Geography and Prisons in Arizona

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Social Studies

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Geography and Prisons in Arizona

Standard 11: Economic Interdependence The state of Arizona allocates just over 10% of its budget to corrections each year in the name of public safety. The Red Rock Correctional Center, Arizona’s newest private prisons, negioated a contract that reads if “the prison reaches a 90 percent occupancy rate will result in the company being paid at least $58,887 a day for 900 inmates — nearly $21.5 million a year.” Joe Taxpayer making $50K a year will pay $1540 in which $154 will go to the prison system.Source

Geography and Arizona's Prisons


Standard 6: Perception of Place and Region The geographical structure of the Florence state prison is mainly an industrial open land that hasn’t been commercialized by the common masses. If closely observed, the lands are left exposed, probably because if it is industrialized the attraction of the people will make it challenging for the security to keep check of intruders and possible escapes. The idea of a prison is to bar outside contact, and if the open lands around the prison get occupied by residents or factories, the prisoners would get easily distracted. Thus, the open lands around the prison seems ideal.Source

Standard 10: CultureMany countries are largely populated by immigrants and so the culture is influenced by many groups of people that now make up the country. This is also a part of growth. As the counties grow so does it's cultural diversity, so in Florence prison too one can find inmates of different race and cultures.Total- 4028, Caucasian- 40.1%, African-American- 14.3%, Native American- 5.7%, Mexican American- 28.3%, Mexican National- 9.7%, Others- 0.2%.Source

Standard 3: Analyzing the Spatial Organization of People, Places, and Environments As we ponder about prisons we can describe and analyze them in a few different ways, such as the type of inmate—the offense they have committed, the type of prison—penitentiaries to private, or the sort of physical environment of the prison—whether that be climate or landscape. In terms of human features, prisons have many concrete structures, high towering walls, barbed wire fences, and limited privacy. The development of new prisons would be an example of applying spatial analysis and putting it into practice because facilities are built, not in the middle of cities, but far off from metropolitan areas. Developers tend to build prisons in remote places to discourage escape among prisoners and for easy jurisdiction. Often facilities are far off from each other and are constructed by size; for instance, large prisons for men, small prisons for women, or private prisons in sequestered areas. This map illustrates a functional region, for there is organization on the prison grounds. source

Standard 7: Physical Processes Systems in prisons consist of administrative staff, security guards, activity leaders etc. This system keeps the prisons running smoothly. There are many subtle events held in thee prison like, special education, covering emotional and religious needs, community services and so on, so maintain a curriculum amongst the prisoners, thus, balancing the input and output of the system. Source

Standard 1: Maps & other Geographic RepresentationsThe purpose of this map is to give location of all the prison facilities in Arizona; therefore, it is a thematic map. It is also considered a conical map projection because it covers only a medium area, the state. Though it is not a precise representation, it imparts an estimation of prison locations throughout Arizona; for instance, the prison near Winslow is actually south of the area, whereas this map displays it as being situated north of the town. This map tells the reader only where the prisons are and how many there are; it does not provide enough detail on how to get to them or even the types of terrain they are situated in, consequently it is a small graphic scale map, as well.source

Standard 2: Mental MapsWhen one thinks of prisons they are often pictured as being isolated, away from major cities or civilization, and in the case of Arizona, basically a concrete island in the middle of the desert. The thought of prison location is probably similar to this picture above, therefore it is considered a mental map, which is a spatial image that one carries inside their head, mind about places, peoples, and lands. However, depending on what an individual knows about prisons, a mental map can be either thorough or very sparse. For instance, comparing the description of that of someone who has visited a correctional facility to that of another who has never been or traveled near one. The more one knows about the location of prisons, the more detailed and accurate a mental map can be, which in turn creates a better account. Observance is key for the mental image of any place, although personal perceptions, stereotypes, and prejudices can play a role in how that mental map is constructed. No doubt do mental maps of prisons differ.source

Standard 16: Geography of Natural ResourcesThe first concept that comes in mind when talking about natural resources is the amount of natural resources necessary to build an ever-expanding prison complex, also what are the costs of transportation of their resources to excluded areas. Also, the concept of massive under-exploited or unexploited land in Arizona, which much of it serves as land where prisons are built utilizing this very concept of massive land easy to monitor.

Standard 4: Physical and Human Characteristics of PlacesDirectly following the familiarization of a place, emotion then is attached to that place, and prisons indeed are tied with both negative and positive sentiments. Prisons can give meaning and feeling to someone awaiting a ruling, someone already serving time, and someone who has fulfilled their punishment; depending on the circumstances the emotions that they have affixed to prisons can be quite disparate. With that in mind, prisons can transform people, good or bad. From a prisoner’s perspective, the buildings, atmosphere, routines may have a lasting effect on them as they finish their sentence, or as they continue that sentence. The experience of being incarcerated adds to their sense of identity, for, in most cases, they spend a significant amount of time behind walls and bars. Therefore, their description of prisons are automatically authentic: the place has become a part of them and they know what it means to be there. Accordingly, most ex-prisoners appreciate the differences between freedom and restriction.source

Standard 8: Characteristics and Distutribution of Earth's EcosystemsWe can regard the Florence prison as a small ecosystem consisting of structure, buildings, inmates and the staff that operates or helps in functioning and maintaining a balance of the ecosystem of prisons where all inmates need to adhere the laws and guidelines of the prison system. Certain measures used are:Ensuring different types of felons are separated physically according to the categories 1-5.Multiple programs that allow felons integration back to society-special attention paid to education that provides skills to inmates.Community corrections ensures the accurate release, transition and supervision of offenders released in communities utilizing a continuum of supervision services, strategies, evidence based programs and meaningful incentives and sanctions.Inmates allowed to go out for daily interaction in open areas within the facilities based on their felony category. So all these programs balance the prison ecosystem and minimize security risks to inmates and staff and successful integration of inmates back to society.Source

Standard 5: Regional Geography: People Create Regions to Interpret Earth’s Complexity Facilities within prison facilities can be thought of as regions, which are human constructs whose boundaries or characteristics are derived from sets of specific criteria. Importantly, regions are distinct and are set apart from other regions by attributes, and in regard to prisons, regions are used to simplify the whole. Prisons can be broken up and divided into sections; for instance, prisons have various departments or units for specific offenses, ranging from minor to high crime. These sections of prisons are, therefore, considered formal regions because they are defined or limited to specific felonies; in other words, those who are all doing time for the same crime have a common, similar correctional identity. An all-female prison could also be an example of a region. These qualify as regions because inmates are separated by their crimes, making for a better administration of the whole prison.source

Standard 13: Political Geography The Corrections Corp. of America is the country's largest private-prison operator employs platoons of lobbyists, doling out campaign contributions and working through political connections in Arizona and across the country. CCA has spent about $17.6 million lobbying Congress and federal agencies over the past decade. The company’s lobbying has been awarded to the point in which it has won $3.84 billion in federal contracts, including just under $546 million for federal contracts in Arizona. source

Standard 12: Human Settlement Patterns Perryville State PrisonIn 2005, the Perryville State Prison was surrounded by cotton fields. The population of Goodyear in 2005 was 42,303. As of 2013, the population of Goodyear was 72,864. This explosion in the population of Goodyear has sprawled out to the outskirts of the prison. Source

Standard 15: Environment’s Effect on Human Settlement Communities suffering from declines in farming, mining, timber-work and manufacturing are now begging for prisons to be built in their backyards. These placements of prisons in rural areas brings job opportunities to the area. Former farmers and miners will have the chance to place food on the table. Source

Standard 14: Human Impact on Environment There has been seven correctional facilities built since 2000. This increase of prisons has shrank the possible agricultural land. The average farm size in Arizona has been shrinking as well. The average farm in Arizona was 1,670 acres in 2007, and by 2012 this figure had declined to 1,312 acres. In part, the construction of correctional facilities has diminished the farming opportunities in Arizona.

Standard 9: Population Characteristics, Distribution and Growth Just as the world population is seen to be increasing similarly inmates in Arizona prisons seem to be growing rapidly. In order to curb the prisons from overcrowded and to make sure that current inmates don't become repeated offenders, prison programs should be improved to provide better integration into society. Source

Standard 18: Applying Geography to Interpret the Present and Plan the FutureI believe that the set-up of the “prison/city” will make it possible to have all that region expended for the purposes of incarceration. Especially that the geography facilitates the task of the incarcerator to better monitor the incarcerated. Also, the future of prisons would definitely put Arizona on the map for the development of the mistreatment and unhuman treatment of prisoners in our state.

Standard 17: Applying Geography to Interpret the PastThe analysis of the historical map of prisons in Arizona can give us an insight on the movement of urbanism throughout the state. From Yuma, which is far south to Florence to urban prisons nowadays. The position of prisons in Arizona definitely can be linked to the history of the state. Also, there is a big connection between prisoners and the history of road and bridges around the state.


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