“The overall aim was to make the prison a place for the constitution of a body of knowledge that would regulate the exercise of penitentiary practice. The prison has not only to know the decision of the judges and to apply it in terms of the established regulations: it has to extract unceasingly from the inmate a body of knowledge that will make it possible to transform the penal measure into a penitentiary operation; which will make of the penalty required by the offence a modification of the inmate that will be of use to society. The autonomy of the carceral régime and the knowledge that it creates make it possible to increase the utility of the penalty, which the code had made the very principle of its punitive philosophy: “The governor must not lose sight of a single inmate, because in whatever part of the prison the inmate is to be found, whether he is entering or leaving, or whether he is staying there, the governor must also justify the motives for his staying in a particular classification or for his movement from one to another. He is a veritable accountant. Each inmate is for him, in the sphere of individual education, a capital invested with penitentiary interest”. (Foucault, 13).
When reading this passage, many thoughts run through my mind, as I have known people close to me who have gone in and out of the system. I have heard stories of guards abusing their power, and some who use their power as good to try and correct the behavior of inmates. I feel as though inmates are used as “puppets” often. Someone I know who was in the system, has told me stories that I thought only happened in movies. One story was, while she was incarcerated, she was taunted and denied her daily medication, because the guards claimed that they should all be treated like murderers since they were all in jail. Another, was that they would make the inmates get on their knees and beg for toilet paper, for the purpose of enjoyment from the guards.
While there are “good” guards, there are also those who abuse their power. Why is this? I believe there is a view that the guard is the superior (in a way, they are), but they want to make sure that the prisoners believe this. The system has lost track of what they should be doing. Instead of, in a way, wasting the time the inmates are in jail, why not try to use this as a way to help them? As stated in the passage above, the inmate should be modified to be a use to society. For example, if a person is in jail for DUI’s, why not set up programs for alcohol abuse? If a prisoner is in for drugs, why not set them up for substance abuse? The list goes on. Why use the time as a way to degrade or worsen a person, rather than attempt to better them? Is the reason of this human greed or is it because we have been brainwashed into believing that degrading is the best form of technology to use on the inmates?