One of the top main differences between movie depictions of the incarceration system and real life is that the prison guards in movies are the violent ones that the prisoners are fearful of. In real life situations, inside heavily crowded prisons, it is not only the prisoners who are the victims of violence, but also the prison guards. Some of the inmates have a plot to kill prison guards, by studying the time they are weak or are not watching. The vulnerability of prison guards is often not covered in movies.
Movies only focus on a prisoner who makes a significant change in his life. These movies are served to inspire and to hide the dark secrets of prison. Most prisons have organized groups or gangs, just like fraternities outside the prison. Violence between two inmates can start from a trivial issue, like not sharing what an inmate possesses. The violence can spread – what started just between the two inmates can make others violently attack other inmates, as well.
The top main differences between movie depictions of the incarceration system and real life include the access of media to prisons. Many movies do not focus on the prisoner’s access to the communications to the outside. Prisoners have a right to communicate with their loved ones through a communication system that is reliable in delivering the message on time. The prison should not block any relevant people who can help with the prisoner’s case.
Since there is lack of media coverage in prisons, the public and, to an extent, the authorities do not know if the prison system is dangerous or not. People working for the media are allowed to enter the prison to conduct interviews, but their tools, such as cameras or any recording device, are not allowed in the premises. The result is that the media are not able to deliver the truth behind bars, or show that the existing system is not effective in maintaining safety and health of inmates.
People always expect the truth to come with proof, but since there is no video coverage of the interviews or of prison environments, it’s always hard to convince them when it comes to the reality in prison.
Some detention centers even don’t even give guards radio access. Radios are created for the guards’ safety, and the reality exists that they are not provided with the means to communicate any danger in the prison.
One of the top main differences between movie depictions of the incarceration system and real life is that some prisons are not life-changing. Some of the prisons across the globe are designed as an excuse to kill.
What movies can depict well, but not accurately, is that the prison can be a place for ingenuity. Even a person who has not gone to college can discover what his abilities are inside the cell. He can make a deadly weapon, a sharp object, out of piles of magazine or paper. A prison, unlike the mental institution, is not devoid of materials that can potentially harm one’s self or the others.
One of the many top main differences between movie depictions of the incarceration system and real life concerns sanitation, food and health. The sufferings of those prisoners with hypertension or cardiovascular diseases, hyperglycemia or hypercholesterolemia are not depicted in movies. Those who are obese, and at the same time, diabetic needs consistent timing of insulin injections. Hypertensive inmates need to stay in a well-ventilated room. Those who are in death rows deserve to stay in a cool room, but it is not the case in some prisons.
Overcrowding can also be a problem, since infectious diseases can spread easily there. Correctional facilities are populated mainly with drug offenders and habitual criminals. They may have been exposed to hepatitis C due to sharing of needles in drug administration prior to incarceration. Top main differences between movie depictions of the incarceration system and real life include the fact that in real life, HIV and AIDS are more prevalent in prisons than in the general population. Almost all items in prison are shared, and there is even an unintentional sharing of body fluids.
Prison rape is not shown much in the movies because it is a compelling issue. The lack of access to protection and prison overcrowding are its causes. As mentioned before, prisons have become a license for the incarcerated to do immoral and illegal things.
Food handling and sanitation is not seen in movies and in the news, despite the fact that there are reported maggot infestations in foods. The authorities neglect the importance of conducting a kitchen inspection. Prison food can cause food poisoning, which manifests in diarrhea and vomiting. Malnutrition is not an uncommon issue since the prisoners are underfed. Some of them complain that in order to prevent fighting over food, they need to have pocket money to buy snacks from a jail store.
Those whose families do not wish to visit them are perhaps the unfortunate ones. Not only do they not receive their medical needs and moral support, but they are deprived of the budget they need to survive in the cell. Those who have been drug abusers who have not yet undergone rehabilitation may find it hard to combat drug withdrawal.
It would have been better if all the prisons across the states have a medical facility or affiliated facilities, specialized units, to meet a variety of needs of different people in the prison.
Movies do not depict the overall condition of prisons, and the public remains ignorant of the systems in these places. People do not know who they should empathize with.
Only the testimonials of the incarcerated and the observation of the outsiders or inspectors can contribute to the research and studies done for the improvement of detention facilities, especially those at the federal level or the large ones. For now, as long as the technology, facilities, and the overall system do not improve, the prisoners will have to find a support system outside that could help them meet their needs.