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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 77093 Find in a Library
Title: Last-resort Prisons for Habitual and Dangerous Offenders - Some Second Thoughts About Alcatraz? (From Confinement in Maximum Custody, P 61-68, 1981, David A Wood and Kenneth F Schoen, ed. - See NCJ-77087)
Author(s): D A Ward; A K Schmidt
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 8
Sponsoring Agency: D C Heath and Co
Lexington, MA 02173
Sale Source: D C Heath and Co
125 Spring Street
Lexington, MA 02173
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Preliminary findings are reported on the impact of Alcatraz upon its inmates.
Abstract: Until its closing in 1963, Alcatraz housed those considered the most dangerous and recalcitrant inmates in the Federal prison system. Alcatraz had an average daily population of about 250 inmates and a staff of some 150, almost all of them correctional officers and custodial administrators. The inmates knew they would not be paroled from Alcatraz; they either served their sentences to the end, died, or were transferred to other prisons where they could be considered for parole. There was no pretense at rehabilitation, since there were no teachers, vocational-training instructors, social workers, psychologists, or psychiatrists employed at Alcatraz. Despite their records of prior misconduct in other prisons, preliminary indications are that, at Alcatraz, inmates showed a far lower rate of disciplinary infractions. In Alcatraz, infractions were observed, written up, and punished with greater certainty than in other prisons. Coded up-to-date arrest records for 975 of the 1,550 inmates housed at Alcatraz were studied. Some of the men in this sample were released to the free world 40 years ago, and some were released last year. About 46 percent of the sample had no reported arrests during the 5-year period after their release from the term of imprisonment that included spending time at Alcatraz. The influence of the aging process on postrelease and prison conduct will be carefully examined in the remainder of this study. Interviews with former Alcatraz inmates who are currently serving time in the Federal prison in Atlanta indicated they preferred the predictablility and structure of Alcatraz to the Atlanta prison, where many view prison life there as being more violent and unpredictable than at Alcatraz. Notes are provided.
Index Term(s): Determinate Sentencing; Federal correctional facilities; Inmate attitudes; Inmate discipline; Maximum security; Recidivism
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