skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 71024 Find in a Library
Title: Toward a Just Correctional System - Experiments in Implementing Democracy in Prisons
Author(s): J E Hickey; P L Scharf
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 222
Sponsoring Agency: Jossey-Bass Publishers
San Francisco, CA 94103-1741
Sale Source: Jossey-Bass Publishers
989 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94103-1741
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: An approach to prison reform based on instituting democratic principles within prison was implemented in the Niantic Correctional Center in Connecticut. Successes and failures of the program after 8 years are described.
Abstract: Three major historical efforts to create democratic prison programs as developed by Maconochie, Osborne, and Studt are discussed, emphasizing both the promise and the constraints. Then a conceptual framework is offered using psychological research as philosophical criteria for the developmental reeducation of prison inmates. The intervention project at Niantic, a facility for female offenders, is then outlined. Its evolution from the concept of self-governing units as rehabilitative instruments to use of these units as laboratories that not only served inmates but also explored the inner workings of the prison is traced. The conflicts between a minidemocracy and the larger bureaucracy served to sharpen the conceptual as well as the practical inconsistencies implicit in both prison management and bureaucracies generally. The community and group meetings held concerning the program are detailed, and inmate perceptions of prison moral atmosphere and changes resulting from their participation in the democratic living units are surveyed. Preliminary results of a 2-year study indicate that self-governing units (cottages) had a positive effect on female inmates' lives after they left prison. Of the 20 female model cottage graduates, less than 15 percent returned to Niantic after 1 year with either a new charge or for parole violations. Finally, constraints in instituting a democratic system within the confines of a prison setting are reviewed. References, an index, and some tabular information are provided.
Index Term(s): Connecticut; Correctional reform; Effects of imprisonment; Inmate attitudes; Inmate peer counseling; Inmate self-government; Prerelease programs
Note: Jossey-Bass Social and Behavioral Science Series
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.