Justice Policy Journal - Volume 4, Number 2 - Fall 2007
From the editor
By Elizabeth Brown, Ph.D. and Randall G. Shelden, M.A., Ph.D.
From The Editors
It is with great pleasure that we introduce this issue of Justice Policy that has quite an eclectic mix of papers, but all of which are centered on forging innovative and collaborative approaches to criminal justice policy. Our lead paper explores the impact of false imprisonment on the future of the newly exonerated, and features collaboration between a falsely imprisoned former police officer, J. Scott Hernoff, and a University professor, Barbara Zaitzow. This type of collaboration is unique in the field of criminal justice, and represents exactly the type of innovative approaches to criminal justice policy that Justice Policy seeks to promote.
Our second article by Connie Ireland explores the practice of parole in California, in one of the largest and most diverse parole districts in the State. This article explores how motivated administrators sought to change the practice of parole in order to provide parolees with more opportunities to succeed. Bringing both the voices of parole agents and parolees to bear on the process, Ireland discusses the individual and structural constraints to providing rehabilitative policies that work.
Lee Hyman, in the third article, addresses the failures and successes of juvenile rehabilitation in response to a specific type of juvenile crime, the sex offender. Growing interest in sex offenses has led to unique and innovative approaches to offender treatment, and Hyman provides lessons from the state of Illinois on how a population that is often thought to be "untreatable" benefits from a combination of therapeutic and behavioral modification techniques.
The fourth article is written by a group who call themselves "convict criminologists" and who emphasize the importance of taking the perspectives of incarcerated people into account when calling for reforms of criminal justice institutions. In this final piece, the convict criminologists explore the problems with the use of women guards in male institutions and the difficulties and inhumanities that this creates for those who are incarcerated.
Finally, our issue ends with a paper written by Lee Michael Johnson. He examines jail wall drawings, and uses the artwork found in a county jail to discuss how people in jail are firmly situated within mainstream society rather than some deviant sub-population. This article provides an important insight into the nature of jail wall drawing as a therapeutic endeavor for inmates and as a way to maintain their connection to life outside the jail walls.
Together, these five articles provide incomparable insight into the incarceration process in the U.S., often bringing the much needed perspectives of those subject to these practices to bear on criminal justice policies. All of these articles are certain to stimulate conversations about the direction of criminal justice policy in the U.S., and the possibilities and potential for meaningful and just reform.
By Connie Ireland
Recent research has focused on high rates of parolee recidivism in California and examined solutions to combat this trend. Various programs have addressed criminogenic needs of parolees, including healthcare, housing, literacy, vocational and substance abuse treatment. This study uses an action research approach to examine the implementation of a Parolee Day Treatment program in a densely populated urban center characterized by crime, drugs, gang activity, and parolee failure. Parolee participants in this study, ineligible for other programs because of their serious criminal histories, discuss their need for encouragement and instrumental support, their belief that they are "on their own", and their fear about the communities in which they live. Organizational factors which undermine program implementation and parolee success are identified, including high rates of parolee, parole agent, and administration turnover; and parole centralization, leading to a disconnect between parolees and their parole agents.
By J. Scott Hornoff and Barbara H. Zaitzow
The United States criminal justice system, proclaimed as "the best in the world," has been rocked in recent years by numerous cases of wrongly convicted individuals being saved from life and death sentences or being freed from institutional settings after unjust convictions were brought to light; oftentimes meeting staunch resistance from state prosecutors until the shackles were ordered removed. While our methods of investigation, rules of criminal procedure, and appellate processes are designed to ensure that the guilty are apprehended, convicted, held accountable, and afforded rehabilitation - and that the innocent are shielded from erroneous legal maneuvers - the ideals of justice are far from the reality of its application. This paper echoes the growing call to action to right such wrongs through the words of one innocent "lifer's" experience in the black hole of the American criminal justice system.
By Lee Hyman
The following paper reviews the little discussed topic of juvenile sexual offenders as well as treatment programs that appear to demonstrate progress towards preventing sexual offender recidivism. The programs in focus, Counterpoint House and the Illinois Department of Corrections' Juvenile Sex Offender Treatment Program, are two programs that have demonstrated progress in dealing with this growing crisis. Adaptations from these programs have allowed the proposal of a new program that may better serve the needs of the offender and the public.
By Lee Michael Johnson
This essay features photographs of some interesting artwork discovered on the interior of a vacated county jail in Indiana. The artwork suggests that the human desire for creativity is strong even against the constraints of jail cell confinement. As opposed to something destructive, the artwork should imply an opportunity to strengthen efforts aimed at offender reintegration. A review of the literature suggests that artistic activities are rarely used in prisoner reentry programs and community-based corrections but receive strong support from practitioners and researchers. As part of a comprehensive approach designed to meet a variety of individual needs, creative activities may help released prisoners and community sanctioned individuals become more seriously involved in reintegration programs, more engaged in conventional activities, and therefore less likely to re-offend.
By Daniel S. Murphy, Charles M. Terry Greg Newbold and Stephen C. Richards
Women working in the male dominated "society" of men's prisons face many challenges. This study employs a convict criminology perspective to examine the different styles of "presentation of self" women implement in conducting their duties as corrections officers working in male prisons. The research asks the following questions: Do styles of presentation of self impact the effectiveness of women working as corrections officers in a men's prisons? How are women corrections officers perceived by male prisoners and co-workers? Policy recommendations are suggested to improve the efficacy of female corrections officers.
Posted in Volume 4