The Fantasy Of Prison Life VS. Reality
- Richi Fingerz
Is prison life accurately depicted on television and in films? Richi has his say on the lasting impact of the fictional portrayals of an inmates life
“Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it!” This saying goes for so many things in life, but as I am sat here watching Beyond Scared Straight, which is a documentary that follows a group of juvenile delinquents and their three-hour session with actual convicts, I’m thinking this is one experience I’m gonna knock because I never want to try it.
But I do wonder if the images shown on television and in films, with prison settings, make people believe that prison is not as tough as fictional portrayals make it out to be.
If I wasn’t clued up on the reality of prison after having watched some real life documentaries like America’s Hardest Prison, which is a series that looks into the world of inmates in some of the USA’s toughest jails, I would say prison was a fantasy place where you go for a few years, bulk up and make new friends. Then, on your release date, family and friends come to celebrate your return. The truth of the matter is that prison is far from a fantasy and it’s a place you do not want to end up.
Prisons are designed to punish, protect and rehabilitate. Punish those who choose to commit crimes, protect society from those criminals but rehabilitate them so they’re ready to go back into society. The truth is, in my opinion, prison for the most part doesn’t work. Not everyone who goes to prison comes out rehabilitated. Not every school attendee leaves with an education. There is a clear issue with how the system is run.
So what’s the answer? Should young people, be scared straight into good behaviour like the show suggests? Even if you tried to figure it out, I don’t think you could. Everyday young people are being polluted with images of a violent nature more than ever, from the big screens to computer games. Because their young minds are impressionable, I believe that they find it difficult nowadays to decipher between reality and fantasy, so when they take part in a fantasy crime they believe they will end up in their fantasy prison.
For some people prison is beneficial. They do their time and come out rehabilitated, ready for society and willing to live by the law. For others it is a totally different story, ending up being involved with prison life and getting even deeper than before. So why can some people come out of prison a changed person and some not? That’s a question for the government to answer.
For me prison would be effective, but not in the way you would have thought. I’d use my time to understand myself and with more free hours in the day, I’d fit in reading and gaining more knowledge I can put into practice in the outside world. But this is prison, not alone time in the reading corner, so even my fantasy would be checked with a reality dose. So, I choose to live by my own morals, which respect laws within our society.
I don’t know what would be a deterrent from keeping young people from going to prison. Taking them to a prison and letting them experience first hand what prison is like would be a great start for some young people. Prison is not even the problem; it’s the crimes the young people commit that are, and maybe by understanding the reasons behind them we can start to get to the heart of the real issues in our society.