The Underworld



The System

Famous Crime





Forced labor convicts fighting. "Settling accounts on the loyale," by the convict Lagrange (Roger Viollet).

"We do not want the inmates to hear each other speak, but we cannot help if they hear each other scream."

Charles Lucas, De la Reforme des Prisons


With corrupt guards beating inmates, small confining cells, strenous labor, and the absense of education, the wanted reforms were lacking in French prisons and inmates had little to do to fight back. Contrary to popular belief, prison riots were not a common occurance. Many people would like to believe that the prisoners often banded together and fought against the authority of the guards, but in fact, the normal reaction to prison life was nervous breakdown or suicude (O'Brien). Because of the atrocious conditions within the prisons walls, inmates adjusted to their new life by forming new subcultures. These methods of adjustment included a new vocabulary, symbols, and forms of interaction and formations of social hierarchy.