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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 82141 Find in a Library
Title: Prison Reform - Federal Role
Author(s): B McClure
Corporate Author: Congressional Research Service
United States of America
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 32
Sponsoring Agency: Congressional Research Service
Washington, DC 20540
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This paper summarizes the problems which have led to proposals for reforms of State and Federal prisons and lists the major proposals for reform.
Abstract: Many current prisons are overcrowded, outdated facilities that are understaffed and underequipped. Prisoners are often treated brutally both emotionally and physically by both staff and fellow inmates. In addition, data on recidivism show that many criminals are not being reformed by prison. Prisons need to be improved because they neither protect society from crime nor rehabilitate criminals. The direction of this reform and the source of its funding are currently at issue. Leading experts in the field have proposed greater use of community-based treatment, restitution, and fines because they are less expensive and may be more effective than incarceration. Experts have also recommended that the new prisons which are constructed should replace antiquated institutions and should be built according to guidelines recommended by nationally recognized organizations. Proposals have also been advanced for the protection of prisoners' rights and for the improvement of living arrangements, health and sanitation levels, and safety. Additional proposals are to have prison sentences fixed by the courts and not by prison officials or to have a system of presumptive sentencing. Other proposals relate to the desirability of alternative types of punishment for shoplifters, petty thieves, or persons committing 'crimes of passion,' the use of voluntary rehabilitation programs rather than mandatory programs; and the desirability of increasing incarceration to get more criminals off the streets. The Federal Government has contributed to prison reform through both the enactment of legislation which can serve as a model for the States and through financial assistance to State governments. Public Law 96-247 was approved in 1980 and permits the U.S. Attorney General to institute civil suits on behalf of State prisoners who are being deprived of their Federal constitutional or statutory rights. Lists of hearings, reports and congressional documents, and nine additional reference sources are provided. Reprints of other documents on prison reform and a list of 28 references published between 1978 and 1981 are provided.
Index Term(s): Correctional facilities; Correctional reform; Prison disorders
Note: Archived Issue Brief Number IB75077 - Updated version
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