Analysis of Prejudice, Discrimination, and Aggression During Offender Rehabilitation

Analysis of Prejudice, Discrimination, and Aggression During Offender Rehabilitation

CPSS/315 Social Psychology



When looking at a person in prison it is easy to determine for ourselves that they are as a human being worth less than others who might have never committed a crime before. However, they are still no different than anyone else, they have made mistakes and are now serving a sentence for those mistakes. Should we, as a society, not see them as the same as everyone else around us? They are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters and friends the same as those that we hold closest to us.

Furthermore, if you look at an offender and you only see an offender, it is easy to gain a certain prejudice about them. It is even easier to dismiss them as people, even if those offenders are those that we love. It is not so much of a stretch after that to see that those offenders themselves might have certain prejudices that predate their incarceration or might even be gained during their time spend behind bars. Within this essay we will discuss the occurrence of prejudice, discrimination, and aggression among offenders while receiving correctional program support services for rehabilitation.

Possible causes of aggressive behavior in this setting, according to the theories of aggression.

Aggression, in theory, can be seen in many creatures that surround us, even our fellow humans. One theory of aggression is instinct aggression, one that you might see in an animal that isn’t used to humans, being suddenly forced to interact with humans. It might have a certain level of aggression. “The instinct theory of aggression originates from the instinct of death or destruction. Physiologically the death instinct represents the force which tend to destroy the organic life and to lead organic matter back to the inorganic state” according to Freud and his peers.

The second theory is Frustration, to which it is said “Frustrating events are those which block the individual’s goal-oriented behavior, threaten his self-esteem or deprive him of the opportunity to gratify his important motives and immediate goals (2017).” Which is a very common aggression found in prisons or jails, an inmate is not more than that a prisoner to most, only there to serve his time with little gratification, not to mention being locked away from society and those he cares for.

The third theory is about social learning, which is about traits that have been collected from those around us (2015 4th ed). So, a person with an angry upbringing might be an angry person as an adult, or someone who has been forced to witness violence might become violent themselves. It is also easy here to see why this might affect an incarcerated person, if it isn’t what got them into trouble in the first place.

Possible effects of prejudice, discrimination, and aggression on offenders and their social relationships.

When looking at an offender and seeing nothing but it can lead to them feeling very isolated and outcasted from their familial groups. They can often be cut off from that contact with the outside world. When incarcerated they are also treated differently for being offenders, even more so if there are racial issues involved. This can be a hard matter to overcome and see them struggling to cope with it. When they are out of jail or prison, they are often still treated as something other than an ordinary person.

Also, they are expected to gain employment and housing after they get out but are often turned down because of time that they have spent incarcerated and away from society. This sort of isolation is often an issue with their success on the outside, they often lose their comfort levels with being out and about, and find themselves committing a new crime, just to be sent back to a place where there is more acceptance than on the outside of prison.

Potential organizational issues that may arise due to prejudice, discrimination, or aggression.

While in prison there is a stereotype portrayed on television about race division within the jail or prison, and it is believed that this is a real thing. People often group together with one another just simply because we are human beings and require social interactions to strive happily in society. This is no different within the prison system, only it is sometimes divided up by race or affiliation. When you aren’t careful you can often find yourself in the middle of a racial issue just as an ordinary citizen, it is all that much harder when you are surrounded by the same people with the same issues.

Then things like racially driven violence between offenders is an issue or a racially driven violence towards guards. It is hard to diffuse a racially motivated fight between two people when you are looking at it from the outside. There are some people who have been raised to believe that racism is okay that they must include this in all acts of life. Like in the movie American History X, the main character played by Edward Norton is a “skin head” who ends up going to prison for a racially motivated crime, but it also shows how the people inside of the prison have chosen to group up together, sorting themselves by color rather that personal choices and tastes. During the movie the main character learns from his choices eventually, but it was all caused by violence towards people from another race that he saw as the enemy. In prisons and in real life it is easy to see how such a thing can really happen and motivate others for the worse leading violence and racial issues on top of their life incarcerated.

Possible methods to prevent issues related to these concepts from recurring

If we want to have any hope of being able to move forward from the issues that we have with offenders and the prejudices that they face, it is necessary to think outside of the box to fix the issue at hand. When we are looking at racial issues for example, it is best to try and help those who seem to be motivated by social exposure to racism to understand that it is only making their time that much harder to bare, and to educate them on the differences.

Nevertheless, if you are trying to help an offender on the outside, I think that it is important to give them better tools to succeed. Better access to housing and jobs so that they might be able to make it better without the fear of them committing more crimes for the sole purpose of having a place to go. If you were to also look at the ways that aggression and prejudice manifest themselves in certain people, it might be helpful for them to be better educated about certain subjects so that they might be more informed about the facts rather than just going off their own thoughts led by prejudice


The problem with society is that we tend to look at individuals who are incarcerated differently. Instead of looking at them as person in prison it is easy to determine for ourselves that they are as a human being worth less than others who might have never committed a crime before. However, they are still no different than anyone else, they have made mistakes and are now serving a sentence for those mistakes. Overall be mindful of others don’t ever feel that anybody has a lesser value than the next.


Greenwald, A. G., & Pettigrew, T. F. (2014). With malice toward none and charity for some: Ingroup favoritism enables discrimination. The American Psychologist, 69(7), 669-684. doi:10.1037/a0036056

  • Branscombe, N.R& Baron,R.A, (2017) Social Psychology, New York, NY

social learning theory (2015). (4th ed.) Oxford University Press.

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