Multiculturalism is a policy that presupposes cultural pluralism and promotes its development. This is due to respect for the rights of the entire population of any country, regardless of ethnic, racial, and religious differences of people. In a multiculturalist society, all citizens of the country have equal rights to develop their culture, language, traditions, and ethnic and religious values. The theoretical basis of multiculturalism is liberalism, especially its values such as freedom, equality, and fraternity. Cultural diversity can be observed in different spheres of human life, and one of the most popular is the justice system. Even though multiculturalism is not always considered in correctional institutions, it is still one of the most important criteria when choosing personnel.
Multiculturalism in Correctional Institutions
Multiculturalism is a policy that is very close in essence to the policy of tolerance. The most important feature of a tolerant society is the parallel existence of different cultures. In a tolerant society, multiculturalism promotes mutual enrichment of cultures, and this is due to the process of penetration of one culture into another in order to further the cultural unification of people. Multiculturalism is a variety of reactions to cultural diversity, which is supported not only by the dominant ethnic groups of people but also by minorities (McNamara & Burns, 2021). The specific features of multiculturalism characterize it as a positive phenomenon that ultimately contributes to the development of society.
For society to develop and function normally, it is necessary to solve a fundamental and acute problem today, such as racism. It is required to achieve cultural diversity among employees, even in correctional institutions. Racism is a set of doctrines based on the provisions on the physical and mental inequality of human races and the decisive influence of racial differences on the history and culture of society (McNamara & Burns, 2021). Undoubtedly, even in correctional systems, people did not immediately achieve cultural diversity among staff.
In prisons, it can notice a wide variety of people who differ in culture, religion, race, ethnicity, and other characteristics. This diversity is a problem and creates inconvenience for co-workers and people serving sentences there. The number of prisoners is growing, and therefore the variety of prisoners is also evolving, which as a result, shows a significant difference between each other. People of different ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds often enter into conflicts and thereby dividing groups and making the multicultural gap even more extensive.
To prevent some possible problems, the prison staff must be diverse. When hiring employees of one particular race or religion, there is probably a more humane attitude towards one group of prisoners and a more biased attitude towards another. Such a difference in attitude towards prisoners can lead to an increase in the number of clashes, conflicts, attacks on employees, and other negative consequences (McNamara & Burns, 2021). In addition to ethnic aspects, it is also necessary that employees be diverse in religion. Everyone has the right to make their own decision about the belief that is closer to them. Nevertheless, in prisons, freedom of religion can sometimes cause conflict, clashes, and violence among prisoners, as well as concerning prison staff serving sentences.
In prison, all prisoners, regardless of their race, gender, ethnicity, and faith, should be provided with the same treatment, protection from violence and assault, and general conditions. In addition, some prisoners may be able to get parole, which is considered by higher authorities, including based on data on the behavior of the prisoner while serving time. Correctional officers should treat the possibility of prisoners being released early with equal consideration and not hinder this opportunity.
The evolution of diversity among prison staff began because the variety was previously limited. The staff did not respect the prisoners, separating them on various grounds, which led to many clashes and conflicts (McNamara & Burns, 2021). Prison staff gave greater preference to prisoners whose culture and race corresponded to their own. Over time, such discrimination began to decrease because even though prisoners have fewer opportunities to compare with people, they still retain the right to their faith, race, gender, etc. This right should not be discriminated against even on the territory of the prison. In order to prevent the further spread of discrimination, prison officers need to develop an effective policy toward different people.
Nevertheless, there is still a negative attitude towards multiculturalism among all the co-workers and prisoners in prisons. This problem is especially acute for prisoners who have been serving sentences for a long time. Groups and gangs are formed among them, which leads to various issues related to multiculturalism (McNamara & Burns, 2021). Also, even in those prisons in which the sentence is served for a short time, there is a problem of discrimination among both prisoners and their employees concerning those serving a sentence.
In conclusion, all correctional institutions have a problem with multiculturalism. It is necessary to take measures that will contribute to the elimination of discrimination and bias in prisons, as they are the cause of the issues and clashes among people. People should be more tolerant and tolerant towards each other, as well as prevent racial, ethnic, and religious conflicts. Over time, it will probably find a way to help regulate discrimination in places of deprivation of liberty, but to this day, unfortunately, no effective solutions have been found.
McNamara, R. & Burns, R. (2021). Multiculturalism, crime, and criminal justice. Oxford University Press.