Exercise and the Low-Security Inmate: Changes in Depression, Stress, and Anxiety

Exercise has a history of alleviating depression, stress, and anxiety in various populations, but research into its effects on low-security prison inmates is limited. Inmates who were exercising or not exercising prior to the beginning of the study completed the Beck Depression Inventory II, Life Experiences Survey, and Daily Hassles Survey. Those who performed aerobic or anaerobic exercise scored significantly lower on the Beck Depression Inventory II and Life Experiences Survey than the inmates who did not exercise. Current charges were the only significant predictor of group membership. The authors conclude that the lower levels of depression, stress, and anxiety seen among the inmates suggest that exercise is a coping strategy to deal with incarceration.

Applying the Risk Principle to Sex Offenders: Can Treatment Make Some Sex Offenders Worse?

The risk principle states that higher risk offenders should receive more intensive services, whereas lower risk offenders should receive less intensive services. However, the criminal justice system routinely ignores the risk principle for sex offenders and treats them all the same with little regard for level of risk. This article explores the effects of different levels of treatment intensity on 238 sexual offenders who are on parole. The findings suggest that the risk principle does, in fact, apply to sexual offenders.

When Actions and Attitude Count Most: Assessing Perceived Level of Responsibility and Support for Inmate Treatment and Rehabilitation Programs Among Correctional Employees

In July 2006, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections began delivering a 2-hour training session titled "Reinforcing Positive Behavior" (RPB). Findings from an attitude survey showed that the training was effective for changing staff attitudes and awareness about inmate treatment and rehabilitative programs. Specific findings revealed that correctional officers, when compared with treatment staff, were less concerned about showing inmates respect and also minimized the impact of their own actions on inmate behavior and rehabilitation efforts. Policy implications and recommendations for improving the RPB training and for furthering data collection efforts during basic orientation and inside the state institutions will be discussed.

Projecting Felony Intakes to the Justice System

November 26, 2010 by Martinez, P. E.  
Filed under Going to Jail

Prison populations in this country continue to increase even during a period of decline in the crime rate. There is a need for a model that simulates how offenders are admitted, how they move in and out of the system, and how capable it is of answering "what if " type of questions. For example, what impact would it have on the prison system population if there was a policy that would result in an increase in the parole revocation rate for administrative violations? This article presents a methodology to forecast correctional admissions. Projected admissions are derived by separately projecting felony probation placements, direct court prison commitments, and felony probation and parole revocation to prison.

A Profile of Paroling Authorities in America: The Strange Bedfellows of Politics and Professionalism

November 26, 2010 by Paparozzi, M. A., Caplan, J. M.  
Filed under Going to Jail

The use of discretionary decision making in parole has been the subject of much criticism over the past three decades. Whether it is either discretionary decision making per se or the context within which such decisions are made that is problematic is unknown. This article captures a profile of how paroling authorities are organized, how their members are appointed, and the work experience, training, and credential requirements that underpin the appointment process. The importance of the relationship between professionalism and discretionary decision making is discussed. Recommendations are made for future studies addressing the relationship between professional qualifications of paroling authority members and parole outcomes.

Intermediate Sanctions in Probation Officers’ Sentencing Recommendations: Consistency, Net Widening, and Net Repairing

November 26, 2010 by Homant, R. J., DeMercurio, M. A.  
Filed under Going to Jail

To explore the role of intermediate sanctions in probation officers’ sentencing recommendations, 30 actual felony cases were selected. These cases were then randomly assigned to 10 probation officers who were experienced in writing pre-sentence investigations. Each officer reviewed a total of 9 cases; this gave a total of 90 ratings, with each case rated by three probation officers. Each officer expressed his or her preference for either a standard prison term, regular probation, or one of three intermediate sanctions: boot camp, intensive probation, and a split sentence (60 days jail followed by probation). Data showed that probation officers were in substantial agreement in their recommendations for a given case, but there were consistent differences among the probation officers, with some showing a consistent tendency toward leniency and others toward severity. The intermediate sanctions were used consistently, in that they were seen as less severe than a prison term and more severe than standard probation. In 61 of the 90 ratings, an intermediate sanction was the first choice of the rater. In 44 of these cases, the next choice was standard probation, suggesting that the intermediate sanction served a net widening (or net repairing) function; in 17 cases the next choice was prison, suggesting that the intermediate sanction served to divert from (standard) incarceration.

Officer Perceptions of Risk of Contracting HIV/AIDS in Prison: A Two-State Comparison

November 26, 2010 by Alarid, L. F., Marquart, J. W.  
Filed under Going to Jail

A theme of the late modernity perspective as applied to prisons is maximizing safety and minimizing risk in the face of an uncertain work environment. Correctional officers in two states were surveyed about how their knowledge of HIV relates to their perceptions of risk. Officers who knew less about HIV, had less formal education, feared contact with prisoners known to be HIV positive, and who viewed prisoner tattooing, intravenous drug use, and sex as common at the unit in which they worked were more likely to perceive a higher risk of contracting HIV on the job.

Problems at Work: Exploring the Correlates of Role Stress Among Correctional Staff

There is a large body of literature that strongly suggests that role stress is harmful to correctional staff. Past research has found that role stress is linked to lower job satisfaction, lower organizational commitment, greater job stress, and intention to quit. The bulk of the literature has looked at the consequences of role stress; this study examined the potential antecedents of role stress for correctional staff. While controlling for the shared effects of the personal characteristics of gender, age, position, tenure, educational level, race, and supervisory status, this study examined whether different aspects of the work environment (i.e., input into decision making, supervision, formalization, integration, job performance, and instrumental communication) were linked to role stress using survey data of correctional staff at a Midwestern prison. Ordinary least squares multiple regression analysis indicated that the personal characteristics of position and tenure had statistically significant associations with role stress. Specifically, noncustody staff and staff with higher tenure reported greater role stress than custody staff and staff with less tenure. With regard to the work environment variables, input into decision making, supervision, formalization, integration, and instrumental communication all had a significant negative relationship with role stress, whereas job performance feedback did not.

Survey of Jail Visitors About Visitation Policies

Little has been written about policies affecting the public who visit jails. As the number of jail inmates increases, many offenders’ families are affected. For the majority, their first contact with the criminal justice system might be by visiting an inmate in jail. This study measured the levels of visitors’ understanding and satisfaction with visitation policies at two county jails in a northeastern state. A total of 281 visitors from two county jails completed the surveys. Data from this study revealed that—to meet the needs of the visitors—attention should be given to methods of visiting, jail staff training, dissemination of visitation policies, and conditions of inmate incarceration. By addressing these issues, problems that visitors encounter while visiting inmates may be lessened, and their concerns about inmates may be decreased. These changes may lead to more amenable interactions between visitors and jail staff during visitation.

Editor’s Note

November 26, 2010 by Gido, R. L.  
Filed under Going to Jail

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