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Uploaded on on Sep 5, 2021


A prisoner (also known as an inmate or detainee) is someone who has their liberty taken away from them against their will. Confinement, captivity, or forced restraint are all options. Serving a jail sentence in prison is referred to as “serving a prison sentence in prison.” Pretrial defendants no longer fall under this category.

The oldest proof of the prisoner’s presence comes from prehistoric tombs in Lower Egypt dating back to 8,000 BC. This evidence implies that a San-like tribe was enslaved by Libyans.

The publication of two key texts, Donald Clemmer’s The Prison Community, first published in 1940 and republished in 1958, and Gresham Sykes’ classic study The Society of Captives, both published in 1958, is widely credited with the founding of ethnographic prison sociology as a discipline, from which most of the meaningful knowledge of prison life and culture stems. Clemmer’s text, which was based on a three-year study of 2,400 inmates at the Menard Branch of the Illinois State Penitentiary, where he worked as a clinical sociologist, promoted the idea of an inmate culture and society with values and norms that were diametrically opposed to both the prison authorities and the wider society.

Clemmer saw these principles, which were formalized as the “inmate code,” as providing behavioral precepts that united convicts while fomenting animosity toward prison authorities and the institution as a whole. He called the process of convicts acquiring these beliefs and behavioral norms as they acclimated to prison life “privatization,” which he defined as “taking on, to a greater or lesser extent, the folkways, mores, traditions, and general culture of the penitentiary.” While Clemmer claimed that all prisoners went through some form of privatization, he also claimed that it was not a uniform process and that factors such as how involved a prisoner was in primary group relations in prison and how much he identified with the outside world all had a significant impact.


Identification with primary groups in prison, the use of prison slang and argot, the adoption of specific rituals, and hostility to prison authority in contrast to inmate solidarity were claimed by Clemmer to create individuals who were acculturated into a criminal and deviant way of life that stymied all attempts to reform.

In contrast to these beliefs, numerous European sociologists have demonstrated that convicts are often divided, and their ties to society are often stronger than those formed in jail, notably through the impact of employment on time perception.

The convict code was defined as a collection of unspoken behavioral rules that had a widespread influence on prisoner behavior. Part of an inmate’s identity as a prisoner was established by his or her ability to follow the rituals required by the code. The convict code was a set of values and behavioral guidelines that referred to inmates’ behavior in antagonizing staff members, mutual solidarity among inmates, non-disclosure of prisoner activities to prison authorities, and resistance to rehabilitation programs as a set of values and behavioral guidelines.

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