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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 91096 Find in a Library
Title: In Fear of Each Other
Journal: Sociological Focus  Volume:16  Issue:3  Dated:(August 1983)  Pages:155-167
Author(s): S Dinitz; G Beto
Date Published: 1983
Page Count: 13
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The American prison system has become an out-of-control dumping ground for lower class losers, characterized by riots, personal violence among inmates, and alienated custodial personnel. Prisons must become lawful in policy and practice, providing a safe environment and work for inmates.
Abstract: The 1980 riot in the New Mexico State Prison represented a turning point in U.S. prison history. Unlike previous riots, there was no carnival atmosphere, no leadership, no lists of grievances, no organization, but simply unspeakable brutality. While force was once the sole prerogative of prison staff, it has become the prerogative of organized groups of inmates. Four prison riot epidemics have occurred in this country: the first, at the outbreak of World War I, led to some inmate programs and improved living conditions; the second wave peaked in 1929-30 and promoted the rehabilitation theory; the third arrived with the Korean War and continued to about 1955, resulting in more liberal policies toward inmates; and the final era of the 1960's, characterized by inmate politicization, culminated in Attica and marked the end of the rehabilitative ideal. In the last decade, the revolutionary climate has deteriorated into a simple matter of survival in a violent world. Staff fortunes have improved as inmate power waned, but guards feel isolated, estranged and embittered. Inmate solidarity is a myth, and the courts are reverting slowly to their traditional hands-off policy. Prisons predicated on incapacitating long-term offenders must first adopt the American Bar Association standards on the legal status of prisoners. They should reduce the size of maximum-security prisons and establish special facilities for the intractables. Prison industries should be expanded, and inmates should be paid fair wages. Current reformers argue for policies based on just deserts, deterrence, and incapacitation, but these doctrines will only exacerbate current problems and ensure the walled ghettos of blacks and Hispanics. Approximately 50 references are appended.
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Tranquilizers; Violent inmates
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