Is Corrections Ready for TQM?

By Simonsen, Clifford E.; Arnold, Douglas G. | Corrections Today, July 1994 | Go to article overview

Is Corrections Ready for TQM?

Simonsen, Clifford E., Arnold, Douglas G., Corrections Today

American business is undergoing a revolution in management. This new method of leadership has a number of different names: Total Quality Management (TQM), Total Quality Improvement, World$Class Quality and several other titles centered around the word "quality."

TQM is probably the most recognizable of these latest buzzwords and seems to be the most widely used by seminar salespeople and management writers. The basic concepts of TQM have been derived from the work of W. Edwards Deming, the management guru credited with bringing about the recovery and ascendancy of Japanese business in the last half century.

Can Deming's famous "14 Points" be applied to criminal justice operations, and in particular to corrections? This article discusses the need for quality management in corrections and the aspects of TQM that are applicable to our field.

The Public's Call For Quality and Value

TQM may not have the same immediate appeal to correctional administrators as Management by Objectives, Management by Results and many other techniques that have been touted in the past. But while these programs promised quick results, they had dismal records and generally failed because they used quotas or numerical objectives dictated from the top and involved only management-derived measures of success. Such techniques were geared toward creating quick, short-term results by simply doing more of the same, or the same faster. Because "the same" did not meet management's goals in the first place, more of it didn't bring about improvement.

A classic example from the private sector is the apathy American automobile manufacturers showed toward the fact that their cars did not meet the needs and desires of American consumers. Rather than improving the quality and value of American automobiles, they increased production of low-quality cars that guzzled gas and didn't last. It was only when Japanese car manufacturers, using TQM concepts, began to cost them billions of dollars in unsold cars, recalls, rebates and other failed efforts that the total quality movement finally began to be explored and adopted. American car makers now seem to have gotten the point and are slowly winning back customers by offering higher quality and value.

In corrections, we have seen various reports and studies in recent decades that have called for improved quality and productivity. These studies, while having merit, did not foresee the crowding and violence in today's prisons. Rising crime rates in America put us as correctional managers in a tough situation. If we cannot improve quality and productivity, we lose support for our programs. Likewise, if we cannot develop ways to know what our clients want or need and to explain why we can or cannot meet those goals, we lose support as well.

Local and state officials and taxpayers who are dissatisfied with crime control in America urge us to do something. They don't know what we should do, but they do know that what we are doing now seems too expensive and ineffective. Corrections must find a way to do more with what we currently have or we may soon find ourselves trying to do more with less.

Budget reviewers are beginning to demand that we better identify our clients and demonstrate how we are responding to their needs in some logical and measurable way before they will agree to give additional support to more improvement promises. Exploring TQM is only one way to address this quandary, but it has shown great promise in the private sector, where the bottom line is the ultimate measure.

There is no profit-oriented bottom line for government agencies, but there is a bottom line that relates to budgets. Private industry bases its bottom line on profit after expenses. This is easy to measure and clear to all. Most government agencies, on the other hand, develop a projected budget and are allocated funds based on some rationale of how their service is to be delivered using that budget. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Is Corrections Ready for TQM?


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    New feature

    It is estimated that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia, and in an effort to make Questia easier to use for those people, we have added a new choice of font to the Reader. That font is called OpenDyslexic, and has been designed to help with some of the symptoms of dyslexia. For more information on this font, please visit

    To use OpenDyslexic, choose it from the Typeface list in Font settings.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search


    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.