Correctional Institutions

By Robert Melvin Carter; Daniel Glaser | Go to book overview

31
Prisoners' Unions: A Cross-National Investigation of Public Acceptance

C. RONALD HUFF, JOSEPH E. SCOTT, AND SIMON DINITZ

A union for prisoners? What possible right could convicts have to form a union? How much prison reform can the public tolerate? Are our prisons becoming country clubs?"

These and other questions about the directions of our vast prison systems are troubling many people--people who, for the most part, have been socialized to accept without question Bentham's time-honored dictum that no prisoner should have conditions which surpass those of the poorest free citizen. This firmly entrenched axiom is at the heart of the ongoing debate over philosophies of confinement. The following excerpt from an editorial comment on prisoners' unions reflects the sentiments of at least one segment of the populace:

The talk of forming a prisoners' union . . . strikes us as the most absurd suggestion of the year. . . . That's all we need . . . inmates on a sitdown strike because they didn't like the breakfast menu, or inmates striking for higher pay or for a better bed. We've about reached the point where life inside . . . prison is better than many low or moderate income families are enduring. 1

____________________
SOURCE: Reprinted with permission from International Journal of Criminology and Penology 4 ( 1976): 331-347. Copyright by Academic Press Inc. (London) Ltd.

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