Gregory L. Crawford
CJ101: Introduction to Criminal Justice
Module 5: Inmate Matters
I remember when growing up in southwest Ohio, hearing about prisons and prisoners. And in particular, watching television programs on the life of criminals while incarcerated. I recall one specific documentary depicted the life of an inmate as being tolerable, where the inmate had a place to sleep, received three hot meals a day, had medical care, education, recreation, and was even paid for jobs inside the prison. Numerous relatives saw the same program and seemed upset about how good conditions were inside of our prison system, arguing prisoners were better off than many Americans. They held prisoners should not have access to these amenities and they should endure hardship while in prison to pay for the crimes. They believed rigors of prison life should be enough to dissuade them from ever committing a crime again that would be their rehabilitation.
At the time, I believe this is what many Americans perceived. However, later in life I became aware of the rehabilitative programs offered to inmates, so upon their release from prison they would become a contributing member of society. Three programs I believe are relevant and equally important in today’s prison system are education, UNICOR or vocational training, and substance abuse treatment.
The life of a prisoner was very different from that of today’s prisons. The prisoners were treated as animals and considered less of a human because of their lawlessness. They were made to right the wrongs that they have committed either through “physical pain applied in degrading, often ferociously cruel ways, and endured mutilation, or was branded, tortured, put to death; he was ...
Unfortunately, education or the lack of may be the reason many inmates are in prison. Most inmates probably dropped out of high school and lacked the basic skills to escape poverty or their environment. Many fell in with the wrong crowd or gang, beginning their downward spiral. I am not saying you need to be a rocket scientist to escape your environment, but just basic knowledge is a key to getting at least an unskilled job until they can get something better. However, many stop there and never attempt to improve their status or position.
But, I am convinced that many of the problems our young offenders have, could have been corrected at home with proper nurturing from their parents. So, without the proper nurturing, children sought it elsewhere, with many becoming gang members or criminals.
In 1934 President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 6917, establishing the Federal Prison Industries (FPI), Incorporated and from it, sprang UNICOR. (Factories with Fences 2009) Part of UNICOR’s mission is to employ and provide job skills training to the largest practicable number of inmates incarcerated within the Federal Bureau of Prisons. While I believe education and substance abuse programs are important in the rehabilitation of inmates, vocational training provides the inmates with hard skills necessary to secure and hold a job once released. Hands on experience in this case is just as important as finishing their GED.
I believe inmates who participate in prison education, vocation and work programs have lower recidivism rates than those of non-participants. And those who do not participate will be a repeat offender, unable to break the cycle of crime and punishment.
Our reading revealed that each Federal prison has its own education department that provides education and recreational activities to Federal inmates. Additionally, while BOP inmates have access to a variety of educational programs, literacy education receives the highest priority. With few exceptions, a prisoner who does not have a GED credential must take part in a literacy program for a minimum of 240 instructional hours or until they earn a GED credential. (BOP)
Others see it as being biased towards a certain kind of social or ethnical group, and even gender groups, while another crowd might argue that it is actually fair for everyone. A specific group could say that some forms of education can be meaningless, while others possibly will interpret it in a wrong way, although a group of scholars might find a deeper meaning for it. Ken Kesey, author of “One ...
I am absolutely convinced education in prisons is as beneficial as it is necessary. It makes sense to me that inmates who participate in prison education programs are less likely to be repeat offenders and go on to be good contributors to society
I believe a well designed substance abuse program that uses effective program elements and is implemented carefully can reduce relapse, criminality, recidivism, inmate misconduct, and behavioral disorders. Additionally, these programs will increase the level of the inmate’s stake in society’s norms, increase levels of education and employment upon return to the community, and improve physical and mental health as well as relationships.
We cannot go back to the way things were before we had these rehabilitative programs, where the concept of prison reform is replaced by policies that are punitive and in favor of permanent incarceration versus rehabilitation. If we as a society fail to initiate or continue these programs, then we are as guilty as the criminal for not providing the tools necessary for them to survive and prosper in today’s society.
Bohm, Robert M. & Haley, Keith N. (2010) Introduction to Criminal Justice.
Conflict Theory. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
Education and Vocational Training. Retrieved March 5, 2010 from
Bureau of Prisons (2010) Inmate Matters. Retrieved March 5, 2010 from