Pub. date: 2005 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952514 | Print ISBN: 9780761927310 | Online ISBN: 9781412952514| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Racial Conflict Among Prisoners
Racial conflict among prisoners is an enduring feature of the U.S. prison system, although the form and substance of race relations vary according to historical period, region, facility type, and inmate characteristics. Additionally, race relations differ according to gender. Women's prisons have historically experienced less racial violence and fewer overt racial conflicts than have facilities housing men. Nonetheless, race is a major organizing principle of the relationships and social networks within both men's and women's prisons. Scholars have concluded that racial conflict is neither the “natural” outcome of persons of different races and ethnicities living together, nor is it an intrinsic feature of the inmate social order. Instead, racial conflict among prisoners results from the confluence of external social, political, and economic events and the unique interpersonal and organizational dynamics that characterize prison life. Historical studies suggest that penal policy in the South emerged in response to changes in the ...