Most people who attend college talk about all the great experiences that they will have, have had, shouldn’t have and some other haves or haves not experiences. Some students talk about the freedoms they will have, especially when they live on or near campus in a ‘home away from home’ situation. Think about those freedoms. Now think about having those freedoms taken away. What does that mean? It means that people will realize how prison is a lot like college. After spending some time at Alcatraz Penitentiary, in San Francisco, Calf. prison life seemed similar to college life.
In prison, other inmates will ask “what are you in for?” where as in college, students will ask, “what is your major?” Depending on a student’s major or pace in school will affect how long they go to school for. If one is majoring in nursing or other health positions, they may have to attend school for six years or so. Convicts will ask each other how long they have served for or how much longer they will serve. Students will ask each other how long they have been in college by asking what year they are.
Some even ask the simple question that conmen ask, “How much longer do you have?” The years are basically sentences of time. They could graduate before that by taking as many classes as possible in a semester or they could graduate later than that. This is similar to prison sentences; some convicts serve the whole sentence, while others get out early for ‘good behavior.’ Just like how going to grad school after graduating college is like going to an assigned parole officer after being released.
It always seems that people have a lot of time whether they are in prison or in college. Time goes by slowly and then quickly. Some inmates are scared to be paroled and face society again, even though they are glad to be released. While some college students are glad to be released and graduating school, many have the same fears of facing society and the real world to get a real job in.
Students think that Larry’s, the diner, and the Ram head food court are freedoms of what we eat. Just as in prison, they are given x amount of meals for the week. The same food is served each day, it is not like the food menus in pre college schools that vary with each day. The real reason why students stopped using trays is because someone realized how much that was like a prison life, carrying food on trays.
“Safety checks” for room inspections are much like “shakedowns” in prison cells.
The idea of a president or dean at colleges did not originate from having principals in schools from k – 12, it came from having a warden in penitentiaries.
Solitary Confinement, or more commonly known as isolation, can be found in a cellblock of penitentiaries and on campus. This all depends on what type of student one is. Students may feel isolated in their bedrooms by spending time alone doing schoolwork or by not being involved on campus.
Another case of isolation would be the student that spends their day and night in the library until they get all their work done. The other type of isolation is anyone finding themselves in the ‘drunk tank’ in a police station to sober up.
The fitness centers on campus are occupied just as much as the equipment is in the courtyards of a penitentiary. A prisoner once said how they work out in their cell or in the courtyard and never use the equipment provided. The reason for this was to appear to not have strength, trying to deceive others of their abilities. There are plenty of students who run around the campus grounds, some of them do not go to the fitness centers. Again, they are hiding their fitness from others that use the equipment. The same can be said about studying in private in one’s bedroom as oppose to going to the library. These students claim that they don’t study, but do well anyway.
When attending college one of the most common sayings is that students will learn more outside of the classroom. This could mean that students learn from other students dealing with their majors. This could also mean learning by doing, such as becoming a Resident Assistant (RA) in a residence hall for example, and learning about leadership.
For convicts, the same can be said about going to prison and learning a lot outside of society and in the inside of the prison walls so to speak. Prisoners specialize in crimes and while they have time in prison, they are able to share trade secrets and inform others of how to do or how to attempt other crimes. For example a convict of intent to sell illegal substances can tell an inmate how to push and sell drugs. Say this other inmate is a robber, they could inform the drug dealer how to break in to buildings and where to look for values.
Convicts are referred to by their cell number or by the number on their prison wear clothes. In class, don’t be surprised the professor doesn’t know one’s name by now. Most students are called on by pointing or acknowledging them by saying ‘you.’
In big classes, students are referred as the color of their t-shirt, which cannot be done in a prison where inmates all wear the same uniform. In other classes, small or large, the teacher may know the student’s names. These teachers that know who students are by name are the few correctional filitators that know prisoner’s names.
Outside of the classroom, students may be referred to by their student ID number. Names don’t matter when one is just a number in a file. Other than numbers, it seems like everyone’s name is ‘you.’
Prisons commonly have gangs or informal groups of convicts that associate with each other and some have a higher status than others. Colleges commonly have sororities and fraternities. In both cases people have to pay some sort of price to be initiated. This is the same for clubs and organizations on campus. Even the sports team members, they have tryouts, practices and games. Athletes can out run, out swim, out jump, and out do most other non-athletes.
“‘The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by observing its prisoners.’ Dostevsky said that after doin’ a little time (in prison).” – Quoted from Con Air (2007).
Disclaimer: This is written as a satire and does not necessarily mean this is my true outlook or views.
Ginger Rae Dunbar is two years into her sentence. She can be found in solitary confinement. Do not attempt communication – she has already used her one phone call.
* April Fools!