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NCJ Number: 200666 Find in a Library
Title: Social Distance and Discretionary Rule Enforcement in a Women's Prison
Journal: The Prison Journal  Volume:83  Issue:2  Dated:June 2003  Pages:191-205
Author(s): Robert M. Freeman
Date Published: June 2003
Page Count: 15
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines corrections officials’ attitudes towards inmates and the official reporting of both major and minor institutional rule violations by female inmates are examined.
Abstract: Discretion is the process by which justice officials possess the legal authority to make decisions in accordance with personal judgment and conscience instead of rigidly enforcing a law, regulation, rule, or procedure. This article contends that correctional officers tend to exert broad discretion in enforcing prison rules, and presents literature addressing the ways in which corrections officials exercise discretion. A study was conducted using data collected at a northeastern women’s prison that houses 800 female inmates. Corrections officials’ attitudes towards inmates were identified through a self-report instrument continuing 17 statements from the Klofas-Toch Measure of Professional Orientation. Analysis of this data through ordinary least squares multivariate regression in conjunction with an assessment of officer demographic variables indicated that social distance was the only dimension that predicted rule violation reporting. Furthermore, corrections officials who preferred high levels of social distance filed a greater number of minor misconduct reports than did officers preferring low social distance. The author also found that neither the social distance nor the human service orientation dimensions predicted the filing of major misconduct reports, even when controlling for race and gender. The influence of social distance in rule violation reporting needs to be included in correctional training program curricula. Tables, references
Main Term(s): Attitude measurement; Correctional personnel attitudes
Index Term(s): Curriculum; Female inmates; Female offenders; Females; Theory
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