the criminology and criminal justice network
A gifted TV reporter told me that his crew spent three weeks in a Hungarian prison. They were in the prison for a week just to be not alienated in the prison situation and to find the words which are used by the staff or breaking the ice. In Hungary it is not easy to make a documentary in a prison. The staff is mainly not authorized to say a word without a previous and exclusive permission from the management. This is a quite frequent situation also in other prisons of the world. There are some taboos in every prisons and some issues are confidential. In some cases a prison is also publicly closed, there is a code of silence within the prison. Prison is a unique world which rejects a person who is not competent or not truly involved in the story. Occasional prison visitors are not welcomed in this setting.
The reporter himself grew up in a slummy neighborhood somewhere in the north-eastern part of the country. His fellows were also incarcerated and he was the only one from them who succeeded to join educational institutes. He worked as reporter in the most popular criminal news TV show in the country and his field of operation was the prison.
As his crew survived the first week within the prison they tried to speak to some prisoners. The inmates told their stories but they acted also in the front of the camera. They pretended themselves to be more cool, relaxed and rich. They kept distance between their self and the crime they committed. They spoke about themselves as outer observers, and the stories were completely discredited and false. However in the moment as they switched off the cameras the inmates started to tell the most vivid and interesting stories. As the reporter said if they could repeat it also for the camera, they immobilized and frustrated totally. Prison officers were the same, they told the best stories without recording and when the camera was also presenting they acted like lame puppets. This anxiety could not dissolve for three weeks.
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