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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 97445 Find in a Library
Title: Society of Lifers (From Prison Violence in America, P 147-157, 1985, Michael Bradswell et al, ed. - See NCJ-97435)
Author(s): J P Conrad
Date Published: 1985
Page Count: 11
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: This article examines the experience of incarceration in California from the late 1940's to the present, pinpoints major transformations which have occurred in prison life, and recommends prison reforms.
Abstract: The San Quentin Prison of an earlier era (late 1940's, early 1950's) is described as having been a reasonably safe place to live and work; the prevalence of white inmates and the virtual absence of Chicano inmates is noted. Attention focuses on the modern San Quentin and Folsom prisons, which are both limited to 'level IV' prisoners -- men whose disciplinary records, long sentences, and recidivism warrants placing them in maximum security. Further, San Quentin is reported to have 1,075 inmates serving life terms with the possibility of parole and 112 serving life without the possibility of parole; the situation at Folsom is similar. The question of whether prisons can be safely managed with populations of men with decades of time to serve and bad disciplinary records is raised. Additionally, ways are suggested for making such prisons safe; for example, more guards should be hired, more metal detectors should be installed, and surprise lockdowns should be conducted. However, the insufficiency of these measures is noted, and the need for reforms in the criminal justice system is emphasized. For example, alternatives to institutionalization are advocated, and the reform of probation to become primarily punishment is recommended. Five references are listed.
Index Term(s): California; Correctional reform; Corrections management; Effects of imprisonment; Life sentences; Maximum security
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