Prison Subculture and Drug-Related Crimes in Iran

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 08:54
Oral Presentation
Nahid RAHIMIPOUR ANARAKI, Department of Sociology, Memorial University, Canada
Anton OLEINIK, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada
The so-called ‘war on drugs’ or anti-drug campaign in the Islamic Republic of Iran has had irreversible and unexpected consequences since 1979. Drug-related offenders receive large fines, lengthy sentences, corporal punishment, and the death penalty (e.g. 21 executions in one week of January 2014).

The war on drugs, as Christie (1993) has argued, has had unexpected gains and costs. It is worth considering that one of the most important consequences of anti-narcotics laws and the war on drugs, which impose stricter sanctions for drug-related crimes, is the spread of criminal cultures within society. Before their arrest, drug-related offenders are not necessarily in regular contact with criminals, but they become familiar with criminals and prison subculture once incarcerated. Prison life is guided and organized based on official norms and inmate norms, the latter developed by prisoners to make prison life more bearable (Oleinik A. N., 2003). Incarceration does not occur in a vacuum and many theories frame prison as a society or community (e.g. Clemmer, 1940; Sykes, 1958) in which inmate subculture revolves around specific inmate codes.”

The main objective of the proposed research project is to compare the subcultures of prisons in Iran, by paying particular attention to the most populated provinces like Tehran, Isfahan, Kerman, etc., as governmental institutions which have both custodial and treatment orientations simultaneously, with non-governmental institutions which are treatment-oriented and provide drug-users with medical and educational facilities. Therfore, the two main questions of this study are:

1- How do drug-related criminals and drug-users experience the context of prison and NGOs?

2- How do drug-related offenders approach their lives under the condition of contemporary confinement?

I intend to utilize Grounded Theory (GT) in my research. Therefore, participants’ experiences, understandings, and perceptions about their lives will be central when conducting in-depth, semi-structured and open-ended interviews.