The issue of ‘stand your ground’ laws has come to the forefront in light of the Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin incident in Sanford, Florida. But what about if it happens in jail? When you get in a fight in jail, can you get in trouble… especially if the ‘other guy’ gets hurt and he was the one that started it?
The answer is both YES and NO.
Jails and prisons are filled with violent people. Fights and violence are a way of life for many of them. In addition, many of them have to make others believe they are tough and not afraid in order to avoid fights… in other words, peace through strength.
A large percentage of inmates have gang affiliations, owe or want to collect on drug, tobacco or gambling debts, many are going through withdrawl from drugs or alcohol addictions, most are dealing with personal or family issues they no longer have control over.
Therefore, fighting is common. Fights are violent and quick; they end within seconds of beginning because it’s impossible to hide them from authorities as ‘eyes’ are everywhere. Any noises or scuffles out of the ordinary can be heard and are immediately responded to. So when there’s a fight, it ends as soon as it begins and in most cases, both inmates are immediately thrown into segregation, it is investigated and the incident is over.
Even when one inmate gets seriously hurt, with no witnesses, who is to blame? And even if there is a guilty party, is anything done about it? Rarely.
So, if you think you are going to get into a fight or are about to be attacked when in jail, do as much damage to your opponent as you can in the 10-60 seconds you have, because your opponent is the last person you will be seeing for a while. And when you do get out of the SHU, your actions before and during the brief fight will determine how much respect others will give you from that point forward.
Jail and Prison is no different than life on the outside. The respect people treat you with mirrors the respect you deserve. It’s just that in jail or prison, you don’t have a lot of time to nurture that. Things move quickly.
Mark Miclette writes about inmates, jails, prisons, courts and the lives of people who live and work within the United States Criminal Justice System. His mission can be summed up in a single word; transparency.
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