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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 78263 Find in a Library
Title: Prisons in Turmoil
Author(s): J Irwin
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 298
Sponsoring Agency: Little, Brown and Co
Boston, MA 02106
Sale Source: Little, Brown and Co
34 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02106
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This analysis of the social organization of the prison examines how inmates cope with prison, inmate systems of social order, and the influence of administrators and policymakers on these systems. It also traces historical developments in penology from the early 1900's.
Abstract: Prisons are separated into three types according to their social organization. The 'Big House' dominated the first half of this century after prison reforms eliminated most corporal punishment and hard labor. These walled prisons were characterized by large cell blocks, formal and rigid daily routines, and administrators whose duties were primarily keeping order, managing prison industries, and supplying inmates with necessities. Correctional institutions replaced the Big House in many States after World War II. Established on principles of rehabilitation, they had these common elements: indeterminate sentencing, inmate classification, and treatment programs. The author focuses on Soledad Prison, of which he is a former inmate. The discussion reveals the feelings of cooperation and unity that accompanied the initial rehabilitation movement and led to peace and order within the prison. Radical divisions within the inmate society have since taken place, characterized by the black prisoner movement, racial violence, and prisoner reunification. These and the prisoner's 'revolution' of 1970-75 resulted in administrative reaction against prisoners' political activities. Both the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals and the new 'critical' criminologists played a role in trying to implement a new and ultimately unsuccessful type of solution--community corrections. Most prisoners, however, have not been released to their communities; they are now in third-phase institutions, contemporary prisons. This type is characterized by a complex and fragile social order based on racial divisions, violence, and the formation of small, hostile inmate cliques. In a concluding chapter on trends and recommendations, a new system of control over prisoners is suggested whereby all parties (including prisoners and guards) have input into the rules and conditions of work and confinement. Footnotes and an index are included, and two appendixes contain lists of inmate demands made at Folsom and Attica prisons and a plan negotiated between the Prisoners' Union and the California Department of Corrections during 1974-75.
Index Term(s): Attitudes toward authority; Black/African Americans; Community-based corrections (adult); Correctional institutions (adult); Inmate attitudes; Inmate classification; Inmate compensation; Inmate discipline; Inmate grievances; Inmate hustling; Inmate personal security; Inmate political affiliation; Inmate Programs; Inmate segregation; Inmate staff relations; Prison disorders; Prisoner's rights; Punishment; Racial discrimination; Riot causes; Violent inmates
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