Friday, March 30, 2012

Prison Queendom

Jim Carrey as Steven Russell in I Love You Phillip Morris (2009)
(Jim Carrey in prison)

Prison culture is commonly warped by media coverage and movie/television. Outside society can only guess what is actually going on inside an institution and unfortunately, most peoples’ ideas are false. When prison culture becomes the subject of debate, it is hard to steer around inmate sexuality. One of the most intriguing types of inmates is often described as a queen. In CJS 310 with Jessie Krienert, we spent some time covering this special population. After learning more about them, I was surprised about their role within a prison.

The term surrounding all queens is tagged, “Queendom.” This is in reference to the lifestyle queens live. Queens are treated like a woman and treated well, as any male inmate or staff would treat an actual woman. These inmates are used for sex by both inmates and staff. Sex with queens is generally always consensual. This reveals how seriously the inmates regard queens and their role inside the institution. Queens are known for wearing make-up, dying their hair, and being called by their female name.

Interestingly enough, female officer are allowed to pat-down and transfer queens by themselves because they are considered to be women. This causes an extreme security threat for the officer but is consistently overlooked. Queens have an extensive history of violence inside prison and are known not to be messed with. Obviously, this special population should be treated with a little more caution.

Queens are well known for receiving special treatment from management, staff, and their prison peers. The most extreme case of this concerns queens and their networking abilities. Queens have a very wide social network and are capable of moving from group-to-group and do not hold alliances with any particular, territory, race, or gang. This makes them a valuable source for inside knowledge. Queens do not hide the fact they are snitches. Both staff and inmates know queens snitch but neither group has any issue with this. It is my understanding that they are the only group who hold this privilege. Snitches are one of the lowest forms of inmates and snitching generally will result in harsh physical violence. Queens tend to have information they can hold over other inmates which means they are safe when snitching. They can also withhold sex from other inmates which keeps them protected from physical or verbal punishment.

No other population of inmates receives favoritism quite like queens. As earlier stated, I first learned of Queendom this semester in class and was shocked by their role in prison. I have yet to see a movie portraying a group or an individual that fits this description of queens. With that said, I will leave you with a video of perhaps my favorite prisoner of all, Fleece “Booty Warrior” Johnson.
CJS 310
PHI 202


  1. I have honestly never heard of this. It sounds an awful lot like transvestites, except that they often get picked on and beat up on in prisons, with absolutely no power at all. I cannot see a man that dresses up as a woman getting any respect from another prisoner. This is also implying that prisons are corrupt, and disregard protocol. I'm not saying it's not possible, there is corruption everywhere, however, an entire prison being corrupt, and multiple prisons at that is a little far fetched for me. This sounds like a single prison incident, or perhaps a few. I'll have to do a little bit of research on it. Interesting read regardless.

  2. This is a very interesting post. I too, have not heard of this phenomenon within prison culture. I do, however, find prison culture very intriguing. Prisoners have their own culture within the walls of the penitentiaries. I have not learned about the "Queens," but this category of inmates seems very interesting. I was stunned to read how these individuals are treated differently by correction officers. It seems odd that they are allowed to be transferred solely by female officers. This seems highly dangerous and against prison security protocol. It would be a real shame if these individuals were able to take advantage of this leniency in security and were to commit a violent act against the female officers.

    In the correction class I took at community college we focused primarily on the gang culture and the cultures within female prisons. I do, however, find the "Queendom" culture quite fascinating, because these individuals have found a niche within the culture and have used their sexuality and character to their advantage inside the dangerous atmosphere of prison.