2019, Volume 105, Issue 4

Hazing Abuses in U.S. Prisons

Hank Nuwer1
1-, -

Author for correspondence: Hank Nuwer; -, -; email: -

Hank Nuwer: -

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Summary (original language)

A major obstacle to adult socialization of the prison population in the United States is the toxic practice of hazing. These so-called initiations take multiple common forms. First, there is the practice of the present prison population greeting the new prisoners with verbal and physical abuse to intimidate them and serve as a sort-of cheap entertainment for the veterans. The practice becomes nearly impossible to root out since the newcomers soon become the veterans and repeat the hazing process when new prisoners, referred to pejoratively as “fresh meat”, are processed. The most problematic hazing in prison is perhaps the vicious and calculated initiations perpetrated by members of gangs. They require newcomers aspiring to become gang members to withstand beatings and other forms of physical abuse to show their willingness to pass an initiation as a “test of the heart”. This means the prospective gang member is willing to endure the worst forms of pain in order to show willingness to join. Those judged unworthy or who whine can become sexual slaves. Perhaps even more disturbing are increasing numbers of reports from prisons in Maine and other states that demonstrate how initiations have become a sadistic practice among corrections officers in prison. Women guards, in particular, are targeted by male guards with misanthropic intentions. The practice often puts guards in harm’s way and leads to a disturbing number of new guards quitting the occupation. Only recently has scholarship turned its attention to prison hazing in an attempt to reform the culture.

Key words

Hazing, Initiation, Adult Socialization, Prisoner Bonding, Gang Violence, Occupational Hazing, Znęcanie się , inicjacja, socjalizacja osób dorosłych, tworzenie więzi wśród osadzonych, wojny gangów, znęcanie się nad współpracownikami