Author: Dev R Maitra
A number of distinct ideas fall under the rubric of ‘the problem of order’. It is, therefore, difficult to speak of a cohesive conceptual framework. However, one facet which is axiomatic to the problem of order in prison is a concern with maintaining appropriate levels of control. The organizing principle of this paper is to articulate what this problem means in contemporary prisons, and which policies best militate against disorder manifesting itself within prison. I will begin by deconstructing the problem of order as a theoretical concept. I shall argue that it is difficult to present a singular, theoretical perspective: ‘the problem of order’ refers to various aspects of prison governance, ranging from a focus on achieving legitimacy, to a concern with controlling prisoner defiance. I further intend to show how these various perspectives shape prison policies. I will then go on to illustrate the problem of order in relation to a specific manifestation of disorder: the prison riot. I shall argue that collective violence offers the clearest illustration of prison disorder. Moreover, official responses to such riots are indicative of the varying control policies implemented to resolve the problem of order in prison. Finally, I aim to illustrate how order is best accomplished through maintaining an appropriate ‘weight’ of imprisonment. I intend to illustrate the widening chasm between methods used to maintain order in private and public prisons. Further, I will argue that order is best accomplished when prisons deploy control policies within a situational framework.
Keyword: Prisons, Problem of Order’, Maintaining Control, Penal System