American prisons for men are places of violence and degradation. This is a picture of that life. Most Americans view prisons as totally alien from the society which they inhabit. There is a crisis in American prisons, however, and it needs to be better understood because of the over two million people in prison, 95% will return to society. An examination of prison life, gleaned through the writings of prisoners, ex-convicts, guards, wardens, and prison personnel reveals a world similar to non-prison America. It is part of the social landscape and reflects the social relationships of men and women. Given the absence of women in male prisons, a gender order is created, mostly through male-on-male rape, in which men dominate "women," and a male hierarchy is established wherein strong males dominate the weak. These relationships between men are part of the prisoners' code, and are tolerated, and at times tacitly encouraged, by prison administrators who are desperate to keep control of their prisons. The result is that prisoners who return to society are often meaner, angrier, more psychotic and violent than when they entered prison.