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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 156485 Find in a Library
Title: Inmate Involvement in Prison Governance
Journal: Federal Probation  Volume:59  Issue:2  Dated:(June 1995)  Pages:34-39
Author(s): H Toch
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 6
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the task of finding acceptable ways for prisoners to take and discharge responsibilities while in prison.
Abstract: Prisoner involvement in prison governance can be about creating community, about prisoners having sound and practical ideas to improve life in prison, about proposing these ideas and working hard to implement them. Prisoner involvement can enhance prison regimes by reducing the dependency of dependent prisoners, the alienation of alienated ones, and the ambivalence to authority of most others. Prisons gain from prison democracy when prisoners become committed to the improvement of prisons. The development of this commitment is determined by the degree to which prisoners have opportunities for involvement that makes sense to them from their perspective, as well as making sense to criminal justice personnel and to the community. Commitment varies also with the degree to which prisoners can: (1) display and rehearse skills of their interest; (2) engage in collaborative activity to exercise interpersonal skills; and (3) contribute to the solution of problems. The principal impediment to initiating any experiment in prisoner involvement is a lack of trust. In even the most benevolent prisons transactions between staff and prisoners are essentially parental. To move into an adult-adult relationship: (1) prisoners must give up structure, the support inherent in dependence, and the luxury of blaming staff for every conceivable adversity; and (2) staff members must give up structure and prized assumptions about the immaturity, incapacity, and intrinsic untrustworthiness of prisoners. The author describes efforts to stimulate the inception of democracy in two Scottish prisons. Notes
Main Term(s): Corrections
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Criminology; Custody vs treatment conflict; Inmate self-government; Prison climate; Prison management; Scotland
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