Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Prison and Amenities

If an individual is arrested, charged, and convicted of a crime, they should be required to do the time?  They are in prison for violating the law and must be punished.  However, some of these people come from a standard of living that is far below the standard in which they will live while in prison.  Still, some people are born into a situation where they are not privileged to the opportunities that others might have and their only future path is to crime, jail, or death.  

In Arizona, Sheriff Arpia’s philosophy is to house prisoners in tents where conditions are 110 degrees, dress them in pink underwear, and offer them a main course of bologna on dry bread (Banks, 2013).  Of course this approach is unethical because the conditions are too harsh.  The simple act of removing them from society and in placing them in confinement is enough and will serve as punishment.

The NO Frills Prison Act of 1996 removed all the amenities prisoners are permitted to include coffee pots, televisions and electronic instruments (Lenz 2002).  This was done to make prison terms a punishment and not a time out from society.  Yet, some prisons over look the NO Frills Prison Act and state in their defense that television time is a reward and an incentive to remain out of trouble in prison.  In short, if the inmates are not provided some incentive to remain within the rules, they will become too unruly to deal with (Finn, 1996).

In the Navy, if a Sailor on a ship commits a crime, they may be awarded a punishment of Bread and Water.  If a Sailor commits an infraction or crime against the Uniform Code of Military Justice, they are taken before the Commanding Officer (CO) of the Ship.  If the CO deems the crime severe enough, and the Sailor is in the pay grade of E-3 or below, the CO may award the punishment of up to 3 days of bread and water in the Brig.  Once the prisoner enters the outside of the Brig, indoctrination is held to explain the rules and regulations of their conduct while incarcerated.  Indoctrination generally begins at midnight and ends when the prisoner has demonstrated they can adhere to all rules and regulations required of them. The timeframe is set by the prisoner.  When prisoners wish to ask questions or respond to the staff members they must acknowledge them by their pay grade at the beginning and again at the end of their sentence.  Their hands must be kept at their sides at all times and they may only move about when given permission to do so.  While in their cell they will stand at all times.  They are not permitted to lean on walls or gates or sit on or touch their beds until lights out.  They are incarcerated by themselves and only interact with the staff for the duration of their sentence.  They must make their beds and are subject to inspections.  No belts or shoe laces are allowed while incarcerated.  Their meals are brought to them three times a day and they may eat as much bread and drink as much water as they want (SECNAV, 2006).   

The purpose of bread and water is to shock prisoners by removing them from the work space and confining them by themselves, depriving them of the liberty of freedom of movement.  Prisoners are never authorized the use of vending machines, movies, electronic devices, books, or anything else that would be described as an amenity.
I would suggest that the federal government apply this punishment to their prisoners.  I would recommend the removal of bread and water, but the method of incarceration should remain.  It is ethical because it removes the extreme conditions that prisoners in Arizona experience.  Jump suits are the uniform of the day.   Prisoners are incarcerated as punishment and stand alone in their cells to contemplate the consequences of their actions.



Banks, C. (2013). Criminal Justice Ethics: Theory and Practice (3d ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA:
            SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-1-4129-9545-0
Finn, P. (1996). “No-Frills Prisons and Jails: A Movement in Flux. ”Federal Probation 60:      
Lenz, N. (2002). “Luxuries’ in Prison: The Relationship Between Amenity Funding and Pubkic
            Support.” Crime & Delinquency 48 (4): 499-525 
Secretary of the Navy (2006).  Department of the Navy Correction Manual 1640.9C Retrieved