Despite the ratification of the Eighth Amendment in 1791, which bans the use of cruel and unusual punishment, reports of excessive violence perpetrated by correctional officers against inmates have been documented since the inception of the United States penal system.
Read the article, and write a two-page summary of the article explaining violence, punishment, and evil behaviors in relation to the theories covered in this unit.
Note: Discuss the article using the scientific theories covered in this unit. Please integrate your personal opinion on this topic as well.
Your response should include an introduction, supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion. You are required to use your textbook and the article as source materials for your response. You may use additional sources as well. All sources used, including the textbook and article, must be referenced. Paraphrased and quoted material must have citations as well.
Gross, B. (2008). Prison violence: Does brutality come with the badge? Forensic Examiner, 17(4), 21-27. Retrieved from ProQuest Criminal Justice database. (Document ID: 1603605261).
Despite the ratification of the Eighth Amendment in 1791, which bans the use of cruel and unusual punishment, reports of excessive violence perpetrated by correctional officers against inmates have been documented since the inception of the United States penal system. These complaints come not only from inmates, but also from federal authorities who acknowledge the problem is widespread. (Gibbons & Katzenbach, 2006)
According to the Commission on Safety and Abuse in Prisons, in 2005 there were 16,000 allegations of prison staff misconduct (including sexual and physical assault as well as the introduction of contraband) brought to the Office of the Inspector General alone (Fine, 2005). To date, there is no system for collecting data on a national level regarding excessive, non-lethal violence used by prison staff against inmates. Despite this, a simple Internet search regularly returns numerous links to articles regarding violence in state and federal prisons across the nation.
Excessive violence by guards exists and persists not only in state prisons, but in county jails as well. For over 25 years the Cook County jail in Illinois (one of the largest jails in the U.S.) has been under judicial review as a result of extreme and unresolved overcrowding (Becker, 2008). In 2004, a special grand jury was convened to address the mass beating of inmates that took place in 1999. Despite this, the use of excessive violence by correctional officers against inmates has continued to the present. Inmates have been choked, kicked, punched, and hit with objects, by single or multiple guards, for offenses that range from an act of violence against staff, to verbal insults towards staff, to failure to comply with instructions.
These punishments have resulted in inmates suffering everything from black eyes, contusions, lacerations, lost teeth, fractured noses and ribs, broken arms and jaws, as well as head trauma. For example, in 2007, an inmate was handcuffed and beaten by a group of guards in a doming room for having exposed himself to a female officer. The inmate, who was left with severe head injuries, had a history of mental illness. In July 2008, the U.S. Attorneys office in Chicago and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice issued a 98-page report to the Cook County Sheriff and Cook County Board President outlining the atrocities.
The Study of Violence
History is replete with incidents of seemingly decent people committing horrendous acts of violence in what they believe to be the pursuit or defense of justice and right. After World War II and the horrors of the Nazi Concentration Camps, several attempts to study such extreme and evil behavior were undertaken. While moral and ethical constraints make empirical research on the etiology of such violence scarce, a few notable studies do exist.