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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 44139 Find in a Library
Title: THOMAS MOTT OSBORNE AND THE LIMITS OF DEMOCRATIC PRISON REFORM
Journal: PRISON JOURNAL  Volume:57  Issue:2  Dated:(AUTUMN-WINTER 1977)  Pages:3-15
Author(s): P SCHARF; J HICKEY
Corporate Author: Pennsylvania Prison Soc
United States of America
Date Published: 1977
Page Count: 13
Sponsoring Agency: Pennsylvania Prison Soc
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: THE HISTORY OF THE MUTUAL WELFARE LEAGUE AT SING SING PRISON IS TRACED AS AN ILLUSTRATION OF THE CONSTRAINTS ON PARTICIPATION BY INMATES IN PRISON DECISIONMAKING.
Abstract: THE DISCUSSION OPENS WITH A REVIEW OF EDUCATIONAL, POLITICAL, MORAL AND LEGAL RATIONALES FOR DEMOCRATIZING PRISONS. THE EXPERIMENTAL INTRODUCTION OF THE WELFARE LEAGUE CONCEPT BY THOMAS MOTT OSBORNE IN 1913 AND THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE CONCEPT AT SING SING PRISON IN NEW YORK FROM 1914 TO 1916 ARE DESCRIBED. THE PROJECT INVOLVED THE FORMATION OF AN INMATE COURT AND GRIEVANCE COMMITTEE, WHICH ADJUDICATED INTERNAL DISCIPLINARY OFFENSES AND INMATE COMPLAINTS. THE MUTUAL WELFARE LEAGUE'S EXPERIENCE TYPIFIES THAT OF MANY OTHER EFFORTS TO DEMOCRATIZE PRISONS AND THEREFORE SUGGESTS CERTAIN CONSTRAINTS ACTING AGAINST SUCH REFORM PROGRAMS. AMONG OBSTACLES TO PRISON DEMOCRACIES ARE THE FOLLOWING: THE TENDENCY TOWARD DOMINATION BY INMATE 'ELITES'; FAILURE OF PRISON ADMINISTRATORS AND OTHER PERSONNEL TO SUPPORT DEMOCRATIZATION; CONFLICT BETWEEN CIVIL LAW AND PRISON DEMOCRATIC DECISIONMAKING; PUBLIC SKEPTICISM WITH REGARD TO PRISON DEMOCRACIES; BUREAUCRATIC CONSTRAINTS; AND THE ESSENTIAL POWERLESSNESS OF INMATES. CHANGES NEEDED IF PRISON DEMOCRATIZATION IS TO BE POSSIBLE INCLUDE LEGITIMIZING DEMOCRATIC PARTICIPATION IN TERMS OF THE LEGAL RIGHTS OF INMATES, CREATING PRISONS ARCHITECTURALLY DESIGNED TO ENCOURAGE DEMOCRATIC INTERACTION, EXTENDING FULL CITIZENSHIP TO INMATES, TRANSFORMING PRISONS INTO ECONOMIC ENTITIES IN WHICH INMATES SHARE IN THE PROFITS, INCLUDING STAFF MEMBERS IN THE DEMOCRATIC PROCESS, AND RECOGNIZING THE EXISTENCE OF ETHNIC, POLITICAL, AND OTHER GROUPS IN PRISONS. A BIBLIOGRAPHY IS INCLUDED.
Index Term(s): Inmate discipline; Inmate grievances; Inmate organizations; Inmate Programs; Inmate self-government; Inmate staff relations; Penology; Reform
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=44139

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