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Prison Sentences: Alternatives to Hard Time Lauren A. Shapiro Introduction to Forensic Psychology May 5, 2012 Dr. L. Brodie

. According to 2006 evaluations. While some of these elaborate programs seemingly appear to be solutions to the problem. however. with this annual cost increasing by about $19. It currently remains unknown as to why these programs have not achieved widespread use.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME Abstract 2 Incarceration is the number one way felons and other criminal offenders are punished and rehabilitated in the United States. while. Several programs have been established as alternatives to hard time and to potentially reduce recidivism rates in released inmates. their results are consistent and undeniable: they work.000 since 2001.203.102 a year to incarcerate an inmate in a California state prison.747.000 was spent on corrections while 2009 estimates indicate that it costs an average of $47. others that have resorted to more concrete solutions have achieved significant success. over $68. they have failed.

. This explains why the United States has the highest documented rate of incarceration in the world (Walmsley. distribution and consumption of illegal drugs (West.292.747. This staggering number means that approximately 1% of the adult population or 743 of every 100.203.S. with this annual cost increasing by about $19. Sabol. an undertaking by the US government to reduce the illegal drug trade through the establishment of drug policies that discourage the production. over $68. Bureau of Justice Statistics. While crime rates have declined approximately 25% between 1988 and 2008.000 American adults were incarcerated at the end of 2009 (Walmsley.000 since 2001 (Bureau of Justice Statistics. 2010). According to the U. This increase has been attributed to the War on Drugs. 2. 2010). 2009). 2010). Given the current state of the economy.000 was spent on corrections while 2009 estimates indicate that it costs an average of $47.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME Prison Sentences: Alternatives To Hard Time 3 Incarceration is the number one way felons and other criminal offenders are punished and rehabilitated in the United States. 2009). the operating costs of incarceration and recidivism rates. According to 2006 evaluations.102 a year to incarcerate an inmate in a California state prison. the United States has experienced a surge in its prison population with estimates suggesting that it has quadrupled since 1980. & Greenman.133 adults were incarcerated in US federal and state prisons and county jails at the end of 2009 (Glaze. critics have begun to question whether cost-effective and alternative means of incarceration should be implemented in American prisons.

000 inmates. arguing that public safety is priceless and that a flourishing prison population is further proof of this fact. 2003). Some argue that we live in a "society of prisons" and as a result. California has 33 prisons with a total capacity for 100. According to investigations. and public assistance for the poor and dependent children" (Welch. 200 prisoners. Undoubtedly. 2003). For example. In fact. government spending is exorbitant (Conley. social programs. states spent more than $34 billion on prisons. in 1999. Analyses of government spending prove that corrections is the fastest growing area of the public sector.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME 4 Rates Advocates have spent the last several decades fighting for "tough on crime initiatives". From 2000 to 2008. . An adjustment for inflation reveals that since 1982. 2009). 1977). the state prison population increased by 159. they maintain that locking up individuals convicted of minor offenses keeps these so-called criminals from committing more serious offenses (Welch. this is an increase of 122% (Butterfield. however. with violent offenders accounting for 60% of this increase and 22% of all prisoners (state and federal inmates) convicted of drug-related charges. Furthermore. 2002). more than a 70% surplus (Moore. Compounding this issue is the fact that most prisons in the United States are severely overcrowded (Human Rights Watch. 2003). "many states are now spending more on corrections than on higher education. current estimates suggest that California prisons are currently housing over 170.000 inmates.

argue that the primary flaw in this model was that convict rehabilitation was secondary to the primary concern: economics (Welch. and provide a way for prisoners to "pay back" their debt to society" (Wilson. In other words. factory production and exploiting the labor of inmates to profit and/or defray the expenses of incarceration is formally known as the Auburn model (Conley. 2003). aid in the operation of the prison. especially since the vast majority of inmates are 5 nonviolent offenders. inmates can help build the institutions that house them and they can even work in prison factories to pay for the cost of their incarceration. Gallagher. The Current Problem The belief is that inmates could and should work for the benefit of the State. Humanitarians. prison work programs "help manage the population by occupying the time of the prisoners. create revenue. Based off a penitentiary established in Auburn. & MacKenzie. The Auburn model was originally established in hopes of solving the problem of inmate idleness as well as an implementable and potentially profitable way to ease the taxpayer's burden. An integral part of the debate on relying heavily on prisons is the fact that eventually all nonviolent prisoners return to the community where their . 2001). a population who have been demonstrated to have lower rates of recidivism in the first place.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME this is a disturbing trend. Unlike other programs intended to rehabilitate offenders. 1977). however. NY in the early twentieth century.

or otherwise) that lands these individuals into prison in the first place. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (2010). by offering prison-based work programs. 2003).200-2. These numbers beg to question whether it is lack of work (due to education. Kling and Tyler show that incarcerated offenders in Florida averaged about $1. Worse. after years of imprisonment. and only two-thirds of inmates were employed during the month before they were arrested for their current offense". often resort to crime and other self-destructive behaviors. . 2003). "only 59% of state prison inmates had a high school diploma or its equivalent (compared to 85% for the adult population as a whole). would lead to a reduction in crime and recidivism.000 a year in formal labor market earnings prior to incarceration (Bushway.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME problems originated. Studies have resulted in fairly strong empirical evidence that suggests that an individual's criminal behavior is responsive to employment circumstances and that lack of work is highly correlated with crime (Bushway. it must be noted that incarceration as a control tactic for 6 reducing crime is riddled with contradictions and may actually serve to worsen the situation (Welch. 2003). Based on these findings. Most incarcerated individuals have extremely low levels of education and a very limited pool of job skills and resources. with few opportunities to improve their circumstances upon release. often with violent offenders and other criminals. Thus. lack of skills. many have begun to question whether improving the poor work outcomes of offenders. ex-cons typically impaired by the debilitating effects of prison life and.

in spite of all these precautions and painstaking measures. The program established partnerships with the New York City Department of Homeless Services to find housing for inmates. time and time again. Yet.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME Prison Work Programs Based on the high rates and the substantial costs associated with ex- 7 convicts who unsuccessfully re-enter their communities. that this type of program has consistently demonstrated positive results in reducing offender recidivism.. Programs like Project Greenlight. as a result. would affect subsequent criminal behavior" have been proven ineffective despite seeming like perfect solutions to the problem (Wilson J. 2007).. A. 2007). many have begun to question the effectiveness of hard time and have begun advocating for proper rehabilitation and social resources (Wilson J. the program failed to improve participants' postrelease outcomes. Project Greenlight emphasized cognitive-behavioral skills training because previous research has demonstrated. psychoeducation seminars were provided to inmates and their families and classes to develop practical skills like obtaining Medicaid coverage were offered. This failure led individuals to question .. A. counselors matched inmates with employment opportunities. 2007). A. inmates were required to attend drug education and relapse prevention classes. which was "designed to emphasize specific services that would improve certain interim quality-of-life outcomes and. Greenlight staff worked on an individual basis with each inmate to establish a release plan which included establishing connections with community-based organizations and introductions to parole officers (Wilson J. Furthermore.

and had lower recidivism rates than those who did not work or those who worked in traditional correctional industries (Wilson. yields benefits for when they are released (Moses & Smith. inmates are finally able to acquire the skills they need to secure productive employment upon release and avoid recidivism. these programs typically "(1) work with inmates to identify vocational interests and aptitudes. education. or a job that simulates the real world.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME 8 whether "money might be more effectively spent on job training. & Baker. These programs. . The study concludes that offenders who worked for private companies while incarcerated were more likely to obtain employment once released. 1990). and (4) helping inmates secure post-release employment" (Lattimore. Witte. In addition. Other names for these work-based prison programs include. having a real job with real pay. (2) develop individual plans of study for improving vocational skills. while incarcerated. The theory behind these prison-based work programs is that by obtaining work experience in specific industries. 2001). Despite Project Greenlight's failure there is still hope. correctional programs and factories behind fences. 2007). Findings from an evaluation funded by the National Institute of Justice suggests that when individuals are incarcerated. (3) providing the identified training as well as other needed services. inmate labor. Gallagher. courts and police officers outside the community" (Welch. & MacKenzie. and family services in poor neighborhoods with high crime rates rather than exporting those funds to prisons. maintained employment longer. 2003).

unlike Project Greenlight. These programs. First and foremost.have existed for more than 150 years (Moses & Smith. 2007). PIECP encourages State and local correctional facilities to establish alliances with factories and private companies to provide inmates with real work opportunities that simulate jobs that they might potentially have upon release (Moses & Smith. support family members. and improve the prospects for prisoners' successful transition to the community upon release" (Wilson J.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME 9 despite their underuse and demonstrated results. workbased prison programs . PIECP "seeks to generate products and services that enable prisoners to make a contribution to society. created by Congress in 1979 is called the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program (PIECP). PIECP allows individuals who are incarcerated to be employed by a private employer in a "free world" occupation and earn the current minimum wage. increase inmate job skills. One such program. 2007). In fact. . are not new. they tend to encounter the same significant barriers they faced prior to incarceration. PIECP also seeks to reduce prison idleness.. obtain positive results since they do release offenders from prison into the same circumstances under which they entered: lacking practical job skills. possessing few economic resources and have little to no access to social service providers. offset the cost of incarceration. and compensate crime victims. A.programs in which inmates are supervised by prison staff or private factories under supervision and work for a modest sum . 2007).

The results showed that PIECP workers who were released back into their communities following the conclusion of their sentence had significantly lower rates of rearrest. conviction.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME 10 To establish further evidence of their effectiveness. The added benefit of this program is that the program allows a percentage of PIECP wages to be saved for the inmate upon their release. 2007). The researchers measured recidivism rates for three groups. . Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance to fund the first national evaluation of PIECP. Although the findings of this study are not entirely conclusive and may reflect selection bias. PIECP workers. Traditional Industry workers and non-workers using the traditional measures of incarceration success: new arrest. A. The study's authors found that. the National Institute of Justice teamed with the U. individuals who participated in the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program found jobs more quickly and held them significantly longer than did other inmates who opted not to work under PIECP and were released back into their communities. 2007). and incarceration than offenders who were in the Traditional Industries and non-work groups (Moses & Smith. approximately 55 percent of workers who participated in PIECP obtained gainful employment within the first three months following their release (Moses & Smith. the wages earned by Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Program participants during their incarceration benefitted taxpayers in addition to helping the inmates themselves (Wilson J. upon release. 2007). conviction and incarceration..S. they are positive. According to the study. however. Most importantly.

Furthermore. PIECP participants also acquire post-release jobs more quickly.102 a year to incarcerate an inmate in a California state prison. Federal and State governments must take decisive measures to . victims.000 every 7-8 years. Given the current state of the economy.000 spent on corrections and estimates which suggest that it costs an average of $47. with this annual cost increasing by about $19. Not only do inmate PIECP wages benefit inmates. that alimony and child support payments are paid. With over $68. and families but they also assist the State in paying for the exorbitant costs of incarcerating inmates. 2007). Conclusion The research definitely suggests that the Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Programs have been successful.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME 11 however.203. the operating costs of incarceration and increased recidivism rates are clearly unsustainable. and that the inmate has resources to fall back upon when they have completed their prison sentence (Moses & Smith. retain these jobs longer. and return to the criminal justice system less frequently and at a lower rate than inmates who worked in Traditional Industries or opted not to work at all during their incarceration (Moses & Smith. the vast majority of the wages are paid back to the State to cover the cost of the inmate's room and board. 2007). taxpayers. why Prison Industry Enhancement Certification Programs have not been more widely implemented in the face of their demonstrated success. these programs ensure that restitution is paid to the victim.747. It is a wonder then.

offset what has become an increasingly heavy burden on taxpayers. or at the very least. .PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME 12 turn incarcerated inmates into profitable individuals.

(1977). L. A14. J. Moses. (2007). August 4). and profit: Reconsidering the importance of prison industries.. & Baker. 133155. F. Washington. J. Census bureau's annual government finance survey and annual survey of public employment. p. Bushway. (2009. (2010). (1990). C. Human Rights Watch Backgrounder . England: International Centre for Prison Studies. Factories behind fences: Do prison 'real work' programs work? National Institute of Justice Journal . E.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME References Bureau of Justice Statistics. Feburary 11). Washington. Walmsley. World prison brief. Glaze. DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Understanding the nexus between prisoner reentry and work. London. Evaluation Review . Study finds steady increase at all levels of government in cost of criminal justice.. 2009. 13 Conley. Moore. Milwaukee. S. Butterfield. S. California prisons must cut inmate population. DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics. Witte. (2009). Correctional Populations in the United States. (2002. The New York Times . P. Prisons. M. Lattimore. Human Rights Watch. New York Times . Experimental assessment of the effect of vocational training on youthful property offenders. Washington. Incarcerated America. J. (2003). (2010). (2003.. & Smith. Wisconsin: Unpublished. production. A. 32-35. . A. April). DC: The Urban Institute. C. R.

Gallagher. J. D. 227-240... H. . M. Sabol. 347-368. Wilson. 14 West. Prisoners in 2009. National Institute of Justice Journal. (2001). A meta-analysis of corrections-based education. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency . L. J. Department of Justice.PRISON SENTENCES: ALTERNATIVES TO HARD TIME Welch. D. Washington..S. J. Wilson. Contemporary Justice Review . 2-7. DC: U. & MacKenzie. A. W. (2003).. C. B. (2010). Habilitation or harm: Project Greenlight and the potential consequences of correctional programming. S. (2007). Force and fraud: a radically coherent criticism of corrections as industry. vocation and work programs for adult offenders. & Greenman. A. C.