I am convinced that the facilities and methods of incarceration used in this country are very poorly implemented, and that the “system” chartered to manage it has turned a blind eye, or is otherwise incapable of seeing the wrong in it. Here’s a copy of an email I just sent to a list I’m on:
So, having recently signed up on Netflix, I was picking movies left and right based on their recommendations. One was called “The Experiment.” Here is Netflix’ description:
An artificial prison has been built as part of a psychological experiment in which 20 male participants are asked to take roles as either prisoners or guards. As psychologists watch the results unfold, our focus is on a former journalist who was intrigued by the experiment and volunteered to be one of the prisoners, thinking there might be a big story in it for him. But he ends up getting a lot more than he bargained for.
I didn’t realize until I started watching that the movie was in German. Nevertheless, I found it to be gripping and intense.
Here’s the thing: I just learned that this experiment really took place (NOTE: if you think you might want to see the movie, you might want to wait before reading this material, otherwise it will give things away):
Not only that, but reading the description of the experiment and their results, and comparing that to the movie, I was amazed at the accuracy of the reproduction.
When I watched the movie, I thought it was based on a fictional story (there was some story credit given in the German opening credits). So, I was sitting there watching, thinking, “this experiment would never be conducted; it wouldn't reflect the reality of real prisoners, because each of the subjects a) knew he was not guilty, and b) knew he was done in two weeks.”
Having viewed the slideshow describing the actual experiment, I am somewhat sickened by the results. The speed at which human behavior breaks down (moves from decent and caring to power-hungry and abusive) is astonishing.