SAGE Journal Articles

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Article 7.1

Stohr, M. K., Hemmens, C., Kifer, M., & Schoeler, M. (2000). We know it, we just have to do it: Perceptions of ethical work in prisons and jails. The Prison Journal80(2), 126-150.

Determining what the appropriate behavior is in any given circumstance is not always clear in corrections work, given the nature of the tasks, the composition of the clientele, and the structure of the organization. In an effort to determine what correctional staff regarded as ethical behavior, the authors developed and administered a questionnaire to correctional staff in several prisons and jails in a western state. In this article, the authors report their findings from the effort to quantify the degree to which staff agree and disagree in their perceptions of ethical choices. They found that jail and prison staffs are more likely than not to perceive their work from an ethical perspective. The findings also indicate that although both types of facilities were in the top range of possible responses on the ethics summary variable, the jail staff were more likely to score higher. Finally, age increased the likelihood that a respondent had a higher ethical rating in jails, and being female increased such a score in prisons.

Article 7.2

Reisig, M. D., & Pratt, T. C. (2000). The ethics of correctional privatization: A critical examination of the delegation of coercive authority. The Prison Journal80(2), 210-222.

Privatization in the correctional setting takes many forms. This article focuses on an extreme variant of correctional privatization—privately owned and operated facilities—and critically examines the philosophical argument used to legitimate the practice. Among the more problematic features identified include a reliance on an interpretation of liberal theory that muddles the distinction between rights and authority, and confusion regarding the libertarian conceptions of the ultra-minimal and minimal state. As a result, the attempt to justify the delegation of coercive authority from the state to private agencies is questioned. The authors attempt to advance ongoing debate by discussing one method for identifying what privatization alternatives are consistent with liberal theory’s conceptions of the individual and the state’s authority to punish.

Article 7.3

Iannacchione, B., Collins, P. A., Hudson, M., Stohr, M. K., Hemmens, C., Thayer, J., & Brady, K. (2015). Ethics in a mountain state county jail. Criminal Justice Policy Review, 26(6), 555-574.

This research was conducted to identify and explain factors that shape staff and inmate perceptions of ethical behavior within a correctional setting. Prior research has found that staff do perceive high levels of deviance among their peers, but this varies by both the facility (jails were perceived as more unethical) and staff characteristics, with female and older staff perceiving their workplace as more ethical. The current research attempts to expand this line of study by surveying both inmates and staff on their perceptions of staff ethics within a jail in a mountain state jail. This research first examines what the general perceptions are among these two populations in regard to staff ethics. Second, it answers the question of whether perceived differences exist and how they vary between staff and inmates in regard to staff ethical behavior.

Article 7.4

Gumz, E. J. (2004). American social work, corrections, and restorative justice: An appraisal. International Journal of Offender Therapy and Comparative Criminology, 48(4), 449–460.

Social work played an active role in American corrections until the 1980s when the ethic of rehabilitation began to give way to a more conservative doctrine of retribution. Changes in the field of social work, characterized by preference of social workers to work only with certain populations, contributed to social work’s diminishment in corrections. Although efforts at rehabilitation continue in corrections, the concept of restorative justice that emphasizes assisting victims, communities, and offenders in dealing with the consequences of crime is gaining acceptance in the field of corrections in the United States and in other countries. This study explored social work’s presence in corrections, the decline of that presence, and how the concept of restorative justice can invigorate social work within the field of corrections. Several examples of social work’s contemporary efforts to use the concept of restorative justice in the United Kingdom are presented.

Article 7.5

Powers, R. A., Kaukinen, C., & Jeanis, M. (2017). An examination of recidivism among inmates released from a private reentry center and public institutions in Colorado. The Prison Journal, 97(5), 609–627.

In this study, we examine comparative rates of recidivism for Colorado inmates released from a private reentry center and public facilities. Using a sample of 6,102 inmates released from 2008 to 2012, we measure overall recidivism and recidivism for a new crime. Applying a quasi-experimental methodology, we find that overall rates of recidivism are comparable. Prior to matching, 46.8% of the treatment and 61.3% of the comparison group recidivated, and the difference is statistically significant. However, after matching on relevant covariates, the difference was reduced to non-significance. In contrast, those released from the private facility are more likely to return to prison for a new offense. Approximately, 14% of those in the private facility committed a new crime compared with 9% pre-matching and 8% post-matching. Despite these modest differences in the rate of recidivism, the overall time to return to prison is comparable between the groups.