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NCJ Number: 67742 Find in a Library
Title: AT STATEVILLE (IL), THE CALM IS TENSE
Journal: CORRECTIONS MAGAZINE  Volume:61  Issue:3  Dated:(JUNE 1980)  Pages:6-10,15-19
Author(s): K KRAJICK
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 10
Type: Historical Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: ILLINOIS' STATEVILLE PRISON HAS SUFFERED FROM REPRESSIVE WARDENS, INMATE UPRISINGS, AND OVERCROWDED CONDITIONS. CURRENT REFORMS HAVE RESULTED IN AN UNSETTLING CALM.
Abstract: OPENED IN 1925, STATEVILLE COVERS 65 ACRES AND IS SURROUNDED BY A 32-FOOT WALL. IT IS THE ONLY PRISON IN THE U.S. BUILT ON THE 'PANOPTICON' PLAN; THE PRISON CELLHOUSES ARE ROUND; EVERY CELL HAS A WINDOW TO THE OUTSIDE, THEORETICALLY MAXIMIZING LIGHT AND VENTILATION. AN ARMED GUARD IN A CENTRAL TOWER CAN SEE INTO EVERY CELL. HOWEVER, THE EFFECT OF THE ROUND CELLHOUSES IS DISORIENTING AND NIGHTMARISH, AND NEITHER AIRY ATMOSPHERE NOR TIGHT SUPERVISION HAS BEEN ACHIEVED. AFTER 10 YEARS OF OPERATION, THE PRISON WAS HOUSING 4,000 INMATES RATHER THAN ITS PLANNED 1,600. IN THE 1920'S THE PRISON WAS WRACKED WITH RIOTS AND KILLINGS. IN 1935, A RURAL SHERIFF TOOK OVER AND RAN THE PRISON FOR 25 YEARS WITH THE MOST REPRESSIVE ROUTINE KNOWN IN THE WORLD AT THAT TIME. HE MAINTAINED A SPOTLESS PRISON, INSTRUCTED IMATES TO MARCH IN STRAIGHT LINES WHEN MOVING ABOUT THE PRISON, AND PROHIBITED INMATE-STAFF COMMUNICATION. EARLY 1960'S COURTS DECISIONS AND SOCIAL CHANGE SHIFTED THE PRISON'S EMPHASIS FROM DISCIPLINE TO REHABILITATION. IRONICALLY, MANY OF THE WORK PROGRAMS THAT HAD BEEN MOST SUCCESSFUL IN MAINTAINING DISCIPLINE WERE DISCARDED FOR EDUCATIONAL AND VOCATIONAL PROGRAMS THAT COULD NOT ACCOMMODATE THE TREMENDOUS PRISON POPULATION SURGE IN THE 1970'S. BY 1978, CONDITIONS AT STATEVILLE HAD DETERIORATED TO UTTER ANARCHY, WITH INMATES LITERALLY RUNNING THE PRISON. STAFF TURNOVER WAS 110 PERCENT PER YEAR, AND INHUMANE PRACTICES WERE BEING USED AGAINST THE WEAKER PRISONERS. A NEW DIRECTOR OF CORRECTIONS, APPOINTED IN 1979, HAS SUCCEEDED IN ATTAINING A SEMBLANCE OF CONTROL, WHERE BASIC NEEDS (SHOWERS, LAUNDRY, FOOD) ARE ONCE AGAIN SUPPLIED TO ALL INMATES; SOME FULL-TIME ACTIVITIES, EDUCATION, AND INDUSTRIES ARE OPERATING AGAIN; AND GUARDS AND STAFF SUPERVISE THE INMATES INSTEAD OF THE REVERSE. NEVERTHELESS, 650 OF THE 2,000 INMATES ARE WITHOUT PROGRAMS, MUCH OF THE ATMOSPHERE IS THAT OF STRICT DISCIPLINE, AND EVERYONE OPERATES UNDER CONSIDERABLE TENSION. PHOTOGRAPHS ARE INCLUDED.
Index Term(s): Correctional institutions (adult); Correctional reform; Corrections management; Illinois; Inmate discipline; Prison disorders; Violent inmates
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http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=67742

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