Inside Justice: A Comparative Analysis of Practices and Procedures for the Determination of Offenses against Discipline in Prisons of Britain and the United States

By Bayard Marin | Go to book overview

Some courts have taken a dim view of certain aversive stimuli such as forcing the inmate to vomit for a fifteen-minute period for minor breach of program rules.332 Behavior modification has been the subject of congressional hearings333 and federal anticrime funds have been cut off for such programs, apparently the result of pressure from civil-liberties groups and simple failure to demonstrate effectiveness.334 Nevertheless, one can expect experimentation to continue.

An alternative which is neither cheap, easy to administer, nor noncontroversial has been implemented in Scotland. The only ground upon which it can be commended is success. The Barlinnie experiment is now well known. In March 1973, a special unit for problem and long-term prisoners335 was set up in the former women's section of that prison. A number of freedoms formerly unknown to this type of prisoner have been allowed. The men have been permitted to wear their own clothes, cook their own food, decorate their cells, keep records and books, pursue study courses, and correspond freely with the outside world. Many visitors have streamed through the unit, including this writer, and press conferences have even been held. The unit has gained some notoriety in connection with the artistic endeavors of certain inmates.336

Two concepts of the unit have very important implications for punishment practices generally: staff-inmate rapport and community responsibility. The usual barriers to staff-inmate relationships have been removed. Inmates and staff have been encouraged to talk freely. The unit has held weekly and daily meetings to encourage community responsibility. It has been said that being in "the hot seat" at a meeting was far worse than being brought before the governor for an offense.337

This writer can attest to the relaxed atmosphere in the unit and the notable accomplishments therein. Indeed, the prisoners confined in the unit at the time of this writer's visit in July 1974 had been reduced from category A. placed back in the prison system, or released--very meaningful accomplishment considering the prior dispositions of the men.338 However, one must wonder whether the entire program would travel well beyond the walls of Barlinnie. Since its opening, the unit has housed five to seven men and has been staffed by fourteen to twenty- one persons, figures which result in inmate-staff ratios totally out of harmony with generally available staffing resources for anything on a greater scale than the Barlinnie prototype.339 Furthermore, even the Barlinnie experiment has met some staff opposition and claims that prisoners might cause violence to get into the unit340--claims which have been officially denied.341 In addition, American attempts at inmate self-government have shown that inmate councils tend to be made up of manipulative "square Johns" who are not the real inmate leaders.342

Nevertheless, although the prototype may not be subject to duplication elsewhere, its underpinnings of staff-inmate rapport and community responsibility are sound. Prison officials fall back on systems of rewards and punishments precisely because they cannot count upon the sense of duty which staff-inmate rapport and community responsibility foster.343 The keys to humane means of controlling inmate behavior may very well lie in the Barlinnie project.


Conclusion

A large part of this chapter has been devoted to analysis of the various prison punishments. Most have been found wanting in some regard. On the other hand,

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Inside Justice: A Comparative Analysis of Practices and Procedures for the Determination of Offenses against Discipline in Prisons of Britain and the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • List of Tables 11
  • Foreword 13
  • Acknowledgments 15
  • 1 - Introduction 19
  • 2 - Organizational and Statutory Structure 29
  • 3 - Offenses 47
  • Notes 80
  • 4 - Punishment Practices 89
  • Notes 119
  • 5 - The Determiners 130
  • 6 - Hearings: Procedures 162
  • 7 - Judicial Review: Some Constitutional Comparisons 216
  • 8 - Judicial Review: Judicial Intervention In Prison Adjudications 224
  • 9 - Access to Remedial Sources 289
  • 10 - Remedies 327
  • 11 - Conclusion 380
  • Appendix 1 - Procedures Questionnaire 386
  • Appendix 2 - Outline for Empirical Observations 388
  • Selected Bibliography 390
  • Index 399
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