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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 76573 Find in a Library
Title: Normalizing the Prison Work Environment (From Justice as Fairness, P 219-234, 1981, David Fogel and Joe Hudson, ed. - See NCJ-76564)
Author(s): J Schaller
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 17
Sponsoring Agency: Anderson Publishing Co
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Sale Source: Anderson Publishing Co
Publicity Director
2035 Reading Road
Cincinnati, OH 45202
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: At the heart of the justice-as-fairness approach is the notion that prisoners must be seen as responsible for their own behavior and treated accordingly during their period of incarceration; the emphasis on responsibility and volition in normalization of the prison work setting is consistent with the justice model.
Abstract: A review of the place of work in the prison system notes that work in prison is as old as the American penitentiary itself, but the purpose of work in the prisoners' lives has shifted over the years. Initially, work was regarded as a means of preventing idleness in prisons; many prisons became profit-making organizations. During the last half of the 19th century, however, industry fought the competition and managed to pass restrictive legislation against prison products. After World War II, work emerged as a method of treatment, becoming a vehicle of reform rather than an end in itself. Perhaps the greatest contribution that the reemerging emphasis on prison labor has made to the contemporary correctional institution's environment is the normalization of the work setting; the justice model is in basic accord with contemporary approaches to prison industry. The normalization process involves a market analysis and assesment of capital requirements and resources to define the industrial program's basic structure and an evaluation of the program's operating characteristics. While structural elements determine the design of the industrial system, operating characteristics define the way in which the system is maintained. Principal operating characteristics are hours of production, compensation, relations with other prison programs, and staffing. Over the past 5 years, the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration has been very active in influencing change in prison industry operations through its funding of the Free Venture prison industry program. At its most basic level, this program attempts to replicate the outside world of business within the confines of a correctional institution; the program in the seven States funded by Free Venture are discussed. The prison industry operation that wants to contribute to the normalization of the prison environment has a fairly clear path to follow. A justice model prison industry program would be a profit-oriented business housed in a prison environment. It would attempt to attract a work force through a system of wage incentives, and it would freely hire and fire prisoners according to their work performance and the needs of the business. In short, the normal world of work would impose itself upon the prison for at least 8 hours each day, and prisoners employed therein would daily have the opportunity to mentally escape from the drudgery and emptiness that is the normal lot of those incarcerated. Ten notes are provided.
Index Term(s): Correctional industries; Inmate compensation; Inmate Programs
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