Proposed Prison Improvements
If I had a budget of $150,000 there are a variety of improvements which I would make to my prison. These funds would be allocated to a programs aimed at improving to all aspects of the prison system. First and foremost, resources would be set aside for special programs for the inmate population; these would be programs which promote their rehabilitation with an eye to future reintegration into regular society. My second initiative would be directed to the guard staff and would be aimed at upgrading their overall security and working conditions within the actual prison. Finally, I would set aside funds to improve the physical structure of the prison facilities with improvements made to inmate recreation and overall security of this medium security jail. A budget of $150,000 would be spent with three goals in mind: a 1) renewed focus on inmate programs, 2) improvements to staff working conditions and finally 3) physical improvements to the security of the prison.
Inmate rehabilitation has always been an important goal of my prison. With recent cuts in federal funding to inmate counseling services and vocational programs aimed a preparing the inmate population for future reintegration into society, an injection of funds to important inmate programs would be enthusiastically received by both my staff as well as by the attendant inmate population.
There are many important programs for inmates and money would be allocated towards specific programs geared towards the overall improvement of inmate lives, both within the prison system as well as outside as members of the wider community. We currently offer a drug and alcohol counseling service which focuses on addressing the underlying causes of alcohol and drug dependency. These are presently group counseling services – Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) remains one of our most popular programs – and many of the groups are overcrowded and with long waiting lists. In addition to AA, Cocaine Anonymous or CA is another important program which could use some extra funding. I would propose to break up the current AA and CA groups into smaller, more intimate counseling sessions and would also increase the consistency of their regular meetings. Currently each group meets twice a month for two-hour sessions. I would like to double the frequency of AA/CA meetings and have weekly sessions, possibly with a longer duration. I would also keep the option open of extending those two-hour sessions, particularly if the counselor on hand feels that it would be worthwhile to spend more time tackling these particularly challenging addictions amongst the prison population.
Race relations within my prison are at an all time low. This is actually not usual and has been documented as an important trend in prisons across the world (Genders & Player, 1989). Although gangs have always existed within the prison culture, there is a disturbing trend with regards to increased acts of racial violence perpetuated by Black, White, Asian and Hispanic gangs within the prison setting. White skinhead groups have always existed in my prison but there is an increased diversification of skinhead organizations and subgroups within the prison culture. Their attacks have been especially violent of late and have been directed towards black and especially Hispanic inmates. What I propose are race relations programs –sort of multicultural training – which tackles the persistent racism of some members of our prison population with the goal of racial harmony in mind. Classes may also be offered in Spanish in an effort to reach out to Hispanic gangs and the large Spanish-speaking population within the prison.
Improvements must be made to the overall conditions of our staff at the prison. Our staff are in important frontline positions in the prison and their security and well-being must remain an important priority of the prison Administration. Corrections Officers (CO) have been subject to recent attacks and improvements to their overall position within the prison should focus on making their lives more secure and their position less vulnerable to assault.
In a variety of jurisdictions, there have been calls for Corrections Officer to carry tasers to better protect themselves. From the state of Oregon to the country of New Zealand, tasers are slowly being implemented as part and parcel of a CO’s personnel gear and I would like to encourage their use in my prison (Moran, 2008; “Inmate Fight”, 2008). Tasers are wonderful tools for prison guards because they are non-lethal weapons which have the ability to immediately subdue and incapacitate violent inmates. Last year’s rioting may in fact have been prevented had our COs been equipped with tasers to quell the initial disturbances which led to the rioting.
In addition to tasers, guards would also be fitted with the latest protective gear including special resistant vests and other upgrades to their current weaponry. The protection of COs and their personal safety within the prison setting is always an important consideration within my prison.
Physical Structure of Building
Finally, our building is old and is in dire need of repair to improve the overall functionality and security of the prison. Physical improvements would include removing and replacing the barbwire around our prison and as well upgrading the camera security system along the perimeter. Upgrades to the security of the inmate recreation facilities are necessary and probably long overdue. My prison holds the distinction of not having a successful escape since the late 1950s and I am determined to maintain our excellent 50+ year track record. Furthermore, a recently book entitled The Society of Captives: A Study of a Maximum Security Prison (2007) will help inform future improvements made to the physical structure of this particulart prison.
From an administrative perspective, $150,000 will go a long way in improving the conditions of the inmate population, the working conditions of the guard staff, as well as the overall physical structure and security of the prison environment. I am grateful for these extra resources and have developed a three-pronged strategy to put this additional money to use. By focusing on inmate programs, improvements to staff conditions as well as to physical improvements of the prison itself, my decision to spend this extra money has been guided by a comprehensive approach to overall prison management and improvement.
Genders, E & Player, E. (1989). Race Relations in Prison. London: Oxford University Press.
Inmate fight prompts call for guards to be armed with tasers (2008, August 07).
New Zealand Herald. Retrieved August 15 2008 from http://www.3news.co.nz/Inmatefightpromptscallforguardstobearmedwithtasers/tabid/423/articleID/66079/cat/64/Default.aspx
Moran, J. (2008, August 15). Suspects Take Police Taser Use Seriously. The Register-Guard, p. 4.
Sykes, G. M. (2007). The Society of Captives: A Study of a Maximum Security Prison. New York: Princeton University Press.