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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Prison vs School: How different are they?

I’ve never been to prison or jail, though I have been arrested. I love shows like Oz, Orange is the new black; used to watch Prison Break as a kid, and have seen prison movies such as The Shawshank Redemption. Clearly prison is horrible and a place no one wants to go to. But it has its perks; you get three meals a day, TV time, conjugal visits, gym time, a library – for some people it’s better than being on the outside. Some prisoners get ‘institutionalized’ where they get so used to being inside that they don’t know how to act when they get out, and often try to get themselves caught again to get back inside.

I would say there are a lot of similarities between prison and school. I didn't like school as a whole, and found it very 'trapping'.

Allocated times. You have to get up at a certain time, and go do things at certain times. You have ‘timetables.’ You can’t sleep in. You can’t go and do what you want when you want. You have to go and do work else you’ll get into trouble.

Uniforms. Just like in school, prisoners have to wear uniforms so they all look the same. This removes individuality and shows that they’re all part of the same system.

Stupid bitchy people. Most people in prison won’t be the nicest or smartest people to be around. Of course TV dramas and movies exaggerate for entertainment purposes. I’m sure there are normal looking nondescript people who end up inside. But on the whole, just like in school they’ll always be mean idiots who act like they own the place and spit on everyone else. Also nobody likes a know-it-all, least of all the ignorant minded.

Cliques. People stick in groups. Britain is less racially segregated than America, but in the US the prison cliques are clearly divided by racial background. Like Morello says to Piper when she gets in; they look after their ‘own.’

Guards. Obviously teachers are a lot nicer and more caring and not corrupt like correctional officers, but prison guards still need to enforce the rules and tell off the students – I mean inmates – for stepping out of line. There’s even the Warden, who oversees everything like the headteacher. (I LOVE the warden in Oz.)

Seedy shit. They’ll always be those kids that act out and get away with breaking the rules. Even though it’s not allowed, prisoners still manage to smuggle drugs in and out of the walls. In school there’s always those kids that deal to the others outside of school time, or hang around and come to lessons high.

Mental illnesses. Going to prison can cause depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, isolation, alienation, loneliness and aggression. Don’t know about you but that doesn’t sound that different from school.

A chance to better yourself. Malcolm X once said that if a person is smart, they can use prison to educate themselves. (Along those lines.) In school, if you keep your head down, ignore the mean people that make fun of you and look after yourself, you can do well and get a good education. In prison it’s the same. There are many books in prison. It can be a chance to reflect on yourself so that when you come out you’ll be ready for the world, and a better all-rounded member of society.

Sometimes it can be a laugh. It may not be all sunshine and roses, but no matter how bad a situation is they’ll always be fun or jokey parts of it. End of the day, if you have good friends, grit your teeth and focus on the fact that nothing lasts forever, you can get through it all.


  1. Interesting points you raise. I think you could add the military to this list as well. They're all heavily (and somewhat similarly) structured.

    1. Yeah I just got that LOL. Have you seen Full Metal Jacket? Classic example.

    2. Not fully yet. Heard it's pretty brutal. I've seen a ton of military/war films in general though.


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