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NCJ Number: 135967 Find in a Library
Title: Modern Prison as Total Institution? Public Perception Versus Objective Reality
Journal: Crime and Delinquency  Volume:38  Issue:1  Dated:special issue (January 1992)  Pages:6-26
Author(s): K Farrington
Date Published: 1992
Page Count: 21
Type: Survey
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Building on earlier research indicating that the modern American correctional facility should be viewed as a somewhat less than total institution, this article discusses specific reasons why the contemporary prison is not more fully and effectively separated from the larger social world in which it is situated.
Abstract: Current attitudes about crime and criminals reflect concerns about violence and personal safety and the desire to remove at least certain criminals from the larger society. An inconsistency in the establishment of total prisons involves the focus on rehabilitation and reintegration. Although the idea of prisons as total institutions may be comforting and understandable at a social-psychological level, widespread public adherence to this notion may actually be harmful in its broader social consequences. Because American prisons are not total institutions, they cannot accomplish what total institutions should be able to accomplish, at least in theory. They cannot totally remove the criminal element from society, they cannot protect society on a long-term basis, and they do not rehabilitate in any systematic way. Nonetheless, American criminal justice policy seems to be at least unconsciously based on the mythical conception of prisons as total institutions. Laws are becoming harsher, sentences are becoming longer, prison populations are growing, and more new prisons are being built. It is suggested that academic criminologists and prison administrators may need to be more unified and explicit in their rejection of the notion of the prison as a total institution and that the American public and lawmakers may need to adjust their thinking and behavior accordingly. 50 references and 3 notes
Main Term(s): Correctional facilities
Index Term(s): Corrections policies; Incarceration; Public Opinion of Corrections; Rehabilitation
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