to exonerating "paperwork"--if it exists--and readily producing it to all concerned in order to quash these kinds of dangerous rumors.

(56.) Dolovich, supra note 6, at 17 n.88.

(57.) Dolovich, supra note 6, at 43.

(58.) See id.

(59.) See also id. at 30-41, 89 (describing the central role of Senior Deputy Randy Bell and Deputy Bart Lanni in the development and maintenance of the K6G unit).

(60.) Id. at 33, n.176.

(61.) Id. at 49.

(62.) Id. at 34.

(63.) See id. at 41-42.

(64.) Id. at 37, n.188.

(65.) See, e.g., Todd R. Clear, Dina R. Rose, & Judith A. Ryder, Incarceration and the Community: The Problem of Removing and Returning Offenders, 47 CRIME & DELINQUENCY 335 (2001) (analyzing the problems and issues resulting from the removal and return of offenders to communities with high rates of incarceration).

(66.) Although I have interviewed many victims of these assaults, and many more witnesses (who ostensibly watched or were aware of what "other prisoners" did), only a comparative few were willing to admit to having done these things themselves.

(67.) See, e.g., Neal & Clements, supra note 29.

(68.) See Haney, supra note 8, at 126-128.

(69.) Dolovich, supra note 6, at 19, n.98 (emphasis added).

(70.) Id.

(71.) See id. at 78.

Craig Haney, Professor of Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz. [c] 2011, Craig Haney.
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