Power Of Control In New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing, By Ted Conover

1385 Words 6 Pages
The power of control may often change an individual’s character. Within the prison system, lies a prison guard subculture in which, the power of control is stressed. Control and power are the means of successively managing a prison. Throughout the novel New Jack: Guarding Sing Sing, author Ted Conover (2001) writes of his experience as a Correctional Officer at Sing Sing maximum-security prison. Behind the prison doors, a different world takes flight.
As a correctional officer there are a number of rules, regulations, and unwritten rules one may learn. Higher ranked officers often place stress on new officers, referred to as new jacks, pertaining to the control over inmates (Conover, 2001). The stress or pressure from the ranked
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For instance, when Conover was releasing prisoners for recreation, another CO had told him to keep lock one of the inmates without giving a reason. Conover, was confronted with a moral issue- to listen to his fellow CO or to find out the reason and if there were none, then to let the inmate out of his cell for recreation. Due to the pressures of conformity, Conover ended up listening to the CO’s order and later on discovered that there was actually no reason to keep the inmate locked in his cell. In that moment, it was made aware that Conover had conformed further into the prison-guard subculture by following these unwritten rules to control and keep power over prisoners. In addition, the unwritten rule of standing by your CO brother’s side even if it may mean making an unethical …show more content…
After witnessing the blank expression, another question is raised about conformity and social control. It was as though a flat emotion affect had settled in to the prison guards, all had to appear in control and dominant. In a discussion, character Sergeant Wickersham, quoted “while everyone knows that prison can warp or distort the personalities of prisoners, few stop to consider how it can do the same to those who work inside” (Conover, 2001, p.107). Wickersham raises the question of social control theory- how an individual can enter the building one way and exit the building feeling opposite. When a person is new to a group, he/she may feel pressured to conform or prefer to identify himself/herself as a part of the group rather than a loner or an out cast. An individual’s personality, thought processes, and feelings may eventually conform and mirror the group. Especially in a high stress environment, such as a prison, it is important to have that sense of security, and to be part of a group helps to increase that

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