She’s a marxist has a nice post up detailing her experience at the Move-In Day snake march and attempted occupation in Oakland back in January — as well as the numbing four days that she spent in Santa Rita afterward. Maybe the most interesting part (among lots of interesting parts, to be sure) is when she reflects upon why several inmates sympathized with a guard who pitilessly excoriated one inmate for talking back (in fact, for saying “have a nice day”):
Later I talked about this with some friends (once we were out of Rita) and we talked about the ways in which people in the jail both hated the guards and were well aware of how fucked up the place was, but how many people really seemed to focus on policing one another to follow rules and get by within the jail. My friends and I remarked about how when one is in a powerless situation, it seems to give you a sense of control to identify with power and to regulate your own behavior.
We also remarked about how we had felt a mix of contempt towards guards but also a desperate desire to be shown some humanity by them. You feel so powerless and you want so bad to feel some semblance of safety and security that you almost wish that the guards would like you, or see some kind of worth in you. This probably also contributed to people identifying with guards and the rules of the prison. The need for safety can cause people to really identify with their abusers