This is Kenjuan Congo, Jr. and the title of this piece is “The Socioeconomic Status in Prison.”
There are socioeconomic statuses in prison. Those economic statuses being a composite rating based on various dimensions of social inequality. Because of the size of the prison population, dynamics occur such as sexual preference, race, income, religion, and educational level.
And based on these various dimensions, a prisoner is ranked in a social hierarchy: homo- and bisexuals, snitches, and sexual offenders are some of the the groups at the bottom of the socioeconomic status. On the other hand, those with a lot of publicity around their case, people who have a lot of money, and those with a high reputation are some of the groups at the top of this socioeconomic status.
Those at the bottom of this ranking may be subject to bullying, harassment, expulsion, and other unfavorable consequences of their socioeconomic status positioning. Those at the top of the hierarchy may enjoy advantages like drugs, alcohol, food that was smuggled, among other benefits. Still, regardless of social economic status, the system projects trajectories toward other illegal behavior.
At SCI Chester where I’m currently being housed, the lowest paying job is about 19 cents per hour with the highest paying job being about 51 cents per hour. Let’s say I do have the highest paying job at 51 cents an hour. How many hours would I have to work to pay a lawyer thousands of dollars? How many hours to support my family financially?
Due to abysmal pay given to prisoners, our best option is to engage in illegal activities to give financial support to our families and, ironically, to pay for legal representation. When examining the socioeconomic statuses of prison, the solution does not solve the problem. It only perpetuates it.
This is Kenjuan Congo, Jr. from the belly of the beast. Thank y’all. All power to the people.
These commentaries are recorded by Prison Radio.