Prison Actors

  • Rok HacinEmail author
  • Gorazd Meško
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Criminology book series (BRIEFSCRIMINOL)


Prison is a complex organizational environment featuring numerous actors. In general, two highly distinctive groups of prison actors are present in modern prisons: prisoners and prison workers. The first group is represented, in most countries, by prisoners, remand prisoners, prisoners sentenced for a misdemeanor, prisonerssentenced to substitute prison, and juvenile prisoners. Prisoners who represent the largest group are in the role of subordinates, which prevents them from influencing the decision-making process in prison. Simultaneously, they present an audience that evaluates the eligibility of prison workers’ authority and legitimacy of their position in the prison setting. The second group comprises the management (prison facility directors and heads of departments), specialized workers (social pedagogues, pedagogues, social workers, psychologists, sociologists, labor instructors, and health and medical technicians), and prison officers (heads of security and prison officers). They represent the authority in prison, and hold a position of power-holder that depends on the prisoners’ recognition of legitimacy and perception of their legitimacy.


Prisoners Subordinates Audience Prison workers Power-holder 


  1. Adams, K. (1992). Adjusting to prison life. Crime and Justice, 16, 275–359.Google Scholar
  2. Aebi, M. F., Burkhardt, C., Hacin, R., & Tiago, M. M. (2016). A comparative perspective of imprisonment trends in Slovenia and Europe from 2005 to 2014. Revija za kriminalistiko in kriminologijo, 67(4), 430–442.Google Scholar
  3. Bereswill, M. (2001). Die schmerzen des freiheitsentzugs: Gefängniserfahrungen un überkebebsstrategien männnlicher jugendlicher und heranwachsender in strafhaft. In M. Bereswill & W. Grewe (Eds.), Forsungsthema strafvollzug (pp. 254–285). Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  4. Boyle, J. (1984). The pain of confinement. London: Pan Books.Google Scholar
  5. Bukstel, L. H., & Kilmann, P. R. (1980). Psychological effects of imprisonment on confined individuals. Psychological Bulletin, 88(2), 469–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Clemmer, D. (1940). The prison community. Boston, MA: The Christopher Publishing House.Google Scholar
  7. Cohen, S., & Taylor, L. (1972). Psychological survival. Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  8. Crawley, E. M. (2004). Emotion and performance. Punishment & Society, 6(4), 411–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Goffman, E. (1974). Frame analysis. Lebanon, NH: Northeastern University Press.Google Scholar
  10. Hacin, R., & Meško, G. (2018). Prisoners’ perception of legitimacy of the prison staff: A qualitative study in Slovene prisons. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 62(13), 4332–4350.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Hepburn, J. R. (1985). The exercise of power in coercive organisations: A study of prison guards. Criminology, 23(1), 145–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Irwin, J., & Cressey, D. R. (1962). Thieves, convicts and the inmate culture. Social Problems, 10(2), 142–155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Jackson, J., Tyler, T. R., Bradford, B., Taylor, D., & Shiner, M. (2010). Legitimacy and procedural justice in prisons. Prison Service Journal, 191, 4–10.Google Scholar
  14. Jacobs, J. (1977). Stateville: The penitentiary in modern society. Chicago, IL: Chicago University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Liebling, A., & Price, D. (1999). An exploration of staff–prisoners relationships at HMP Whitemoor (Prison service research report, no. 6). London: Home Office.Google Scholar
  16. Liebling, A., & Price, D. (2001). The prison officer. Cambridge: Waterside.Google Scholar
  17. Meško, G., Tankebe, J., Čuvan, B., & Šifrer, J. (2014). Samozaznava legitimnosti policistov in pravosodnih policistov v Sloveniji: Perspektive postopkovne pravičnosti nadrejenih, odnosov s sodelavci in zaznane legitimnosti policije v javnosti. Revija za kriminalistiko in kriminologijo, 65(3), 221–231.Google Scholar
  18. Meyer, A. (2001). Biographisch–narratives erzählen jugendlicher gewalttäter im vollzug. In M. Bereswill & W. Grewe (Eds.), Forshungsthema strafvollzug (pp. 147–175). Baden-Baden: Nomos.Google Scholar
  19. Prevolšek, D., Lipec, J., & Hacin, R. (2018). Strokovna usposobljenost in osebnostne značilnosti strokovnih delavcev v slovenskih zaporih. Varstvoslovje, 20(1), 45–64.Google Scholar
  20. Reisig, M. D. (2001). The champion, contender and challenger: Top ranked books in prison studies. The Prison Journal, 81(3), 389–407.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Roebuck, J. (1963). A critique of thieves, convicts, and the inmate culture. Social Problems, 11(2), 193–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Serge, V. (1977). Men in prison. London: Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative.Google Scholar
  23. Sykes, G. M. (1958). The society of captives. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Sykes, G. M. (1971). The society of captives: A study of a maximum security prison. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Tait, S. (2011). A typology of prison officer approaches to care. European Journal of Criminology, 8(6), 440–454.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Tyler, T. R., & Huo, Y. J. (2002). Trust in the law: Encouraging public cooperation with the police and courts. New York, NY: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  27. Uprava Republike Slovenije za izvrševanje kazenskih sankcij [URSIKS]. (2018). Letno poročilo 2017. Ljubljana: Uprava Republike Slovenije za izvrševanje kazenskih sankcij.Google Scholar
  28. Vodopivec, K., Bergant, M., Kobal, M., Mlinarič, F., Skaberne, B., & Skalar, V. (1974). Eksperiment u Logatcu: pokušaj uvođenja novih koncepcija u vaspitni zavod (Priručnik 6). Beograd: Savez društava defektologa Jugoslavije.Google Scholar
  29. Weinrath, M. (2016). Behind the walls: Inmates and correctional officers on the state of Canadian prisons. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Criminal Justice and SecurityUniversity of MariborMariborSlovenia

Personalised recommendations