In this paper I will address and discuss social structure theory. I have chosen the “Pelican Bay State Prison: War Zone” video. I will discuss how the video supports social structure theory, the primary subject or content of the video, and the social issues raised in the video. I shall also address the major principles of sociological theory addressed in the video and some possible ramifications for social policy change. Social Structure Theory Explained
Social structure theories imply that society, finances, and social arrangements are the primary cause for criminal behavior. It suggests that a persons’ chance of becoming a criminal is influenced by their place in the socioeconomic structure. In other words poor or low income people are more likely to get involved in criminal behavior. The social structure theory was developed by theorist who studied the lives of criminals and where they came from. As they studied the lives of criminals they discovered that there was an apparent link to how juveniles became criminals. The subject that stood out the most was the idea that criminal behavior was more likely for those who did not finish school. They found that when an individual finished school their chances of criminal behavior diminished more and more. How Did the Video Support Social Structure Theory
In the video that I have viewed, “Pelican Bay State Prison: War Zone”, there was a lot of information that supported crime evolving from a social structure theory. The prisoners that are in Pelican Bay State Prison set a goal to get into this prison because it is more like a reward more than a punishment for them. Once sent there they can wear it as a badge of honor. Pelican Bay is a prison for only the meanest and toughest of prisoners, mostly gang leaders and such. These gang leaders still run the gangs while they are in prison and are fearless. They come from the only family that they have ever known and would give their life for the gang. Most prisoner, gang leaders are only educated in the streets and nowhere else.
In the video they talk about how Pelican Bay State Prison is known for the thousands upon thousands of gang leaders that set a goal to end up there for more recognition. The prisoners that end up in Pelican Bay go in strong and hardcore, and when they come out they are not weaker but stronger and more dedicated than ever to be the gang leader that they are. The gang is not lost without their leader right beside them because they know they will be keeping in touch with the leader on a regular basis. It is a life that is wanted by these gang leaders and members that will rise to the top of the gang. Primary Subject of the Video
The primary subject that is discussed in the video is how the gangs are ran from these gang leaders being inside the confines of Pelican Bay. The prison is trying to fight back and put a stop to the gang activity but it is doing no good. The prison was made to try and keep the gang leaders and members from continuing this activity of violence on the street and put them into a scare but the gang members and leaders come to Pelican Bay to hone their skills instead of losing touch of them. It has become more of a teaching institution than a prison. The prison is a war zone, with violence at every corner and communication to the outside to order killings. This state prison has not had the upper hand for the law enforcement to keep gang activity down, rather it has backfired as a learning ground. Social Issues Raised in the Video
The main social issue raised in this video is the controlling of gangs through the prison in many different ways. The gang leaders in Pelican Bay run drugs through communication techniques used while in prison. They also have the power to order “hits” or murders while still behind bars. Pelican Bay wants to stop this but it is not as easy as it seems. The battle of keeping the gang leaders from running the gang while still in prison is a war itself. There are so many different views that the prison staff has to look at in each battle of this war that goes on each and every day in the Pelican Bay State Prison.
Major Principles of Sociological Theory Addressed in the Video There are two main principles that I see that are addressed in this video. The two principles are lack of healthy home growing up and gang life being the only home these prisoners of Pelican Bay has ever had. The prisoners that are in Pelican Bay State Prison have never had any other life except for the gang that they come from. The life of gang violence is what occurs on a daily basis in the prison and the gang leaders even control the murders of some individuals that have acted against the gang in a manner that the gang feels threatened in some way. The gang members and leaders that are in this prison live and die for the gang.