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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 43831 Find in a Library
Title: PRISON OMBUDSMEN IN AMERICA... THEY LISTEN TO BOTH SIDES
Journal: CORRECTIONS MAGAZINE  Volume:1  Issue:3  Dated:(JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1975)  Pages:45-55,58-60
Author(s): E MAY
Corporate Author: Correctional Information Service, Inc
United States of America
Date Published: 1975
Page Count: 14
Sponsoring Agency: Correctional Information Service, Inc
New York, NY 10017
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE GROWTH OF THE OMBUDSMAN CONCEPT IN PENOLOGY IS TRACED, AND PRISON OMBUDSMAN PROGRAMS IN MINNESOTA, CONNECTICUT, NEW JERSEY, AND NEW YORK ARE DESCRIBED.
Abstract: FOURTEEN STATES HAVE CONFLICT MEDIATORS CALLED OMBUDSMEN IN THEIR PENAL SYSTEMS. ALTHOUGH THE STATES HAVE ADOPTED THE SCANDINAVIAN INSTITUTION IN NAME, ONLY FOUR HAVE INCORPORATED POSSIBLY THE ESSENTIAL CHARACTERISTIC OF A TRUE OMBUDSMAN: INDEPENDENCE. NEW JERSEY, SOUTH CAROLINA, KENTUCKY, OHIO, AND NEW YORK EMPLOY OMBUDSMEN WITHIN THE CORRECTIONAL BUREAUCRACY. MINNESOTA AND CONNECTICUT HAVE WELL ESTABLISHED INDEPENDENT OMBUDSMEN, AND MICHIGAN AND KANSAS ARE IN THE START-UP PHASE OF SIMILAR PROGRAMS. SEVERAL OTHER STATES HAVE OMBUDSMEN WHO COVER THE ENTIRE SCOPE OF GOVERNMENTAL ACTIVITIES. OFTEN THE OMBUDSMEN PROGRAMS CONSTITUTE THE MAIN GRIEVANCE-RESOLVING MECHANISM IN THE SYSTEM. OMBUDSMEN GENERALLY AGREE THAT THEY OPERATE BEST AS AN ADJUNCT TO AN EXISTING GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE. A REVIEW OF THE MINNESOTA PROGRAM EMPHASIZES THE QUALIFICATIONS AND PERSONAL TRAITS OF THE OMBUDSMAN HIMSELF. IN 2 YEARS, THE OMBUDSMAN AND HIS STAFF HAVE DEALT WITH NEARLY 2,000 COMPLAINTS AND HAVE NEGOTIATED MAJOR POLICY CHANGES. THE CONNECTICUT OMBUDSMAN WORKS WITHOUT A STAFF. LIKE THE MINNESOTA OMBUDSMAN, HE HAS NO REAL AUTHORITY TO ORDER CHANGE BUT MUST RELY ON INVESTIGATION AND PERSUASION. THE NEW JERSEY OMBUDSMAN'S OFFICE OPERATES ESSENTIALLY AS A COMPLAINT BUREAU. ALL LETTERS FROM INMATES TO THE COMMISSIONER (APPROXIMATELY 50 PER WEEK) COME TO THE OMBUDSMAN AND HIS ASSISTANT FOR INVESTIGATION. APPROXIMATELY 50 MORE COMPLAINTS PER WEEK ARE SUBMITTED THROUGH OMBUDSMAN LETTER BOXES IN INSTITUTIONS. THE NEW YORK OMBUDSMAN PROGRAM IS THE ONLY STATEWIDE PROGRAM SERVING JUVENILES EXCLUSIVELY. WHEREAS THE NEW JERSEY PROGRAM HAS ENCOUNTERED CREDIBILITY PROBLEMS WITH INMATES, THE NEW YORK OMBUDSMEN HAVE FACED HOSTILITY FROM CORRECTIONS STAFF.
Index Term(s): Connecticut; Minnesota; New Jersey; New York; Ombudsmen
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