...

The Civically Engaged Inmate: Ariane Rockoff-Kirk

by user

on
Category: Documents
8

views

Report

Comments

Transcript

The Civically Engaged Inmate: Ariane Rockoff-Kirk
The Civically Engaged Inmate:
Participation in Prison Programs in the United States
Ariane Rockoff-Kirk
Haverford College
Political Science Department
2011
Dedication
I dedicate this project to the incarcerated clients and their families whom I worked
with while interning this past summer for the Orleans Public Defenders Office in New
Orleans Parish and to the inmates I had the opportunity to meet at Angola State
Penitentiary, Louisiana. You inspired this work and I hope I have done your experiences
justice with my research. Through the use of prison programs I trust inmates will
continue to find their voices.
I would like to thank my advisor, Zachary Oberfield. Throughout the challenges
you helped me maintain my vision; your patience and guidance assisted me in the
completion of this thesis. I apologize for not making it easy. I wish to thank Jonathan
Lanning who not only taught me statistics but also helped steer me through the data
analysis. Many thanks to the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship for the research
grant enabling me to work with the Orleans Public Defenders office where the concept
for this project was born. My deep appreciation goes to Haverford College and the
Department of Political Science for giving me the tools to pursue my goals. Finally, I
want to thank my family for your unwavering love and support, I love you.
Table of Contents
Introduction .................................................................................................................................... 1
Part 1: American Political Participation ...................................................................................... 3
Voting ........................................................................................................................................... 4
Political/Civic Organizations........................................................................................................ 5
Town Hall Meetings ..................................................................................................................... 7
Beyond the Scope of Conventional Political Participation........................................................... 7
Resources, Mobilization and Motivation.................................................................................... 10
Part II: Inmate Participation in Prison Programs .................................................................... 15
Overview of the American Prison System: 1970’s to the Present .............................................. 15
General Prison Statistics - 2004.................................................................................................. 20
Prison Programs.......................................................................................................................... 21
Prison Unions ......................................................................................................................... 24
Inmate Advisory Committees ................................................................................................. 26
Jaycees.................................................................................................................................... 28
Prison Industries and Work Programs .................................................................................... 29
Prison Lawyering Program..................................................................................................... 32
The Role of Religious Organizations in Prison ...................................................................... 33
Prison Education Programs .................................................................................................... 34
Scared Straight Programs ....................................................................................................... 36
Part III: Research Design ............................................................................................................ 36
Data Collection and Study Design.............................................................................................. 36
Research Model .......................................................................................................................... 37
Independent Variables ................................................................................................................ 39
Dependent Variables .................................................................................................................. 41
Limitations.................................................................................................................................. 44
Part IV: Findings .......................................................................................................................... 45
Descriptive Statistics .................................................................................................................. 45
Regressions and Analysis ........................................................................................................... 45
Discussion................................................................................................................................... 66
Part V: Conclusion ....................................................................................................................... 68
Theoretical Implications ............................................................................................................. 70
Practical Implications ................................................................................................................. 72
Works Cited .................................................................................................................................. 74
Introduction
Political participation provides the fundamental way for individuals to engage in the
process of democracy. In theory, elected government officials represent the opinions of citizens
involved in political practice. Although political process in the United States initially limited
voting and representation to include only white males over the age of eighteen, the country
slowly expanded to include a larger demographic. In the context of American democracy,
political scientists and the American electorate regard voting as the paramount means of political
participation. Other types of political participation include membership in political organizations
and taking part in political activities.
Verba, Brady, and Scholzman define political participation as an activity that: “…affords
citizens in a democracy an opportunity to communicate information to government officials
about their concerns and preferences and to put pressure on them to respond.” 1 They outline
three necessary factors for participation to occur: access to resources, mobilization and
motivation. Deriving from these principals I adapt their definition of political and civic
participation to include the intent or effect to challenge or bolster current power dynamics.
Individuals who take part in such actions are “…seeking to bridge the growing gap between
them and their political processes and institutions through substantive political participation that
goes beyond voting and engaging with political parties.” 2 This definition broadens the scope of
which activities can be considered political participation and is not limited solely to members of
the American electorate. To categorize political participation based mainly on an individual’s
1
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in
American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (p. 37)
2
Pahad, Dr. Essop. “Political Participation and Civic Engagement: Citizens and the State” Progressive
Politics 4.2 (2005) Web. <www.policy-network.net/uploadedFiles/Publications/.../Pahad-final.pdf>. (p.
21)
1
ability to vote is to fail to see the larger scope of political and civic engagement. In this paper I
seek to expand upon Verba, Brady, and Scholzman’s widely accepted classification of political
participation and to explain political participation and civic engagement within an
unconventional group, prisoners in state and federal penitentiaries.
Inmates were selected for this study due to the unique circumstances that set them apart
from society. According to theoretical analysis, detained individuals are generally not classified
under traditional guidelines as individuals who would be expected to take part in politics.
However, the research included in this study seeks to examine why some inmates in federal and
state penitentiaries may possess political and civic power through their participation in prison
programs. Despite the fact that in some states prisoners have lost their right to vote, participation
is possible because organizations that enable political action are not only found outside prison
walls. In the environment of prison inmates can maintain their capacity to express their political
viewpoints through participation in programs and organizations that may have been unavailable
to them before they were put in prison due to inadequate resources, lack of motivation or an
inability to mobilize. Applying the theories of Verba, Brady and Scholzman, this paper examines
the propensity of inmates to participate in what I would define as political and civic actions.
This thesis examines the political engagement of inmates involved in prison programs,
which have the potential to alter the social and political status for individuals both in and out of
prison. When seen in this way, prison activities are important political actions. Understanding the
factors behind political participation offers the prospect of improving a prisoner’s civic and
political involvement after release.
2
Part I: American Political Participation
Historically, within the United States, there is an economic hierarchy that plays a large
role in identifying which individuals are more likely to participate politically. In addition to
financial resources the gauge that predominantly represents an individual’s likelihood to
participate includes free time, influence from individual groups that one is already a part of,
passion about a particular issue, education levels and religious involvement. 3 “A more complete
definition of political action would include not only citizen’s attempts to influence government –
as voters, constituents, litigants, and clients-but also their extra governmental efforts in social
movements, disruptive protests, and informal community actions.” 4 Such participation takes
place in a system where individuals can share their opinions and responses to
government/community actions. 5 Voting, contributions or work in political organizations,
educational pursuits, membership in religious institutions, and attendance at Town Hall meetings
are significant means of involvement. Political participation gives voice to those capable of
engaging in civic and political activities.
The more often people participate the greater number of opportunities they have for their
opinions and viewpoints to be implemented or at least have their perspectives engaged in the
scope of American political debate. Individuals lacking key resource components are often kept
separate from those without limitations resulting in a polarization between those who have and
3
Leighley, Jan E. “Social Interaction and Contextual Influences on Political Participation>” American
Politics Research 18.459 (2011) 459-75. Web. <http://apr.sagepub.com/content/18/4/459.full.pdf>.
4
Soss, Joe. Unwanted Claims: The Politics of Participation in the U.S. Welfare System. Ann Arbor:
University of Michigan, 2002. (p. 8)
5
Ibid (p. 48)
3
those who lack the vital resources. The resource poor are frequently marginalized in their ability
to make political and social progress. 6
Traditionally, involvement in political activities referred to actions that bore a direct
effect. By expanding the scope of what is viewed as political behavior, this paper reflects a
broader concept of what it means to participate. The following section will examine the role of a
number of participatory activities. It will also address the ways that less conventionally viewed
forms such as education and religious institutions offer an opportunity for political participation
to take place.
Voting
For those who do not hold a large percentage of resources, yet possess the desire to be
civically engaged, voting is one form of political participation. According to the United States
Constitution, voting is an intrinsic right of all citizens over the age of eighteen. For convicted
felons in some states, however, the right to vote is taken away with their conviction. Such
disenfranchisement is widely debated due to the impact it has isolating millions of people from
the political process. This has caused them to loose their right to be heard in the democracy with
which they still live. 7 A citizen’s right to vote, seen as crucial to the democratic process, is
defined as inalienable and, in theory, is not meant to limit the voice of the American people, but
rather engage them in a political dialogue in which their opinions are acknowledged through
individual and collective actions. “Voting is an instrumental act to elect one candidate and not
another, but it is also a mass ritual, and failure to engage in it suggests declining fervor for the
6
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in
American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (p. 32)
7
Rottinghaus, Brandon. “Incarceration and Enfranchisement: International Practices, Impact and
Recommendations for Reform.” International Foundation for Election Systems (June-July 2003) 1-46.
Web. <http://felonvoting.procon.org/sourcefiles/RottinghausDisenfranchisement.pdf> (p. 28)
4
religion of democracy.” 8 The practice is a feasible, though not always utilized option for those
that fall into the resource poor category. Once a citizen registers to vote their only commitment is
on Election Day. While the act of voting does not require a large obligation of time to make an
informed decision, individuals might wish to spend additional time researching candidates and
party issues. This is not, however, a prerequisite to exercising the right to vote.
The process of voting relies on majorities of people with a shared viewpoint to make any
significant change or action on an individual’s behalf. With widespread support for a candidate
or political issue, citizens within a democracy can express their opinions regarding policies and
encourage a response from government officials and major political actors. According to the
Gallop Polling Organization, individuals with a high level of concern with the political process
and continued engagement with the topics being discussed are the ones most likely to act in the
upcoming elections. 9 Due to the cumulative nature of the process there is little room for the
unique opinions of individuals to come forward. Given this, alternative forms of participation are
vital for an individual’s viewpoints to be heard. 10
Political/Civic Organizations
Political and civic organizations are classified as groups directly involved with political
parties and specific issues. They have political motives and use their organization to further these
ideas. The role of such groups is to inspire voters and motivate individuals to become involved in
the political process. The organizations lack however, the ability to recruit a larger percentage of
8
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in
American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (p. 300)
9
Newport, Frank. “How Do You Define ‘Likely Voters’?” Gallup.Com – Daily News, Polls, Public
Opinion on Government, Politics, Economics, Management. Gallup, 23 May 2000. Web.
<http://www.gallup.com/poll/4636/how-define-likely-voters.aspx>.
10
Schudson, Michael. The Good Citizen: A History of American Civic Life. New York: Martin Kessler,
1998. (p. 299)
5
community members because they require time and/or money for one’s membership to have a
meaningful impact on the political decision-making process. The actions of political parties
define much of the participatory trends amongst organizations’ members and encourage their
participation in other similar or auxiliary groups that have the same values and beliefs.
Political philosopher, Alexis de Tocqueville describes citizens as individuals seeking to
join with political organizations. He presents the idea that political associations provide the
foundation for sharing ideologies. “A political association draws a number of individuals at the
same time out of their own circle: however they may be naturally kept asunder by age, mind, and
fortune, it places them nearer together and brings them into contact. Once met, they can always
meet again.” 11 Individuals who involve themselves in political organizations are often citizens
with impassioned viewpoints and preferences about what policies are put in place. 12 Those that
only possess membership but are unable to do anything to influence the organization’s efforts
may end up feeling disengaged and therefore, sometimes choose not to participate. These
intrinsically limiting factors tend to reserve organizations of this nature for those considered
resource rich in monetary and/or leisure time. The decision to support a political organization
even in the most passive of manners can be an example of political activity on the part of citizens
who choose to engage in such groups. 13
11
De Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Democracy in America. Gutenberg Ebook, 21 Jan. 2006. Web. <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/816/816-h/816-h.htm>.
12
Gramsci, Antonio, and Joseph A. Buttigieg. Prison Notebooks. Vol. 2. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1992. (p. 173)
13
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism
in American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (p. 59)
6
Town Hall Meetings
The importance of Town Hall meetings is made clear by their presence in the democratic
philosophy of John Stewart Mills who states that: “…Only by participation at the local level and
in local associations that the individual could ‘learn democracy.’” 14 Today, within small
communities Town Hall meetings continue to maintain strong political significance. The
centralized meeting place offers individuals a forum with which to discuss typically localized
matters but also issues of state, regional and national importance. Those that participate in the
Town Hall activities begin to acquire political participation skills. “The citizen who goes to the
polls, attends a demonstration, or writes a check does not need to be especially articulate or wellorganized or to be capable of exercising leadership. In contrast, activists who contact public
officials, work in campaigns, serve on local boards, or work with others on community problems
(or who accompany a contribution with a communication or attempt to organize a
demonstration) will be more effective if they are skilled.” 15 Unlike the singular act of voting in
general elections, participation in organizations and particularly Town Hall meetings builds an
individual’s public voice, one that has addressed political issues within the context of their
communities.
Beyond the Scope of Conventional Political Participation
Most political theorists frame political participation as the act of engaging in a political or
civic activity. Political scientist Robert Putnam identifies participation through the act of voting.
“Voting and following politics are relatively undemanding forms of participation. In fact, they
14
Pateman, Carol. Participation and Democratic Theory. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1970.
(p. 38)
15
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism
in American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (p. 44)
7
are not, strictly speaking, forms of social capital at all, because they can be done utterly alone.” 16
One’s ability to make political actions independent of others fits directly into the classic
definition of political participation. Considering the traditional boundaries under which political
participation is defined, education and religious institutions do not fit neatly into the category of
political behaviors. Yet, both activities have a significant impact in shaping an individual’s
potential to be a participant. They influence political participation in similar ways because they
teach practices and encourage lifestyles that value participation.
Individuals who possess higher levels of education learn through their schooling the
importance of civic and political engagement and are more likely to view their political role as
important to American democracy. “Civic skills are acquired throughout the life cycle beginning
at home and, especially, in school. Investigations of citizen political participation in democracies
around the world inevitably find a relationship between education and activity.” 17 Also of note is
the indication that education may prove to strengthen an individual’s feelings of responsibility
towards society and lead to a decrease in criminal activities. “…Education raises the opportunity
cost of crime and the cost of time spent in prison. Education may also make individuals less
impatient or more risk averse, further reducing the propensity to commit crimes.” 18 Education in
the context of political participation must be seen as political for the role it plays in teaching and
engraining political practices amongst students.
The role of education in building stronger communities and more civically minded
citizens is of principal importance to the process of increasing engagement in politics. It is
16
Putnam, Robert D. Bowling Alone. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000. (p. 37)
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism
in American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (p. 305)
18
Lochner, Lance, and Enrico Moretti. “The Effects of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison
Inmates Arrests, and Self Reports." Oct. 2003. Web. <http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/~moretti/lm46.pdf>.
(p. 27)
17
8
through education that a sense of civic responsibility is built. 19 Additionally, students from
underprivileged areas who achieve higher levels of education are more likely to be given the
tools to move beyond the hindering factors that have inhibited their families and other members
of their community. 20 The recognition of what possibilities exist, which is the foundation of
education, raises an individual’s propensity for political action.
Along with education, religious institutions can act as strong entities influencing
participation in civic and political activities. Houses of worship and religiously based community
groups play a significant role in the ways their members participate in political programs.
Association with a religious institution is frequently the catalyst for participation in other
activities. “…Americans are more likely to be affiliated with a religious institution, to attend
services, and to take part in educational, charitable, or social activities in conjunction with their
churches.” 21 Different programs made accessible to individuals through their religious
affiliations encourage people to work together on behalf of their belief system or to function as a
community under the umbrella of their religious organization. Religious groups discuss current
political agendas, important community problems and provide opinions and direction on how to
address issues both inside and outside of the religious center. “Voluntary activity in both the
religious and secular domains outside of politics intersects with politics in many ways.” 22 The
overlap between religious institutions and political activism is considerable. The regimented
practice of attending a group and interacting with the same group of individuals fosters a shared
19
Quintelie, Ellen. “The Effect of Schools on Political Participation: A Multilevel Logistic Analysis.”
Research papers in Education: Policy in Practice 25.2 (2010): 137-54. Informaworld. Web.
<http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/section?content=a906730427&fulltext=713240928>.
20
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism
in American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (p. 112)
21
Ibid. (p. 18)
22
Ibid. (p. 40)
9
sense of public worth and influence. People who feel a deep connection with religious
institutions may have a desire for self and community betterment. They are more likely to take
on actions, often times political ones, in order to create a state that is better suited to their
interests and belief systems. 23 This ripple effect fostered in the setting of religious meetings can
lead to other activities that have a direct impact on political and civic participation.
Religious institutions and the process of education can enhance motivations for political
participation. Religious groups can tread on the American democratic principal that outlines
separation between church and state. Yet, both of these forms of participation lay the foundation
for strong civic involvement and for this reason need to be viewed alongside traditional modes of
political participation as activities that engage citizens both politically and civically.
Resources, Mobilization and Motivation
There are a series of reasons why individuals choose to involve themselves in political
programs. Studies such as the one conducted by Verba, Brady and Scholzman suggest that
American’s give three reasons for why participation is stagnant or non-existent. “Three answers
immediately suggest themselves: because they can’t, because they don’t want to; or because
nobody asked.” 24 The access to resources, while not a guarantee to ensure political participation,
eases the process of involvement.
Resources and one’s ability to access them can enhance or restrict participation for
individuals who wish to engage in politics. Political participation practices such as voting,
attending protests and other time-centered activities are limited to those that can access the time
23
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in
American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (pp. 117-118)
24
Ibid. (p. 15)
10
to take part. For members of society who lack adequate resources participation presents a more
significant challenge. Therefore, individuals desiring participation must possess some resources
along with their personal motivation. If citizens do not hold financial resources then they are
limited to actions involving their time. In society, individuals without financial resources tend to
have less free time since “spare” time may actually be used performing other tasks viewed as
necessities. Time can polarize those that have large amounts of social capital and those who are
without.
The transformative nature of financial resources makes monetary wealth a valuable
commodity. Activism in the form of financial donations can have a significant impact based on
the size of the contribution. Donating money can eliminate the need for an individual’s
expenditure of time as well as the effort needed to learn the intricacies of issues to participate
effectively in a non-monetary manner, yet it places an individual within powerful social circles.
Policy-makers ignore more easily those who donate time to causes or political activities than
those who give substantial monetary donations. 25 The ability to overlook time active individuals
suggests that the weight given to financial participation over physical participation is staggering.
Devaluation of time over money further isolates those who lack fiscal resources because it can
diminish how they view their effectiveness. Lower socioeconomic groups may be marginalized
by the power of financial donations in politics. Without the capabilities to provide financial
donations individuals tend to have less representation. 26 Deficient financial resources coupled
with a lack of free time may lower political participation levels among impoverished individuals.
Despite these obstacles, those who end up participating politically may view their decision to
25
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism
in American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002.. (p. 46)
26
Ibid. (p. 196)
11
participate as a critical aspect of their democratic thinking and as a feature of their responsibility
as members of the citizenry.
Unlike financial resources, the acquisition of education can be considered an equalizing
factor for those that are not in other ways exposed to political participation opportunities.
Schooling can play a vital role encouraging participation, however, given the disproportionate
qualities in available education, not all individuals have equal opportunities. For those who
currently fall into the category of disadvantaged or less educated, political participation can be
more difficult. “The gap in overall participation between college graduates and those who never
finished high school is also wide.” 27 But if individuals can overcome these barriers and utilize
the academic resources available they may be capable of increasing their likelihood to
participate. “…Education plays an important role in this process of resource accumulation: not
only is education itself a resource for politics, but those with high levels of educational
attainment are likely to be slotted into the kinds of prestigious and lucrative jobs and
organizational affiliations that provide further political resources.” 28 Education can be a catalyst
to community organizing and improvement. 29
Mobilization or the ability to organize provides a way in which individuals can attempt to
have their interests represented and can establish dialogue around pertinent issues. In doing so,
individuals can coordinate with other members of society who share their interests to pressure a
political response from the government or relevant policy groups. 30 Groups can hold power. The
27
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism
in American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (p. 206)
28
Ibid. (p. 18)
29
A case of this can be seen in the Harlem Children’s Zone established in the Harlem section of New
York City by Geoffrey Canada who integrated education into community improvement programs.
30
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism
in American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (p. 1)
12
combination of a statistically significant number of individuals with a passion around a particular
issue increases the likelihood of producing social and political rewards. In addition, groups help
establish a strong sense of community, which can be relied upon to achieve shared goals. It is
through these community ties that individuals are more likely to expand their participation
efforts.
“Overall, personal connections form the underpinnings for a large
share of these requests [to participate in an organization]; nearly
half arise from someone the respondent knows personally – either a
close friend or relative (24 percent) or a more distant acquaintance
(23 percent); just under a third emanate from a circle of secondary
ties- friends of friends (11 percent) or others whose names are
recognized (20 percent). Just under a quarter (23 percent) come
from strangers.” 31
Perhaps by joining new groups or increasing their participation to include alternative
organizations, individuals with connections and affiliations progress trends in participation.
Unions, are a good example of political mobilization, they hold strong influence in
current political dialogue. Becoming a member of a union, automatically engages individuals in
acts of political participation. They fight to improve work place standards, increase pay scales,
and argue for member benefits. As a large body of organized individuals they influence the
political system. Unions can promise to provide votes, bodies and support to specific candidates
and political issues. Resource weak individuals have been able to capitalize on the strong voice
given to them within the structure of the union. Without giving up substantial portions of their
resources members can have an active and even dominant role in politics. Unionization has
expanded political opportunity for those often marginalized by other societal limitations. “…A
labor movement that had for nearly a century been dominated by white males was becoming
31
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism in
American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (p. 140)
13
more diverse, with a larger proportion of African Americans now enrolled in unions than was the
case among whites.” 32 The expansion of unions to minorities has marked a major change in the
potential for participation amongst members of diverse groups within America.
Additionally, religious institutions offer individuals the opportunity to rally together
under a shared ideology. It is often through the environment of communal opinions that
individuals can engage. The nature of religious institutions is that discourse is enabled by the
members’ recognition that they share an array of opinions and common goals. Their discussions
and communal dialogue have clear correlations to voting practices. “If they attend religious
services regularly, they probably will vote Republican by a 2-1 margin. If they never go they will
likely vote Democratic by a 2-1 margin.” 33 Religious groups tend to encourage participation in
other organizations including those that stem from religious affiliation. Although particular
churches, synagogues and congregations have a tendency to embody populations from similar
socio-economic backgrounds, religions as a whole are not based on financial or social status and
therefore, can enable people who are unengaged due to inabilities triggered by inequality. “Only
religious institutions provide a counterbalance to this cumulative resource process. They play an
unusual role in the American participatory system by providing opportunities for the
development of civic skills to those who would otherwise be resource-poor.” 34 Religious
institutions provide the opportunity for individuals to gain new skills that make participation
32
Zieger, Robert H., and Gilbert J. Gall. American Workers, American Unions: The Twentieth Century.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. (p. 245)
33
Ibid. (p. 433)
34
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism
in American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002. (p. 18)
14
more plausible. Civic knowledge and civic skill sets learned in the setting of religious
participation at times provides the catalyst for political participation. 35
The sources through which Americans gain awareness about political issues includes the
Internet, television, community groups, news publications, literature, and word of mouth. Each
has the power to motivate people into politics. Once an individual cares deeply about the
outcome of a particular issue they are likely to speak about it actively and engage with others
who share their viewpoint on the matter. The decision to invest either time and/or money into a
political issue is increased by one’s interest in the outcome. An individual’s effort to achieve
what they view as the desired solution leads to a willingness to attempt more involved modes of
participation. “Thirty-four percent of the sample reported having initiated contacts with a
government official. In addition, about a sixth reported having worked informally with others in
the neighborhood or community to try to deal with some community issue or problem.” 36 Since
participation is a volunteer activity involvement plays an important role. Without interest in the
particular issue motivation is both challenging and unlikely.
Part II: Inmate Participation in Prison Programs
Overview of the American Prison System: 1970s to the Present
The existence of jails and prisons in the United Sates is a direct reflection of trends in
policies. In the mid-to the late 1700s the concept of what a prison represented and the purpose of
prisons in America took a major shift. During this period, Quakers in Philadelphia pushed
forward a prison reform movement that was drastically different from the policies previously
35
Verba, Sidney, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic Voluntarism
in American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002.. (p. 282)
36
Ibid. (pp. 50-52)
15
established. These facilities were viewed as centers for reform. Inmates were involved in work
programs that in theory were designed to develop their ideology and modify their behavior.
These facilities eventually faced pressure from government officials and were forced to change
their focus to accommodate the rising need for prisoner housing. 37
Time in prison is mandated or assigned depending on the nature of the violation.
However, due to the flexibility in many sentences and the power of a judge to determine
punishment for those found guilty, the amount of time an individual is sentenced reflects, within
the bounds of the existing statute, the will and desire of the assigning judge. Beginning in the
1970s trends towards harsher sentencing led to an expansion in the overall prison population. 38
Imprisonment became a mainstay of the American judicial system. “From 1970 to 1980 the
population of the prisons of the United States doubled; from 1981 to 1995 it more than doubled
again, so that a crisis of crowding overwhelmed the prison systems, both federal and state.” 39
Throughout this period, crime rates maintained the same levels indicating that the increased
numbers of individuals being housed in state and federal penitentiaries stemmed from a rise in
arrests leading to convictions and an overall move towards increased sentencing. “While the
crime rate has fallen over the last decade, the number of people going to prison and jail is
outpacing the number of inmates released.” 40 The major influx of individuals continues to
overwhelm the prison system leading to mass overcrowding. The rise in the number of prisoners
37
“Walnut Street Prison.” Net Industries. Net Industries. Web.
<http://law.jrank.org/pages/11192/Walnut-Street-Prison.html>.
38
Western, Bruce. “The Politics and Economics of the Prison Boom.” Russell Sage. Princeton University
and Russell Sage Foundation. March 2005 Web.
<http://www.russellsage.org/sites/all/files/u4/Western_Politics%20%26%20Economics.pdf>. (p. 1)
39
Morris, Norval, and David J. Rothman. The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of Punishment
in Western Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. (p. 211)
40
The Associated Press. “Nation’s Inmate Population Increased 2.3 Percent Last Year.” The New York
Times. The New York Times, 25 Apr. 2005. Web.
<http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/25/politics/25prison.html>.
16
incarcerated has also led to a series of other implementation problems and has begun to decrease
the ability for state and federal facilities to provide the rehabilitative and even basic services
initially expected of state run detention centers.
Ensuring that each facility was adequately equipped with enough housing for all inmates
was a problem in and of itself. During the 1970s very few states had individual cells for inmates
and often they would be forced to share small quarters with other prisoners. 41 As harsher
sentences and increases in rates of arrest leading to conviction ensued, the Justice Department
was faced with a unique problem. To maintain the new standards of punishment yet protect the
most basic human rights, the judicial system was forced to place caps on prison populations. To
meet the new federally mandated regulations, prisons had to implement early release programs
for inmates that had yet to complete their sentences. 42
The expansion of inmate populations coupled with the federal focus on ensuring turnover
in prisons to allow the maximum number of individuals to pass through was a shift in the goals
of penitentiaries. This affected strong structural change. “The most common prisons are the overcrowded prisons proximate to the big cities of America; they have become places of deadening
routine punctuated by bursts of fear and violence. Nor is there a clear trend in either direction:
traditional, massive prisons and modern, smaller prisons both proliferate.” 43As a result, state and
federal facilities have become reliant on inmate led initiatives for many prison programs. In
contrast to the enormous security budgets for the ever-growing number of detention facilities the
funding and support for prison programs involving education and rehabilitation are often the first
41
McKelvey, Blake. American Prisons: A History of Good Intentions. Montclair, NJ: P. Smith, 1977.
(p.176)
42
Morris, Norval, and David J. Rothman. The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of Punishment
in Western Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. (p. 219)
43
Ibid. (p. 202)
17
cut by fiscal reforms. Since 1975, prison programs saw a significant decline with the drop in
rehabilitation as the noted purpose for penitentiaries. 44
The funding for prison programs experience a sharp decline when states view prisons
merely as places for punishment and a housing unit for those serving time. Inmates were very
vocal about the need for strong prison programs that would offer outlets for inmates to garner
new skills and allow them to voice their concerns about their current environment.
“Over the years the quality and the range of these programs have
varied greatly. Before 1975, while the rehabilitative ideal was still
the dominating ideology in penology, there were extensive
educational and vocational training programs. In California, for
example, during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, basic elementary
and high school classes taught by certified instructors in
classrooms similar to those in outside public schools existed in all
the prisons.” 45
As individuals outside of prison began to fight with policy-makers for reforms and an increase in
national funding for programs such as education and civic organizations in their communities,
inmates and vocal outsiders began to ask for the same things behind prison walls. “During the
1970s, there was a national movement to offer college classes in prison and they received AAs,
BAs, and in some instances MAs. In addition, there were extensive vocational training
programs.” 46 Vocalized need for these curriculums did lead to some changes and the
establishment of education programs in select detention centers.
Funding can be a significant barrier for modifications to take place in the program
offerings at state and federal detention centers. Today, prisons are one of the most expensive
government sponsored institutions. With costs that have exponential growth potential,
government owned and operated facilities are constantly searching for new ways to enhance
44
Irwin, John. Lifers: Seeking Redemption in Prison. New York: Routledge, 2009. (p. 79)
Ibid. (p. 79)
46
Ibid. (p. 79)
45
18
security while keeping costs low. “The justice system cost a total of $112 billion in 1995, $430
for each American.” These costs are continuing to grow while American policy-makers, by and
large are not looking to cut spending from prisons. The justice system alone employs over two
million people annually all of who have a vested interest in maintaining large spending budgets
for American prisons. 47 “States have shown a preference for prison spending even though it is
cheaper to monitor convicts in community programs, including probation and parole…” 48 With
the energized political and social movements of the 1970s the rise in the general prison
populations can be considered a direct reaction from policy-makers fearful of growing crime
rates.
During the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, there was a massive influx of AfricanAmericans into the penal system. Since that time the prison system has become commonplace
for black males. “Black men are eight times more likely to be incarcerated than Whites and large
racial disparities can be seen for all age groups and at different levels of education. The large
Black-White disparity in incarceration is unmatched by most other indicators.” 49 The cycle of
marginalization is perpetuated by the current system of incarceration. Unequal arrest and
conviction rates for minorities have continued past the mid-twentieth century into the present
day. “In the United States as a whole, the differential rate of imprisonment of African-Americans
to Caucasians, proportional to population, is an excess of 7.5 to 1. The differential rate of
imprisonment of those with Hispanic surnames in proportion to Caucasians is about 5 to 1.” 50
47
Frey, William H., Bill Abresch, and Jonathan Yeasting. America by the Numbers: A Field Guide to the
U.S. Population. New York: New Press, 2001. (p. 189)
48
Moore, Solomon. “In U.S. prison Spending Outpaces All but Medicaid.” The New York Times. The
New York Times, 2008. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/world/americas/03iht03prison.20546833.html>.
49
Western, Bruce. Punishment and Inequality in America. New York: Russell Sage, 2006. (p.16)
50
Morris, Norval, and David J. Rothman. The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of Punishment
in Western Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. (p. 214)
19
The reality of prison’s influence on African American communities throughout the country is
best explained through a statistical understanding of prisons.
General Prison Statistics – 2004 51
The population of America’s prisons in 2004 reflects on both current and past
government policies. At that time a very large number of inmates were in prison on drug charges.
With the expansion of mandatory sentencing for drug offenders the number of inmates held in
prison created problems of overcrowding. These issues were carried over from the changes in
regulations that came in the 1960s and 70s. Additionally, inmates charged with non-drug
offenses were also facing extended sentences. The expansion of the prison population has led to
a gradual rise reflected in the 2004 statistics as well as in current rates of incarceration. “…The
nation’s prisons and jails held 2.1 million people in mid-2004, 2.3 percent more than the year
before.” 52 This statistic indicates that an average of one in every 380 residents of the United
States was incarcerated during 2004. 53 Of these numbers the majority of inmates, sixty percent,
were racial minorities. 54 These facts remain true today. Furthermore, inmates in state and federal
penitentiaries during 2004 had access to fewer resources and programs due to problems of
overcrowding.
51
This year was selected to correlate with the enclosed Bureau of Justice study data.
The Associated Press. “Nation’s Inmate Population Increased 2.3 Percent Last Year.” The New York
Times. The New York Times, 25 Apr. 2005. Web.
<http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/25/politics/25prison.html>.
53
Ibid.
54
Harrison, Paige M., and Allen J. Beck. “Prisoners in 2004.” Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin. US
Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs, Oct. 2005. Web.
<http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/p04.pdf>.
52
20
Prison Programs
Over the last fifty years the presence of prison programs has fluctuated due to the
inconsistencies in prison administration and funding. The programs themselves offer a variety of
benefits to prison life. There are two prominent means by which prison programs are formed.
The first is by way of prison administrators or judicial mandate. “…The general posture of even
the more enlightened prison administrators is to do their best to provide self-developmental
opportunities and programs for those prisoners who want to pursue them.” 55 Additionally, prison
work programs, which encourage skill building and allow for political, social organizing, are also
made possible through funding and lobbying on the part of UNICOR, Federal Prison Industries.
These for-profit organizations are leaders in establishing prison work programs. The second
means for establishing prison programs is by inmates who lobby for the establishment of a prison
program or prison group. These programs typically follow less conventional structures and can
reflect the particular concerns of various facilities and the inmates who live there. “The process
for creating a program may start with a group of prisoners with an interest in some form of selfhelp activities. They plan a program and write a proposal to the Warden for approval. The
program must have a sponsor who may be a prison staff member or an approved outsider.” 56
Some programs meet with strong resistance from administrations who fear that allowing inmates
to organize may initiate unrest within the respective prison.
At Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana, the introduction of the Black Panther
Movement in the early 1970s began with the incarceration of Robert King, Albert Woodfox and
Herman Wallace, who were later known as the Angola Three. By organizing with other inmates
55
Morris, Norval, and David J. Rothman. The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of Punishment
in Western Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. (p. 221)
56
Irwin, John. Lifers: Seeking Redemption in Prison. New York: Routledge, 2009. (p. 84)
21
these men were able to fight for the desegregation of the prison, increases in services and the
establishment of the first formalized prison lawyering program, which lobbied on behalf of other
inmates through the writing of legal briefs and paperwork. 57 “The implications of radical
political organization in prison are profound. The prison experience becomes defined as a period
for the development of political consciousness and revolutionary organization.” 58 These
programs tend to be more expansive and inclusive then their counterpart organizations outside of
prison.
Organized groups within prison are effective in recruiting an array of inmates who
outside of prison would be classified as unlikely participants based on the large numbers of
limiting factors that inhibit their participation. Inmates before they enter the penal system may
largely be classified as resource poor and lacking the additional time or financial resources to
participate. Once they enter into the prison system there is often a leveling out of the resource
restrictions that are likely inhibitors to their participation. All inmates not held in restrictive
custody have the same amount of daily time with which they can participate. Additionally, there
are few financial considerations to prison program participation so each inmate essentially
possesses equal opportunity. For this reason, inmates serving sentences may take advantage of
the resource equality and seek to gain a strong position within the prison through alliances within
groups and organizations. “Once awakened, the lifers begin transforming themselves by
participating in rehabilitative programs. These include educational and vocational training
programs offered by the state, but also many programs introduced by outside groups and
57
“About the FILM – Angola 3: Black Panthers and the LSP.” Angola 3: Black Panthers and the LSP.
Web. <http://3blackpanthers.org/about/>.
58
Jacobs, James B. “Stratification and Conflict Among Prison Inmates.” The Journal of Criminal Law
and Criminology 66.4 (1975) 476-82. JSTOR. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1142887>. (p. 481)
22
individuals and, importantly, many created by the lifers themselves.” 59 These organizations
provide both an outlet for interests and personal opinions on internal or external problems facing
inmates.
For these organizations to exist in the prison a series of qualifications must be met. After
the Warden has reviewed the program and s/he decides that it falls under the appropriate
program classifications, the proposal will be passed along to the Regional Prison Administrator
(RPA). At this point the program, if deemed beneficial, can be implemented in other prisons.
However, once approved, the Warden can discontinue the program without approval from the
RPA. Each organization is subject to annual review at which time other programs can be
recommended based on the needs of the inmates. Once a program is established there are, like
programs in general American society, limitations of access. Only inmates classified in levels
one through four 60 can participate or start prison organizations. This excludes inmates on death
row or those inmates who have been sentenced to solitary confinement. The prison
administration also has the right to constant supervision and to limit individuals from
participation in prison programs based on their security status in the facility. Inmates, however,
are never allowed to limit other eligible inmates from participating. 61
It is likely due to the benefits that these organizations provide for inmates that;
“…Approximately one-third of all maximum-security prisoners were members of at least one
formal prisoner organization.” 62 By joining a prison organization inmates have the potential to
59
Irwin, John. Lifers: Seeking Redemption in Prison. New York: Routledge, 2009. (p. 78-79)
Level one represents the lowest prison security level and level four is reserved for inmates who are
being held in a maximum-security prison, but allowed some form of interaction with other inmates.
61
Michigan.gov. “Michigan Department of Corrections: Policy Directives: Prison Programs and
Organizations.” Michigan Department of Corrections: Policy Directives. Michigan.gov, 24 May 2004.
Web. (p.1-2)
62
McShane, Marilyn D., and Frank P. Williams III., ed. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New York:
Garland Publishing Inc., 1996. (p. 260)
60
23
become politically engaged in the activities and changes in the prison standards of living. Prison
industries that hold such significant power for the inmates who involve themselves expand the
impact of prison organizations as a political tool for inmates. “Prison should thus be understood
as an area in which solitary groups may emerge, recruit membership, organize for the future, and
promote their ideologies.” 63 This unconventional look at prison programs and the potential they
provide for inmates can be seen clearly in the first major prison organization started by inmates,
the prison union.
Prison Unions
Unions in the United States Prison System appeared for only a brief period, but the
importance of such programs as motivators for change and rights based efforts within the prisons
is undeniable. In the 1970s, with the growth of the American labor movement inmates began to
seek greater financial benefits and safety regulations in prison factories. “Inmate unions with
similar goals appeared throughout the 1970s in states such as California, Massachusetts,
Michigan, New York, and North Carolina” 64 These unions began with inmates taking the most
basic steps towards political action in the form of letter writing by describing their conditions to
prison outsiders. Additionally, inmates began lodging formal complaints to prison administrators
asking for an official forum in which to voice concerns and negotiate for better working
standards. Prisoners obtained; “…A significant amount of support from individuals and groups
outside correctional facilities. Labor unions, clergy, and left-wing activists, for example, have all
63
Jacobs, James B. “Stratification and Conflict Among Prison Inmates.” The Journal of Criminal Law
and Criminology 66.4 (1975) 476-82. JSTOR. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1142887>. (p. 481)
64
McShane, Marilyn D., and Frank P. Williams III., ed. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New York:
Garland Publishing Inc., 1996. (p. 468)
24
worked on behalf of the inmate unionization movement.” 65 With assistance from external lobbies
and support groups, unions for inmates were established in select prisons. Through the
development of these union groups, inmates were exercising their political and civic voice to
argue for basic needs and services. They requested rights under the existing labor laws that
would ensure safety standards equal to the safety conditions given to individuals working for the
state outside of the detention facility. 66 Using legal statutes, inmates were able to improve both
the standards of safety required in prisons and also increase salaries for inmate workers. The
ability of inmates to make progress through their use of prison unions came from the collective
action intrinsic in a union system. Although prisons are in no way mandated to provide minimum
wage, the unions argued that without any money inmates would have a nearly impossible time
surviving once released from prison. Today, the issue of prisoner wages is being argued through
other prisoner advocacy outlets.
Prison unions succeeded in involving inmates, not just prison administrators and political
elites as had been customary, in the discussion for inmate workers safety. Through the loud and
collective voice of prisoners involved in unions, safety and fiscal interests became discussion
topics. “…Today there are constitutional concerns about worker safety and protections from
potential abuse because inmates are often not free to choose work assignments nor covered by
workers compensation benefits.” 67 Prison unions in California were the most effective, they
worked to incorporate majorities of inmates into the unions and they built a powerful voice
against administrative authority. Even in the structured and repressive society that is prison,
where a small authority group makes decisions, group organizing can be effective.
65
McShane, Marilyn D., and Frank P. Williams III., ed. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New York:
Garland Publishing Inc., 1996.. (p. 468)
66
Ibid. (p. 509)
67
Ibid. (p. 480)
25
Administrators, however, were frequently opposed to the prisoner organizing and
lobbying that was enacted through the efforts of inmates in prisoner unions. The negative
response to inmate unions came from Wardens and guards articulating that unions “…threaten
the security and custody needs of their institutions. Various administrators have expressed a
concern that union activity might create friction between prison personnel and union members
and, in turn, between union inmates and nonunion inmates.” 68 Based on the high threat levels felt
by Wardens with the presence of unions in prisons, administrators sought to limit access and
eventually shut down their activities all together. By the mid-1990s, prison unions were
eliminated from all correctional facilities.
Inmate Advisory Committees
One of the earliest forms of political action on the part of prisoners came with the
establishment of Inmate Advisory Committees. In New York’s Auburn State Penitentiary the
first version of an Inmate Advisory Committee was established. In the early 1900’s inmates at
the state facility encouraged prisoners from the general prison population to represent their
interests to prison officials and build a collective voice to present issues and put forth their
concerns. The inmates who joined the organization, which was known at Auburn as the Mutual
Aid League, addressed the concerns of inmates through dialogue with prison administrators. The
organization reflected the traditional democratic process. Inmate leaders emerged from those
who elected to join in a liaison of prison leadership. 69 After Auburn’s organizing led to
monumental shifts in standards of living within the prison, inmates in other facilities began to
adopt similar practices and organizations. As these advisory committees expanded within other
68
McShane, Marilyn D., and Frank P. Williams III., ed. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New York:
Garland Publishing Inc., 1996. (p. 469)
69
Ibid. (p. 467)
26
detention facilities, prison administrators became more accepting of their presence and began to
work to formalize inmate complaints and recommendations into a clearly controlled process.
“These committees meet periodically with designated prison staff to present problems and to
develop solutions to specific issues, such as dissatisfaction with supervision in housing units or
the quality of food service, medical services, or recreational and educational programs.” 70 Inmate
Advisory Committees use lobby and reactionary tactics, which are similar to traditional political
organizations. Since there are no restrictions on who can join, these prison organizations are
accessible to all inmates interested in participating.
Today, inmates who become involved in Inmate Advisory Committees are typically
viewed as leaders or advocates amongst other inmates in the prison. They are not fearful of
vocalization and typically have strong relationships with a large portion of inmates in the facility.
These committees build accountability through the formal network of prisoners and
administrators. “The process of the formalization of previously informal inmate organizations
not only brought inmate groups more closely under the supervision of prison officials, but also
provided a stronger foundation for inmate achievements and participation in prison decisionmaking and it gave participants a new and more acceptable means of achieving status within the
inmate community.” 71 While these organizations are very present in the daily life of inmates that
choose to participate they also play a strong role in the long-term improvements of life for
prisoners.
70
McShane, Marilyn D., and Frank P. Williams III., ed. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New York:
Garland Publishing Inc., 1996. (p. 259)
71
Ibid. (p. 260)
27
Jaycees
The Jaycees, or Junior Chambers of Commerce, is a civic organization with numerous
prison chapters. It is the only prison organization founded outside of a penitentiary that now has
branches within the prison system. “A Jaycee program existed in each of the state’s prisons.
Their purpose, according to the Department of Corrections’ annual report, was to ‘undertake
various projects for character building, leadership training, and community improvement.” 72
Unlike traditional prison organizations the Jaycees only accept inmates that have the ability to
pay annual dues. While the financial obligation for members outside or inside prison is low,
approximately twelve dollars a year according to the organizations website, the cost can be a
barrier to participation. In this way the Jaycees do reflect some of the same structural restrictions
that exist for resource poor individuals outside prison. Charging inmates an annual fee for
membership is a controversial issue. For the Jaycees, approval of a program that mandates dues
is possible because of the organization’s long-standing presence outside of prison. As a group the
Jaycee’s limit who can join even amongst those willing to make the monetary donation. Inmates
must go through a referral process as well as attend two meetings annually to qualify as
members. 73
Once involved, the benefits for inmates are two-fold. The organization gives inmates a
political voice and support after release from prison. “Jaycee involvement often helps in getting a
parole—and staying free thereafter. Jaycees estimate that their ex-cons have only a 10%
recidivism rate, compared with the more than 50% for alumni of federal prisons.” 74 The strong
72
Useem, Bert and Peter Kimball. States of Siege: U.S. Prison Riots 1971-1986. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1989. (p. 69)
73
Ibid. (p. 69)
74
Time Magazine. The Law: Jaycees in Prison –TIME.” Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs, News
Photos, Video, Tech Reviews – TIM.com. 20 Sept. 1971. Web.
<http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,910004-2,00.html>.
28
success rate is likely attributed to the fact that inmates have the support of the Jaycees, which
carries over to their life outside of prison. After their release inmates can become involved in
community groups that exist in the general Jaycee organizations, which provide a network for
post-release inmates to utilize. Additionally, many Jaycees receive additional benefits. “Inmates
were given furloughs to attend special events outside the prisons, such as a Jaycee convention.
This opportunity was extended even to inmates sentenced to life with no chance of parole.” 75
The community focus of the organization’s mission can offer inmates a new team of supporters
that are separate from the community that may have influenced them in their lives prior to
prison.
Since its inception the Jaycees have coordinated actions ranging from small community
prison projects to mass prison riots. During the 1970s and mid-1980s the Jaycees were credited
with leading the disruptive protests at Attica Correctional Facility. The political action fostered
and carried by the Jaycees demonstrates the political power wielded by inmates involved in civic
organizations.
Prison Industries and Work Programs
Prison programs and industries continue to be a mainstay of United States prisons. When
a court sentences an individual they are either sentenced to labor or death. Unless an inmate in a
state or federal prison is physically unable to participate in a work program one is mandated. The
participation aspect comes with what inmates do with these work assignments. Within each work
environment there is opportunity for advancement and improvement of an inmate’s position
within their prison industry. Prison industries were established for multiple reasons. The first of
75
Useem, Bert and Peter Kimball. States of Siege: U.S. Prison Riots 1971-1986. New York: Oxford
University Press, 1989. (p. 166)
29
these came from a need to engage inmates during the daytime hours with activities that prison
administrators could easily oversee. In addition to simplifying oversight, prison administrators
discovered that they had unlimited labor to produce goods at virtually no cost. When prisons
began manufacturing goods that were previously made outside of penitentiaries strong critiques
of the programs ensued. “With the rise of the Industrial revolution, correctional administrators
turned to leasing out inmates to businesses. This method allowed for inmate labor outside of
prison walls.” 76 Individuals who were not incarcerated indicated that they were loosing jobs that
were now being handled by prisoners for pay below minimum wage. This created conflict
between the government’s need to represent the American public as well as take steps to build on
the financial benefits of having inmate labor. Currently, inmates who take part in these programs
learn to produce goods that may involve training and education for successful production.
“Inmate industries now include data graphics, electronics, metal and wood, and textile and
leather operations. Through their participation in these industries, federal prisoners have been
trained in skills that might lead to future employment.” 77 The theory behind these programs
stemmed from a concept that education could occur in tandem with production and that inmates
would learn marketable skills that would enable them to have job opportunities once released.
“Today, vocational programs are linked to work release and apprenticeships as well as the ability
to obtain certifications, licenses, and other professional credentials.” 78 Once released, inmates
with documented skills can employ their experiences to improve their standards of living. New
skills also reflect a shift in the education and proficiency level of many inmates. “Most inmates
enter prison with spotty job histories, and few have the requisite education or skills to compete in
76
McShane, Marilyn D., and Frank P. Williams III., ed. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New York:
Garland Publishing Inc., 1996. (p. 508)
77
Ibid. (p. 509)
78
Ibid. (p. 479)
30
the workforce.” 79 These trends can be corroborated through the survey evidence found in section
three of this paper. Through advancements of financial resources gained from training in the
prison workplace former inmates may be likely to involve themselves in political or civic
activities as seen from trends in general American political participation.
The creation of prison workforces led to the development of UNICOR, Federal Prison
Industries. “From the perspective of the prison administrator, an ample program of prison
industries is a management tool of central importance, making for a peaceful and orderly
prison.” 80 The ability for control within prison industries has led to a series of other regulations
in prison work programs along with the chance for inmates to organize within their workplace.
Each of the prison industries exists with unique workplace structure. Within the system’s
organization inmates that have a desire to improve their status can take on higher-powered
positions that give them the potential to change aspects of their own life as well as the overall
workplace environment. “For example, correctional administrators look to prisoners for support
and maintenance work (such as kitchen hands, inmate clerks, commissary clerks, library clerks,
and janitors). Within the inmate social order, a hierarchy exists with respect to these work
assignments.” 81 A prisoner that is given high access levels to information or highly coveted
resources can gain power and an ability to persuade others within the system to follow their lead
or align with their ideologies. In addition, work affords inmates other personalized benefits,
which are reflected through the social gains they acquire. These may be similar to the social
gains felt by those who participate in work programs outside of prison. This aspect of prison life
79
Farabee, David. Rethinking Rehabilitation: Why Can’t We Reform Our Criminals? Washington, D.C.:
AEI, 2005. (p. 31)
80
Morris, Norval, and David J. Rothman. The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of Punishment
in Western Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. (p. 220)
81
McShane, Marilyn D., and Frank P. Williams III., ed. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New York:
Garland Publishing Inc., 1996. (p. 508)
31
built into the majority of inmates’ daily existence can be viewed as both a social and political
construct through the advancement it confers on individuals and the collective organizing that
leads to progress in the prison system.
Prison Lawyering Programs
The role of inmates as litigators developed out of the nearly complete lack of post
conviction lawyers for public defense. With few lawyers available to file motions, inmates
possessing even the most basic education began to self-advocate. They used the limited resources
contained in prison libraries. This work led to the formalization of a prison lawyering program
where inmates could become official advocates for other inmates within the facilities. Inmate
advocates produced legal documentation by recording violations of living standards, infractions
by guards and prison administrators and other problems within the correctional facility. “Classaction suits brought by prisoners have led the courts to the definition and enforcement of
minimum standards of health care, to the establishment of minimum procedural due-process
requirements for the imposition of disciplinary punishments, to the equal protection laws for the
different categories of inmates, and to the upholding of the Eighth Amendment guarantee against
cruel and unusual punishment.” 82 Inmate leaders in the prison lawyering program became the
quality control specialists within the prison by filing direct complaints in the language of the law.
Their actions changed the standards for inmates in penitentiaries within the United States.
Through the efforts of the prison lawyering program the constitutional rights of prisoners
has improved. Inmates who participate have the power to change their political, civic and social
surroundings. “Being a jailhouse lawyer is a valued identity in prison. It provides a way to gain
82
Morris, Norval, and David J. Rothman. The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of Punishment
in Western Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995. (p. 219)
32
power, money, and independence, all highly prized in the prison environment.” 83 The prison
lawyering program, however, is not available to all inmates. One must possess the ability to both
read and write and typically will need at least a high school education or a GED. By becoming a
prison “lawyer” inmates can put forth not just legal goals but political goals as well.
The Role of Religious Organizations in Prison
The availability of religious resources along with a designated place of worship is
mandatory in all United States prisons. Inmates in some facilities are given options with regard
to the denomination of religious leadership. Involvement with religious leaders and institutions
may come from a desire for inmates to: “…gain protection, to meet other inmates, to meet
volunteers, or to obtain special prison resources.” 84 The political aspect of their participation
may come from the fact that prisoners are likely to gain reductions on sentences and access to
greater goods and services through involvement. Administrators often view a dedication to
religion as a positive motion towards inmates developing a stable connection that will support
them once they return to society. For those serving life sentences however, religious
organizations are also popular. “Religion has great appeal to lifers. It offers meaning and purpose
to their unsatisfying past and present lives, a method of expiation, and perhaps a future life after
the one they are living now, which has been damaged and diminished profoundly by
imprisonment.” 85 Some lifers seek a dominant role in the prison’s religious community. From a
place of authority these inmates can then work with individuals who may be new to the prison
environment, imparting knowledge and guidance. Relationships created through the presence of
83
McShane, Marilyn D., and Frank P. Williams III., ed. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New York:
Garland Publishing Inc., 1996. (p. 268)
84
Ibid. (p. 469)
85
Irwin, John. Lifers: Seeking Redemption in Prison. New York: Routledge, 2009. (p. 68)
33
religion can bestow protection for inmates who feel vulnerable in the prison setting. “The
important question is whether religiosity and faith based prison programs can be effective in
improving the lives of inmates while in prison and, by extension, once they are released.” 86
Prisoners who seek an accepting community to assist with their reintegration into public life may
turn to faith-based support. Through their ties to religious communities inmates can become
involved in other political and civic activities.
Prison Education Programs
Education in prison is a somewhat controversial topic in that many prisons have cut
educational programs based on funding restrictions. Acceptance into a prison education program
is sometimes difficult given the limited funds and high level of interest. Financial obstacles leave
programs in a constant state of flux. Education, when available, provides a large array of options.
“In the 1930s, one New York prison system had courses in agriculture, commercial art,
barbering, carpentry, construction, estimating, loom repair, masonry, electricity, mechanical
drawing navigation, tailoring, marketing, bookbinding, machine shop practice, shorthand,
advertising, salesmanship, and cartooning.” 87 In recent years such extensive offerings are no
longer available.
Prison education programs still impart inmates with the importance of having a political
voice. During meetings of general education classes, GED classes, and vocational training
inmates interact with other prisoners who share an interest in advancing their educational goals.
Inmates who take part in education classes have the potential to become leaders within the prison
86
Kerley, Kent R., Todd L. Matthews, and Troy C. Blanchard. “Religiosity, Religious Participation, and
Negative Prison Behaviors.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 44.4 (2005): 443-57. JSTOR.
Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3590556>. (p. 445)
87
McShane, Marilyn D., and Frank P. Williams III., ed. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New York:
Garland Publishing Inc., 1996. (p. 480)
34
community as they garner skills not held by other inmates. Their ability to read, write, do math,
or particular skill sets enhance their capacity to find jobs and become members of other
organizations. Those that have the aptitude to organize possess a remarkable skill that is prized
by others in the prison system.
Scared Straight Programs
Built on the idea of deterrence the Scared Straight program was established. “The original
‘Scared Straight’ program began in the 1970’s when inmates serving life sentences at New
Jersey prison (Rahway State Prison) began a program in which they would ‘scare’ at-risk or
delinquent children using an aggressive presentation…” 88 The idea behind the program was to
expose youth to life in state penitentiaries and in doing so make them fearful of arrest. This
program targets high-risk youth who have a history of arrest or are brought through a school or
community rehabilitation program. Eventually judges began integrating Scared Straight
programs into juvenile sentencing as a way to show youth what they would face if rearrested.
The idea for the program came from lifer inmates who had a desire to give back to their
communities and to offer an alternative to jail for youths that were at risk for future
incarceration. “The underlying theoretical foundation for this approach is deterrence, with the
belief that realistic, and often aggressive, depictions of prison life will cause youth to refrain
from delinquency due to fear of the consequence of incarceration.” 89 The prisoners who head
these programs are seeking to alter the status of juvenile detention and are effective in doing so
while still serving their own sentences. Scared Straight is political in the sense that inmates are
seeking to change the larger society from within the confines of prison. Today, the organization
88
Schembi, Anthony J. “Scared Straight Programs: Jail and Detention Tours.” Florida State Juvenile
Corrections. Department of Juvenile Justice. Web.
<http://www.djj.state.fl.us/Research/Scared_Straight_Booklet_Version.pdf>. (p. 3)
89
Ibid. (p. 1)
35
is considered controversial in many respects because of conduct problems that have occurred as
well as the access television has gained to life behind bars.
Part III: Research Design
Data Collection and Study Design
In 2004 the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released a secondary study following up
from its 1997 research, which looked at Inmates in Federal and State Correctional Facilities. For
both studies the BJS utilized the most recent Census of State and Federal Correctional Facilities
to determine information about every correctional facility in operation. For the 2004 study the
data came from the 2000 census and was supplemented with an existing universal file, which
gave information about the prisons opened between 2000 and 2003. The selection process for
which prison sites would be used in the study came from a random sampling of the Federal
Bureau of Prisons (BOP), which included all facilities currently in operation. The prisons were
divided into all male (1,192), all female (148) and prisons that had both (209). The choices were
determined to ensure random selection and accuracy of distribution. After selection they were
divided into state (209) and federal (148) facilities. To additionally ensure that the sample was a
direct representation of the population, the prisons were organized into regional groups, which
were equaled in size to ensure that no states were left out and that the distribution of prisons was
in correlation with the actual number of facilities in each state. The study automatically included
the 14 largest male and the 7 largest female detention centers. To further code for potential error
in the study the facilities were organized by security level. Once selected they were given the
option to deny participation, at which time they were placed outside of the sample leaving the
final number of facilities at 287.
36
Once the selection of facilities was completed the BJS was able to begin collecting data.
At each facility a random sample of inmates was chosen based on a list of inmates that were in
the facility the pervious night. 13,098 males and 3,054 females were selected. The list included
information about the inmate’s crimes. To guarantee that the selection of inmates clearly
reflected the array of crimes for which individuals had been incarcerated, one of every three nondrug offenders was included. This process added to the sample size 3,347 males and 1,009
females. The BJS conducted 14,499 interviews in state facilities and 3,686 in federal facilities.
The regressions run on the BJS dataset only include state prisons. BJS staff was sent to conduct
the interviews using CAPI, an assisted computer interview program. Each interview took
between an hour and an hour and a half and the interviewer read out the questions to the
respondent and entered their responses. These programs prompt the interviewer with the next
question based on the information entered. Inmates were given both verbal and written notice
that participation in the study was voluntary and that the data collected would remain
anonymous. Furthermore, throughout the course of the interview there was always the option for
a non-answer or blank response. The data collection occurred between October of 2003 and May
of 2004. 90
Research Model
Both the independent and dependent variables included in my regression analysis work to
show the correlation between different activities, programs and demographic signifiers. The
dependent variables correspond to a series of available prison programs. In my study the
dependent variables are correlated with the background of the inmate as established by the
90
Bureau of Justice Statistics, and United States Department of Justice. Survey of Inmates in State and
Federal Correctional Facilities, 2004. 28. Feb. 2007. Raw Data. National Archive of Criminal Justice
Data, Ann Arbor. (pp.7-10)
37
independent variables. The purpose of these comparisons is to indicate if there are relationships
between pre-incarceration stage and incarceration with regards to participation in political and
civic activities. Regressions do not provide definitive proof of a relationship between the
independent and dependent variables. While the numbers themselves cannot be relied on for
indisputable proof when the economic evidence is coupled with the empirical data presented
above, a compelling argument is indicated.
The data collected in this study reflects the demographics of males and females in state
penitentiaries. Interview questions include detailed information about inmates’ backgrounds,
their most recent crimes and criminal history, medical information and an overview of their
activities within the penitentiary where they were serving time. Based on the questions provided
in the study I selected a series of eleven independent variables that provide information on preincarceration activities. These variables have then been compared with a series of seventeen
dependent variables, which give information about the life of the inmate within prison and their
participation in prison programs. For the purpose of statistical cohesion I recoded the data to
meet binary specifications. Throughout my analysis I used number “1” to indicate Females and
“2” to indicate males. In the case of race I used “1” to indicate White, Black, or Spanish (here
referring to Hispanic) and “2” to denote Minority, individuals that fall outside of the racial group
being analyzed. The answer “Yes” was coded as “1” and “No” was coded as “2” and for
questions already in numeric form the regressions were run using the coding provided by the
BJS. Additionally, schooling was coded from “00” (never attended school) to “18” (Two years or
more of Graduate School). When a question offers one of two options to be selected the first is
always coded as “1” and the second is always coded as “2.” Individuals who did not provide
38
answers or gave a response of “other” to any of the following questions were excluded from
analysis. This was done to ensure the accuracy of the data being considered.
Independent Variables
The independent variables come from the following questions:
Table 1: Description of Independent Variables
Question #
Title
Question
1
Sex
Do you identify as Male or Female?
2
Spanish
3
Black
4
White
5
Military
6
Length of Sentence (Years)
7
Number of Times Arrested
8
Contact With Children
9
Public Defender
10
Education Level
11
Work
Are you of Spanish, Latino, or Hispanic
origin?
Which of these categories describes
your race? (Selections were Black or
African America or Other)
Which of these categories describes
your race? (Selections were White or
Other)
Did you ever serve in the U.S. Armed
Forces?
How long is the sentence to prison for?
Include any suspended time.
How many times have you been
arrested as an adult or a juvenile before
your current arrest?
Since your admission to prison about
how often have you made or received
calls from any of your (children/child)?
Did you have a lawyer or a public
defender?
Before your admission what was the
highest grade that you ever attended?
During the months before arrest did
you have a job or a business?
These questions, selected to stand as independent variables in this study, hold strong
theoretical importance. The following hypothesis indicates the vitality of these questions. The
39
initial inquiries address the basic descriptive statistics about the study participant and root the
questions in the race, sex and military service of the inmate (Questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). The
question regarding length of one’s sentence (Question 4) can have dual outcomes that establish
an interesting picture. The first of these is that inmates serving long sentences may participate in
prison programs because they have extended time and therefore greater opportunity for
involvement. Conversely, inmates who have shorter sentences may use their impending release
to motivate participation. Either outcome in this case provides a perspective from which the
theoretical data can be analyzed. Arrest rates (Question 5) also reflect trends in inmate activities.
For inmates who frequently recidivate, participation in prison programs may be less likely to
provide useful services, however, those that are first time offenders can be drawn in by the
resources and organizations found in state and federal penitentiaries. Incentives to participate can
also be detected in the relationships one has with their children (Question 6). Inmates held
accountable to their family members during their incarceration might be more likely to
participate in programs that can signify responsibility and involvement. Inmates that were
represented by a Public Defender (Question 7) are in an economic class with individuals
traditionally considered non-participants. To qualify one must have received public assistance,
committed to a mental health facility or had an annual income after taxes that equaled 125% of
the current federal poverty level. 91 No significance should be noted here because monetary
stability in prison is less a factor influencing ones ability to participate. Education level
(Question 8) before incarceration also denotes an inmate’s propensity to participate because; an
inmate with higher education levels should more easily be able to take advantage of the
organizations available. The same would be true of inmates that held a job (Question 9) before
91
“Eligibility Requirements for OPD Services” King County, Washington. Web.
<http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/OPD/WhoWeServe.aspx>.
40
they came to prison. These individuals may also be more likely to have a connection with their
community and may want to increase skills to improve their chances of re-employment after
release. The aforementioned variables have been viewed in conjunction with the dependent
variables, shown below, to suggest causes of participation in prison programs.
Dependent Variables:
The following questions were asked for the included dependent variables:
Table 2: Description of Dependent Variables
Question #
Title
Question
1
GED Earned
2
Education Awareness in
Corrections
3
Required to Use Education
Programs
4
Any Time Spent Reading
5
Religious Activities
6
Work Off Prison Grounds
7
Hours Worked Last Week
8
Paid For Work
Do you have a GED that is a high school
equivalency certificate?
Have you ever attended/been in/used an
education or awareness program
explaining problems with alcohol and/or
drugs while you were in jail, prison, or
other correctional facility?
Were you required to attend/be in/use an
education or awareness program
explaining problems with alcohol or
drugs?
In the last 24 hours, did you spend any
time reading?
Since your admission have you engaged in
any religious activities?
Do you now have a work assignment
outside the prison facility for which you
leave the prison grounds?
In this last week, how many hours did you
work on (this job/these jobs)?
Are you paid money for any of this work?
9
Non-Monetary Reward
10
Vocational Training
Other than money, do you receive
anything for work, such as time credits or
other principals?
Since your admission, have you ever been
in any vocational or job-training program
excluding prison work assignments?
41
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
Other Education Programs
Since your admission, have you ever been
in any other education program?
Excluding vocational training?
Religious Study Group
Since your admission to prison have you
joined or participated in – A Bible club or
other religious study groups?
Ethnic/Racial Organization
Since your admission to prison have you
joined or participated in an ethnic/racial
organization (for example, NAACP,
African American or Black Cultural
Group, Hispanic Committee, Aztlan or
Lakota)?
Inmate Assistance Group
Since your admission to prison have you
joined or participated in inmate assistance
groups (for example, inmate liaison,
advisory or worker’s councils) or inmate
counseling groups?
Other Inmate Self-Help
Since your admission to prison have you
Groups
joined or participated in Other inmate selfhelp/personal improvement groups, for
example, Toastmasters, Jaycees, Gavel
club, Veterans club, or parents awareness
groups?
Employment Counseling
Since your admission have you joined or
participated in Employment counseling
(including how to find a job, interviewing
skills)?
Other Pre-Release Programs Since your admission have you joined or
participated in Other Pre-release
programs?
Each of these questions explores how inmates use their time while incarcerated.
Education Programs (Question 1) may have a strong political impact in the political efficacy of
prisoners and can expand their access to political material and provide a community of
individuals with which they can organize. Similarly, mandated education programs (Question 2)
have the potential to access inmates that may otherwise be uninvolved in the political system of
the prison. This question gives insight as to which inmates are participating based on interest and
free will and which inmates are mandated to complete their educational training in prison.
42
Vocational training (Questions 10, 11) is a dedicated form of participation that can indicate a
desire to alter ones status in society and improve social standing. The number of hours an inmate
spends reading (Question 4) can provide a clue as to the engagement a prisoner has with the
world outside of prison as well as their tendency to seek out educational or social advancement
through literature. Involvement with religious activities, (Question 5) as shown earlier, has an
important place in the process of political participation. Inmates that engage in religious
activities are likely to be politically informed and involved in prison programs. Religious study
groups (Question 12) speak directly about the role of religion in an inmate’s life. Work programs
(Questions 6, 7, 8, 9) in onsite factories and outside prison public works projects may have
numerous positive effects on political participation for inmates. Increases in hours spent working
may allow inmates to discuss opinions and develop shared interests from which they can later
organize. Extensive labor, however, can diminish inmate involvement. Working during the
majority of hour’s available means that inmates often cannot take part in other activities. Further
explanations for inmate participation in work programs can come from the monetary or good
time benefits gained through their participation. Inmates paid for work are perhaps participating
because of the rewards and not due to interest in participation. Ethnic and racial organizations
(Question 13) are intrinsically based in political and social activism and inmates who participate
can be considered politically or civically involved. Inmate assistance groups (Question 14) work
directly with the prison administration on making improvements for themselves and those with
whom they are incarcerated. These programs have a direct political impact by attempting to
change the status quo of life within the detention center. Inmate self-help groups (Question 15)
include organizations such as the Jaycees referenced above, which have worked to carry out the
political interests of their members. Employment counseling (Questions 16, 17) can indicate an
43
inmates desire to gain skills that potentially lead to future opportunities once the inmate is
released. When this data is combined with the information learned from the independent
variables, inferences can be drawn about the causes of inmate involvement in civic and political
prison programs.
Limitations
The comparison of the information provided in the BJS study from 2004 suggests
possible causes of participation amongst incarcerated inmates. However, the potential for error in
a study of this nature is important to note when analyzing the data. While the BJS study does a
comprehensive job of ensuring that the selection of both the facilities and the inmates was done
to reflect the current prison population with regards to demographics, sex, type of detention
center and crime type, it is impossible to ensure that there was no error in any of the selection
processes. Furthermore, the study took eight months to complete at which time there could have
been a slight shift in the prison population affecting the accuracy of the sample. Interviewers also
have the potential to influence the study. Given that the answers are being passed through a third
party and inmates are not making the selections themselves it is possible for the interviewer to
influence the results. This can occur through the method in which the interviewer poses the
question, the way that the interviewer codes the response (this is only an issue for responses that
were not already coded and needed a written response), and the interviewers ability to influence
the inmate being interviewed. These problems of human error are important to note when
looking at a survey of this kind, which involves multiple variables and response types. That said,
the BJS staff are trained in data collection and therefore, less likely to commit human errors of
this type while conducting the survey.
44
Part IV: Findings
Descriptive Statistics
Each of the graphs included above fits into a set of descriptive statistics. The ages
represented in this survey range from 20 to 98 and include only inmates that identify as male or
female. The length of their sentences falls between 1 and 83 years. The inmates identified as
“White” totaled 7,197. The remaining racial groups represent 7,302 inmates interviewed. All
14,499 inmates responded to the question about their military service and all but 34 inmates
indicated the number of times they had been arrested. Nearly all of the inmates questioned, a
total of 14,350, answered whether their legal assistance was received through a public defender
or private attorney. Additionally, 14,440 inmates recorded their education level before
incarceration and 14,121 inmates gave information about their employment status before their
most recent arrest. A total of 9,806 inmates gave responses to the question about their
relationship with their children. Inmates, who were in contact with their children and responded
“yes” to having communication with them, claimed to correspond with their children anywhere
from one to eight times weekly.
Regressions and Analysis
The following tables were run using a linear probability model. For this reason the
dependent variables in the datasets are binary. These types of regressions have limitations such
that R^2 is less important as a measure of fit and the change in outcome represents the change in
X when all other X’s are being held constant. In these models the notation “B” indicates the
45
outcome of the comparison. Approaching the model from an economic lens it must be noted that
the unboundedness of the predictions can lead to some confusion when interpreting the datasets.
I selected this model however, over the competing logistical models, logit and probit, which are
also capable of testing binary dependent variables. This linear probability model was chosen for
its ease of interpretation.
Regression 1: Dependent Variable GED
Model
92
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
2.357
.359
-.005
.059
.100
Spanish***
Black***
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
6.558
.000
-.004
-.087
.931
.094
.047
1.067
.286
-.205
.063
-.168
-3.242
.001
-.265
.076
-.265
-3.512
.000
.055
.072
.052
.754
.451
Length of Sentence Years*
-.005
.002
-.084
-1.878
.061
# Of Times Arrested
-.001
.003
-.012
-.279
.780
.111
.059
.082
1.880
.061
Public Defender
-.014
.053
-.011
-.259
.795
Education Level***
-.047
.011
-.201
-4.303
.000
Work
-.015
.046
-.015
-.334
.739
Sex
Military
White
Contact With Children*
R: .354 and R Square: .125
F 6.166
Holding all other independent variables constant when GED is compared to “Spanish” it
is found that individuals of Hispanic descent are 20.5% less likely then other races not included
in the study (Asian, Native American, Pacific Islander, etc) to participate in a GED program in
92
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
46
prison. This information is significant at better than a .001 of the model. Additionally, holding all
else constant inmates that identify as black are 26.5% less likely then other non-included races to
participate in GED programs at a model better than .000. Inmates that have a higher education
level are also 4.7% less likely to participate in a prison GED program. When all other X
variables are held constant the longer an inmate’s sentence is the less likely they are to
participate in GED programs by .5%. This is true at a .061 level of statistical significance. When
an inmate has contact with their children they are 11.1% more likely to take part in a GED
program at a .061 significance level. This is true as long as all other independent variables are
held constant.
The data in this regression suggests that minority inmates are less likely to obtain GEDs
than white inmates. Inmates who already have a high education level when entering prison are,
as expected, less likely to need and therefore use a GED program once incarcerated. The
information about length in sentence and the relationship this has with GED classes is also of
note. This study indicates that individuals who have a shorter sentence are more likely to take
part in a GED program. The potential for post-release benefits perhaps explains this correlation.
The most interesting data noted above is the relationship between prisoners and their children
and an inmate’s propensity to get a GED. The data above seems to reflect a correlation between
prisoners who are involved with their children and the decision to pursue an educational program
such as the GED
47
Regression 2: Dependent Variable Educational Awareness in Corrections
Model 93
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
.159
.874
.071
-.149
-2.248
.026
.047
.073
.045
.651
.515
Black
-.026
.081
-.038
-.317
.751
White
.020
.081
.029
.245
.806
-.003
.003
-.063
-.965
.336
# Of Times Arrested***
.007
.002
.185
2.861
.005
Contact With Children
.047
.062
.050
.749
.454
Public Defender
-.015
.051
-.020
-.301
.764
Education Level
-.003
.009
-.024
-.373
.710
Work**
-.110
.047
-.151
-2.325
.021
Length of Sentence Years
.059
-.161
Sig.
.011
Spanish
.009
t
.000
Military**
.370
Beta
4.014
Sex
1.487
Coefficients
R: .304 and R Square: .092
F: 2.080
This regression compares participation in educational awareness programs while
incarcerated and notes a correlation, while all other data is held constant, with the number of
times an inmate has been arrested. The correlation level is low noting a .7% greater likelihood to
participate in educational awareness programs if an inmate has a high number of arrests. This is
noteworthy at a better than .005 statistical significance of the model. The empirical data states
that inmates with increased arrest rates are sometimes mandated to take classes. These factors
may influence the numeric statistic. Inmates who served in the U.S. armed forces are 16.1% less
likely to participate in an education awareness program. This is true at a .026 significance level
when all other independent variables are held constant. The presentation of this information in
93
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
48
the dataset follows an expected trend because there is a fair assumption that can be made which
states that individuals who served in the military are likely to already have higher education
levels. Furthermore, inmates who were working the week before their arrest are 11% less likely
to participate in an educational awareness program. This is statistically significant at the .021
levels holding all else constant. This is also an expected correlation because individuals who
hold jobs are more likely to have some educational background, which would exclude them from
education awareness programs.
Regression 3: Required to Use Education Program
Model
94
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
.742
.645
.080
.104
Military
-.127
Spanish
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
1.150
.252
.064
.765
.446
.141
-.073
-.902
.368
-.056
.125
-.037
-.443
.658
Black*
.252
.151
.255
1.671
.097
White**
.300
.148
.300
2.020
.045
Length of Sentence Years*
.010
.006
.140
1.765
.080
# Of Times Arrested
.001
.006
.017
.211
.833
-.038
.117
-.026
-.326
.745
Public Defender
.080
.090
.074
.894
.373
Education Level
.000
.016
-.002
-.025
.980
-.072
.081
-.069
-.883
.378
Sex
Contact With Children
Work
R: .241 and R Square: .058
F .901
Mandated education programs have statistical significance when correlated with three of
the independent variables. Black inmates, when all other independent variables are held constant,
94
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
49
are 25.2% more likely to have the correctional facility in which they are housed require them to
use an education program. This occurs at a .097 significance level. Similarly, white inmates are
30% more likely to be required to use an education program then inmates of other racial groups.
Inmates with shorter sentences are 1% more likely to be required to participate in education
programs. This takes place at a .080 significance level. The data in this regression does not
provide any definitive clues as to why there is a correlation however, given the size, of the
regressions for the race variables the data does seem to indicate that blacks and whites are more
likely to be instructed to attend education classes.
Regression 4: Dependent Variable Any Time Spent Reading
Model 95
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
1.371
.206
Sex
.006
.036
Military
.026
Spanish**
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
6.661
.000
.006
.159
.874
.043
.023
.609
.543
-.084
.038
-.089
-2.221
.027
Black
-.055
.046
-.075
-1.199
.231
White
.037
.045
.049
.821
.412
Length of Sentence Years
.000
.001
-.011
-.300
.765
-.001
.002
-.012
-.330
.741
.084
.038
.081
2.228
.026
Public Defender
-.019
.029
-.023
-.631
.528
Education Level**
-.010
.005
-.074
-2.001
.046
Work
-.031
.029
-.039
-1.086
.278
# Of Times Arrested
Contact With Children**
R: .177 and R Square: .031
F: 2.296
95
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
50
Data in this study suggests that Hispanic inmates spend 8.4% less time reading while
incarcerated then inmates of other races. This happens at a .027 significance level as long as all
other independent variables are held constant. The data recorded here is likely due to the fact that
there are fewer books available in Spanish and therefore some Hispanic inmates may be unable
to comfortably read the available material. Inmates who have contact with their children are
8.4% more likely to spend time reading. This correlation when combined with the information
stated above about the greater likelihood of these inmates to be enrolled in GED classes suggests
a relationship between reading and education classes. Education courses may have required
reading. This statistic occurs at a .026 significance level. Inmates with lower levels of education
are also 1% less likely to spend time reading. When all else is held constant this occurs at a .046
significance level. This relationship makes sense because inmates that have less education have a
lower likelihood to feel ease while reading and therefore would spend less time engaging in it as
their leisure activity.
51
Regression 5: Religious Activities
Model 96
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
1.878
.270
Sex***
-.223
.046
Military
-.020
Spanish
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
6.960
.000
-.171
-4.826
.000
.057
-.013
-.358
.720
-.051
.049
-.041
-1.040
.298
Black
-.031
.060
-.031
-.520
.604
White*
-.109
.058
-.108
-1.880
.061
Length of Sentence Years
-.002
.002
-.042
-1.201
.230
# Of Times Arrested
.003
.002
.042
1.215
.225
Contact With Children
.030
.048
.022
.625
.532
Public Defender*
.068
.039
.063
1.763
.078
Education Level
-.008
.007
-.044
-1.211
.226
.118
.037
.109
3.154
.002
Work***
R: .237 and R Square: .056
F: 4.404
When holding all other variables constant, the sex variable indicates a correlation
between females and participation in religious activities. In this case females are 22.3% more
likely to participate then males. This information is significant based on .000 of the rest of the
model. Inmates that held jobs also show a statistically significant correlation. Those that worked
before incarceration were 11.8% more likely to participate in religious activities at a .002
significance level, while all other data is being held constant. White inmates are 10.9% less
likely to participate in religious activities when all other variables are held constant. This
regression is statistically significant at .061. Additionally, inmates that were represented in court
by a public defender were 6.8% more likely to attend a religious service. This data is statistically
96
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
52
significant at .078. The connection between religious activities and the independent variables at
which statistical significance was noted provides interesting data, but more research is necessary
to explain these correlations.
Regression 6: Work off Prison Grounds
Model 97
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
2.008
.078
Sex***
-.034
.013
Military
.003
Spanish
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
25.709
.000
-.092
-2.573
.010
.016
.006
.163
.870
-.018
.014
-.051
-1.291
.197
Black
-.003
.017
-.011
-.174
.862
White
.031
.017
.107
1.836
.067
Length of Sentence Years*
.001
.001
.061
1.745
.081
# Of Times Arrested
.000
.001
.009
.260
.795
Contact With Children
.017
.014
.043
1.217
.224
Public Defender
-.006
.011
-.021
-.579
.563
Education Level
-.001
.002
-.027
-.746
.456
Work
-.009
.011
-.030
-.857
.392
R: .183 and R Square: .034
F: 2.574
The correlation here is low but follows that female inmates are more likely to be given
the opportunity to work off prison grounds. These programs exist only in minimum-security
facilities where inmates are given clearance to leave the prison. 98 Holding all other data constant,
males are 3.4% less likely to work off prison grounds. This is significant at .010 of the model.
97
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
98
Sheriffs Office. “Inmate Work Programs.” Washington County Sheriffs Office. Washington County
Sheriffs Office. Web. <http://www.co.washington.or.us/Sheriff/Jail/JailPrograms/inmate-workprograms.cfm.>
53
Inmates serving a longer length of sentence are .1% more likely to work off prison grounds. The
statistical significance of this correlation occurs at a .081 significance level. While the
percentage here is low an explanation for this relationship may reflect circumstances whereby
inmates serving long sentences can work up privileges that enable them to work assignments
outside of the detention center.
Regression 7: Hours Worked Last Week
Model 99
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
-183.645
74.287
Sex
4.055
10.218
Military
1.451
Spanish*
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
-2.472
.048
.113
.397
.705
15.429
.026
.094
.928
39.488
18.857
.708
2.094
.081
White
1.906
14.892
.045
.128
.902
Length of Sentence Years
2.507
1.464
.530
1.713
.138
# Of Times Arrested
1.112
.925
.358
1.203
.274
Contact With Children
38.165
36.307
.500
1.051
.334
Public Defender
12.327
10.324
.338
1.194
.278
Education Level
2.450
3.160
.308
.775
.468
14.090
11.169
.386
1.262
.254
Work
R: .854 and R Square: .730
F: 1.622
Hispanic inmates, when all other data is held constant, work 394.88% more hours then
inmates of other races. This correlation occurs at a .081 significance level. The percentage over
other inmates reflects a very large numeric relationship and would need to be supplanted with
further statistical and empirical data to explain the causality of this correlation.
99
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
54
Regression 8: Paid for Work
Model 100
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
1.173
.112
-.023
.019
Military
.009
Spanish*
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
10.496
.000
-.046
-1.213
.226
.024
.014
.361
.718
-.035
.020
-.072
-1.736
.083
Black
-.030
.025
-.078
-1.205
.229
White
-.034
.024
-.086
-1.390
.165
.001
.001
.068
1.823
.069
-.001
.001
-.019
-.505
.614
Contact With Children
.003
.021
.006
.156
.876
Public Defender
.008
.016
.020
.529
.597
Education Level
.002
.003
.023
.597
.551
-.006
.016
-.014
-.378
.705
Sex
Length of Sentence Years
# Of Times Arrested
Work
R: .128 and R Square: .016
F: 1.124
Identified as the largest group participating in work programs, Hispanic inmates in this
regression are 3.5% less likely to be involved when they are paid for work. This happens at a
.083 significance level but may indicate an error because it does not follow the expected
correlations between incentives and participation in programs.
100
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
55
Regression 9: Non-Monetary Reward
Model 101
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
1.906
.138
-.033
.023
Military
.008
Spanish
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
13.823
.000
-.053
-1.392
.164
.029
.010
.264
.792
-.020
.025
-.033
-.809
.418
Black
-.012
.031
-.025
-.381
.704
White
.041
.030
.084
1.348
.178
Length of Sentence Years
.001
.001
.035
.945
.345
5.048E-5
.001
.001
.040
.968
Contact With Children
.016
.026
.023
.627
.531
Public Defender
.012
.019
.023
.620
.535
Education Level
-.002
.003
-.026
-.674
.501
.022
.019
.042
1.130
.259
Sex
# Of Times Arrested
Work
R: .135 and R Square: .018
F: 1.263
Non-monetary reward did not provide a statistically significant explanation or connection
between the independent variables and the dependent variable.
101
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
56
Regression 10: Vocational Training
Model 102
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
1.659
.259
Sex***
-.136
.045
Military
-.062
Spanish
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
6.408
.000
-.108
-3.056
.002
.054
-.041
-1.143
.254
.007
.047
.006
.142
.887
Black**
.135
.058
.142
2.349
.019
White
.054
.056
.055
.967
.334
-.006
.002
-.134
-3.854
.000
# Of Times Arrested
.001
.002
.021
.612
.541
Contact With Children**
.110
.046
.083
2.379
.018
Public Defender
-.046
.037
-.044
-1.233
.218
Education Level
-.009
.006
-.049
-1.370
.171
.052
.036
.050
1.445
.149
Length of Sentence Years***
Work
R: .244 and R Square: .060
F: 4.680
Females, holding all other factors constant according to this data, are 13.6% less likely to
participate in vocational training programs then males. This is based on a .002 significance level.
A plausible explanation for this correlation could be that vocational training programs are more
often provided at male facilities. 103 Additionally, inmates with shorter sentences are less likely
by .6% to participate in vocational training programs. This occurs at a .000 significance level.
Black inmates are 13.5% more likely to participate in a vocational training program when all
other independent variables are held constant. This occurs at a .019 significance level.
Additionally, inmates who are in contact with their children are 11% more likely to obtain
102
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
103
Clear, Todd R., George F. Cole, and Michael Dean Reisig. American Corrections. Belmont, CA:
Thomson Wadsowrth, 2009. (p. 301)
57
vocational training. This takes place at a .018 significance level. This correlation continues the
trend that suggests inmates who are in contact with their children are more likely to take part in
educational advancement programs.
Regression 11: Other Education Programs
Model 104
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
.920
.270
.053
.047
-.131
Spanish
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
3.408
.001
.041
1.147
.252
.057
-.083
-2.308
.021
.006
.049
.005
.115
.908
Black
.129
.060
.130
2.141
.033
White (Final2)
.093
.058
.092
1.605
.109
-.002
.002
-.048
-1.367
.172
# Of Times Arrested
.003
.002
.045
1.305
.192
Contact With Children***
.231
.048
.168
4.775
.000
Public Defender
.037
.039
.034
.944
.345
Education Level**
.014
.007
.078
2.148
.032
.010
.037
.009
.273
.785
Sex
Military**
Length of Sentence Years
New Work
R: .237 and R Square: .056
F: 4.370
Participation in other educational programs outside of vocational training compared with
the independent variables shows a connection between participation in alternative educational
programs and contact with children. Inmates who communicate with their children are 23% more
likely to take part in other education programs. This is based on a .000 statistical significance
level. The correlation may suggest that family members provide incentives for individuals to
104
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
58
participate in various forms of educational programs. Inmates who served in the military are
13.1% less likely to take other educational programs. This is occurring at a .021 significance
level when all other independent variables are held constant. This data reflects similar results to
inmates who were in the military before they entered corrections and are now less likely to take a
part in traditional education classes. Inmates with lower education levels are also 1.4% more
likely to join in other education programs. This takes place at a .032 significance level. This
correlation also reflects an expected relationship that inmates with less education may participate
in education programs once incarcerated.
Regression 12: Religious Study Group
Model 105
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
1.789
.251
Sex
-.065
.043
Military
-.032
Spanish
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
7.121
.000
-.054
-1.500
.134
.053
-.022
-.612
.541
-.028
.046
-.024
-.616
.538
.015
.056
.016
.269
.788
White (Final2)
-.063
.054
-.067
-1.154
.249
Length of Sentence Years
-.001
.002
-.030
-.841
.400
# Of Times Arrested**
.006
.002
.089
2.530
.012
Contact With Children***
.075
.045
.059
1.666
.096
Public Defender
.040
.036
.040
1.117
.264
Education Level
-.006
.006
-.036
-.980
.327
.074
.035
.075
2.127
.034
Black
Work**
R: .182 and R Square: .033
F: 3.277
105
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
59
The more times an inmate is arrested the greater chance they have of being in a religious
study group. The data indicates that these inmates are .6% more likely to do so at a .012
significance level. Consistent with the data in other regressions there is a relationship between
inmates having contact with their children and participating in prison programs. Inmates who do
have contact are 7.5% more likely to attend a religious study group. This occurs at a .096
significance level. Inmates who worked the week before their arrest also are noted to be more
likely to attend a religious study group by 7.4%. This relationship, while all other independent
variables are held constant occurs at a .034 significance level. Both the variables of contact with
children and work when regressed suggest that individuals who had some stability either through
a family relationship, a job or both are more likely to involve themselves with religious study
groups, or as seen earlier, other educational programs.
60
Regression 13: Ethnic/Racial Organization
Model 106
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
2.503
.136
Sex**
-.050
.023
Military
-.034
Spanish
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
18.460
.000
-.076
-2.128
.034
.028
-.044
-1.204
.229
-.030
.025
-.047
-1.208
.227
Black***
-.109
.030
-.221
-3.625
.000
White ***
-.134
.029
-.265
-4.589
.000
Length of Sentence Years***
-.003
.001
-.107
-3.050
.002
-2.098E-6
.001
.000
-.002
.999
.019
.024
.028
.791
.429
-.005
.019
-.009
-.249
.803
-9.138E-5
.003
-.001
-.027
.978
.004
.019
.008
.219
.826
# Of Times Arrested
Contact With Children
Public Defender
Education Level
Work
R: .206 and R Square: .043
F: 3.277
Inmates that participate in ethnic and racial organizations can be identified through a
series of independent variables. Black inmates are 10.9% less likely to participate in ethnic
organizations then inmates of other racial groups. This is recorded at the .000 level of statistical
significance. White inmates are also 13.4% less likely to be members of ethnic or racial
organizations at the .000 level of statistical significance. This is likely to come from the fact that
white inmates are generally less inclined to organize themselves in groups focused around racial
issues. Females are shown in the data to be 5% more likely to participate in ethnic/racial
organizations then males. This happens at a .034 statistical significance level. Also, inmates with
106
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
61
shorter sentences are .3% less likely to become members of an ethnic/racial organization. This
occurs at a .002 significance level.
Regression 14: Inmate Assistance Group
Model 107
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
2.114
.137
Sex*
-.075
.024
Military*
-.089
Spanish
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
15.401
.000
-.112
-3.150
.002
.029
-.112
-3.096
.002
.038
.025
.060
1.529
.127
Black
.017
.031
.034
.561
.575
White
.026
.030
.050
.863
.388
-.002
.001
-.096
-2.742
.006
.002
.001
.055
1.594
.111
-.023
.025
-.032
-.919
.358
Public Defender
.025
.020
.046
1.283
.200
Education Level*
-.009
.003
-.101
-2.774
.006
.043
.019
.079
2.256
.024
Length of Sentence Years*
# Of Times Arrested
Contact With Children
Work**
R: 226 and R Square: .051
F: 3.954
Inmate assistance groups when placed in correlation with the independent variables show
sex, military status, length of one’s sentence and education level to be strong indicators of
participation tendencies while holding each of the other factors constant. Females are 7.5% less
likely to participate in inmate assistance organizations, occurring at a .002 significance level.
Inmates that served in the U.S. Armed Forces are also 8.9% less likely to participate in inmate
assistance groups. This also happens at a .002 significance level. Those with a shorter length of
107
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
62
sentence are .2% less likely to participate in inmate assistance groups occurring at the .006 level
of statistical importance. Furthermore, inmates that have higher levels of education are .9% less
likely to take part in inmate assistance groups as represented by the dependent variable. This
occurs at a .006 statistical significance. Inmates who worked the week before their arrest are
4.3% more likely to join an inmate assistance group. The statistical significance exists at .024.
The conclusions suggested in this regression propose correlations that lay outside the scope of
this study.
Regression 15: Other Inmate Self Help Groups
Model
108
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
2.135
.155
Sex***
-.092
.027
Military
-.018
Spanish
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
13.802
.000
-.123
-3.442
.001
.032
-.020
-.551
.582
-.019
.028
-.026
-.671
.503
Black
.017
.034
.029
.482
.630
White
.009
.033
.016
.280
.779
-.003
.001
-.113
-3.233
.001
# Of Times Arrested
.002
.001
.039
1.130
.259
Contact With Children
.029
.028
.037
1.046
.296
Public Defender
.014
.022
.022
.619
.536
-.011
.004
-.110
-3.003
.003
.016
.021
.026
.738
.461
Length of Sentence Years***
Education Level***
Work
R: .212 and R Square: .045
F: 3.495
Correlation exists between the independent variables and the inmate self help groups here
represented as the dependent variable. Females have a 9.2% higher chance of participating. This
108
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
63
occurs at a .001 level of significance. Inmates with shorter sentences are less likely to participate
in other inmate self help groups by .3% at a .001 level of statistical significance. Furthermore,
inmates with higher education level are 1.1% more likely to join an inmate self help group. This
takes place at a .003 significance level. Here the statistical evidence follows the existing trends in
the data that suggest inmates who enter with higher education levels are more likely to join
organizations within prison. The theoretical data provided concerning the role of education also
seems to hold true in prison where inmates that enter with higher education levels seem to
participate politically while incarcerated.
Regression 16: Employment Counseling
Model 109
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
2.121
.173
Sex***
-.104
.030
Military
-3.954E-5
Spanish
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
12.231
.000
-.125
-3.483
.001
.036
.000
-.001
.999
-.020
.031
-.025
-.645
.519
Black
-.011
.039
-.017
-.275
.783
White
-.049
.037
-.076
-1.303
.193
Length of Sentence Years
.001
.001
.043
1.232
.218
# Of Times Arrested
.002
.002
.044
1.259
.208
Contact With Children*
.055
.031
.063
1.779
.076
Public Defender
-.012
.025
-.018
-.502
.616
Education Level
-.004
.004
-.035
-.950
.342
Work
-.007
.024
-.010
-.293
.770
R: .182 and R Square: .033
F: 2.531
109
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
64
Female inmates are 10% more likely to take part in employment counseling then male
inmates. This is reflected in the data at the .001 significance level. This follows the above data
that indicate females are more likely to participate in prison organizations then males.
Additionally, inmates who have contact with their children are 5.5% more likely to utilize
employment counseling. The data shows this at a .076 significance level. Again this indicates a
trend amongst inmates who communicate with their children and suggests that they are more
likely to engage in political and civic activities while incarcerated.
Regression 17: Other Pre-Release Programs
Model 110
Standardized
Unstandardized Coefficients
B
1
(Constant)
Std. Error
1.926
.157
-.029
.027
Military
.007
Spanish*
Black
Coefficients
Beta
t
Sig.
12.268
.000
-.038
-1.071
.284
.033
.007
.204
.839
-.075
.028
-.105
-2.649
.008
-.001
.035
-.001
-.018
.986
White***
.057
.034
.098
1.678
.094
Length of Sentence Years**
.002
.001
.086
2.445
.015
# Of Times Arrested
.000
.001
.012
.343
.732
Contact With Children**
.056
.028
.070
1.969
.049
Public Defender
-.028
.022
-.044
-1.228
.220
Education Level
.000
.004
-.002
-.043
.965
-.005
.022
-.008
-.230
.818
Sex
Work
R: .184 and R Square: .034
F: 2.571
110
The following data is coded to indicate the level of significance. A variable that is at .10 or less is
significant at the 10% level and noted by *. A variable that is at .05 or less is significant at the 5% level
and is noted by **. A variable that is .010 or less is significant at the 1% level and noted with ***.
65
Hispanic inmates, when contrasted with the dependent variable and holding all other
independent variables constant, are 7.5% less likely to become members and participate in prerelease programs. Occurring at a .008 significance level this information falls within the
guidelines for statistical relevance. White inmates are 5.7% more likely to participate in other
pre-release programs then inmates of other races. This happens at a .094 significance level.
Inmates with longer sentences are .2% more likely to take part in other pre-release programs.
This correlation happens at the .015 level of statistical significance. This statistical relationship
seems to make sense because the longer an individual is incarcerated the more assistance they
would need from a reintegration program. Inmates who are in contact with their children are
5.6% more likely to join pre-release programs. This is stated at a .049 significance level.
Discussion
Linear probability regressions provide a comparison between a series of independent
variables and a singular dependent variable. In the data provided above there are a series of fiftythree statistically significant cases. These cases do not offer comprehensive proof that correlation
exists but rather provide a recommendation and further support as to what empirical data may
hold greatest value. In the case of the BJS dataset many of the regressions did not provide
statistically significant percentages below the 10% occurrence level. The data is considered
conclusive only at this percentage or less. When these statistically significant numbers are
combined with theoretical information about an individual’s propensity to participate and what
we know of prison programs, a greater recognition of the possible causes of correlation can be
established.
66
A series of conclusions can be drawn based on the numeric data presented in the above
regressions. Inmates with shorter sentences may be more likely to participate in political and
civic activities behind bars, specifically programs considered to provide educational or skill
based training. In addition, inmates with shorter sentences may engage in rehabilitative type
programs that provide skills for post-release. This data, while not unexpected, bolsters the
importance of encouraging inmates who are serving longer sentences to participate in programs
that can aid in their post-release process and support reintegration into their communities.
Statistical significance also exists between inmates who were educated before they
entered prison and participation in political organizations once incarcerated. Education and
political participation are correlated both in the data provided by the BJS study as well as
through the theoretical data. As inmates obtain higher levels of education they are as much as
4.7% more likely to be a part of a political organization. These individuals may take part in the
political environment of the prison system because they now possess skills that are useful to both
themselves and other inmates. Given that not all inmates acquire an education while incarcerated
those that elect to do so are making a decision to advance their capabilities.
One regression provided both statistically and theoretically interesting data that falls
outside of the conventional assumptions utilized today. When connections with family members
were compared with participation in all other recorded prison educational programs, inmates
with ties to their children were as much as 23% more likely to take part. This percentage reflects
a strong value and may indicate that family ties produce a significant impact on the decisions of
individuals in prison.
Taking what the BJS data tells us and applying the knowledge we possess about the
power of direct requests for action, families can be imposing motivators. Verba, Brady and
67
Scholzman’s study (p. 13) demonstrates this. Inmates that have family support and communicate
with their children have the incentive of family requests and accountability that may drive their
decision to take part in educational organizations. In this way families can become the
inspiration for participation. With increased exposure to educational and political activities
within prison inmates may have a greater likelihood to make lifestyle changes once released.
This may indicate a continued sense of responsibility for their families. Though these are just
hypotheses, the correlation does suggest a probable influence between communication with
children and inmates choosing to pursue an education.
Part V: Conclusion
Political participation in America is framed in political science literature as the way in
which citizen’s elect, respond and influence the actions of government. Voting, for the most part,
is viewed as the fundamental political action, yet it is limited in the effect that one individual has
on the decisions of policy makers. It is the cumulative action of individuals voting that makes a
true impact. In the larger scope of participation practices political and civic organizations as well
as political community gatherings offer ways for individuals to have greater involvement in the
political process. Viewing these activities as the only real forms of political participation is still
too limited. In this paper political participation is defined as activities that seek to affect the
current power structure existing within one’s environment.
Verba, Brady and Scholzman present three contributing influences that enable individuals
to take part in politics. They site resources, mobilization and motivation as the necessary factors
that facilitate participation. Limiting these factors can inhibit participation and exclude some
individuals. Though I recognize the accuracy of their interpretation, I believe it fails to take into
68
account the larger causes that shape an individual’s determination to participate. The dynamic
interplay of influences has greater range and impact than the extent of their model. According to
Craig Rimmerman; “…Three elements must be present if meaningful and effective citizen
participation is to be achieved: (1) a sense of community identity; (2) education and the
development of citizenship; and (3) self-determination by those participating.” 111 Rimmerman’s
presentation of political participation bolsters my argument by identifying both community and
education as essentials for participation to occur. I use Verba, Brady and Scholzman’s standards
to organize my examination of political participation and apply a broad base of principals to the
study of inmates in prison programs.
Inmates in state and federal penitentiaries are an unconventional group to examine in the
context of political participation. Scholars have not traditionally viewed them as political actors,
yet they possess a strong political will that is carried out through their participation in prison
programs. These individuals can also be identified as unconventional due to their circumstances,
which forces their political actions to be taken up, at least some of the time, with nongovernmental actors. By viewing excepted political science theory through the unconventional
lens provided by the prison participation model a fresh observation of political participation
occurs.
Throughout the long history of the American penal system inmates have taken advantage
of prison programs. While some of the organizations in prison have experienced instability they
give insight into the political environment that existed and still exists in penitentiaries today. The
BJS study data suggests a series of explanations for why inmates take part in these programs.
The statistics shown above indicate that an inmate’s relationship with their children may play a
111
Rimmerman, Craig A. The New Citizenship: Unconventional Politics, Activism, and Service. Boulder;
Westview Press, 2010. (p. 19)
69
significant role in defining a prisoner’s political participation. There is a strong correlation
indicating that education is a tool used by inmates who are in contact with their children. This
involvement is political for the opportunities it affords prisoners for self-betterment as well as the
empowerment to alter their current standards of living. In the context of incarceration, education,
I believe, is a powerful tool for political advocacy. The prison lawyering program and inmate
advisory groups represent the effectiveness of education as a political instrument. To participate
in these programs inmates rely on their educational background to act as the groundwork for
their political advocating. Both theoretical and practical ramifications on public policies are
drawn from the combined statistical and empirical information.
Theoretical Implications
Participation is driven by a desire to be politically involved, but additional factors may
limit who can take part. In society as a whole, resources such as time and affluence award
specific individuals the potential to participate more than others or in ways that have a greater
impact. The prison participation model expressed above reconsiders the necessity for resources,
mobilization and motivation that Verba, Brady and Scholzman place on participation for
individuals outside of prison. Once incarcerated the playing field is somewhat leveled;
participation no longer relies so resolutely on an individual’s own resources since barriers such
as time and social capital are rendered somewhat obsolete by the prison environment. Most
inmates find themselves with equal time and opportunity. Unless an inmate is facing the death
penalty or has been placed in solitary confinement due to rule violations they are free to
participate in prison programs. The one change from the requirements found in general
70
participation literature, access to resources, could be considered the difference between why
individuals become participants once incarcerated even if they have not taken part before.
Further, resources are provided by prison programs which offer inmates an opportunity
for education, vocational training, religious involvement, advisory committees, and assistance
groups. To participate inmates need mobilization and motivation. My study suggests that inmates
choose to participate using comparable incentives as those of individual’s taking part in politics
outside of prison. Encouragement may come from family, friends and community. The
regressions run on the BJS data suggests that a significant incentive may come from an
individual’s communication and involvement with their children. In this case inmates can find
their ability to participate in the unexpected setting of detention.
Through prison programs inmates are capable of actively informing the policies and
services available in prisons. They use political actions that include negotiation, lobbying, rioting
and striking to obtain desired outcomes. The political nature of prison programs is evidenced in
the ways that inmates have successfully transformed prison policy.
Education introduces and encourages practices that are often essential aspects of political
participation. Individuals who take part in these activities have a greater tendency to participate
politically. Education empowers individuals by enhancing their ability to succeed. As Lockner
and Moretti point out education has a two-fold impact on society. Individuals who become
educated are less likely to commit crimes. This can reduce costs for incarceration. “A 1%
increase in the high school completion rate of all men ages 20-60 would save the United States
as much as $1.4 billion per year in reduced costs from crime incurred by victims and society at
71
large.” 112 In the case of inmates, education provides tools that may enable individuals to rejoin
society and reshape their lives after prison. Similarly, involvement in religious organizations
seems to provide incentives and opportunities for political engagement. The reason for this is
that they introduce and encourage political participation practices.
Practical Implications
It is my belief that prison has the capacity to build engaged citizens by providing
individuals opportunities to participate in prison activities that are by their nature political. Many
individuals devote significant portions of their time on political and civic activities once they are
behind prison walls. One important reason might be that inmates are suddenly placed in an
environment where the factors that previously inhibited participation are either eliminated or
reduced in significance. While some inmates enter the penal system with advantages in education
level or even with regards to their previous prison experience, many of the reasons that hindered
political participation, such as time and financial resources, are equalized. Without the factors
that may have prevented them from participating in political activity outside prison, once inside,
individuals can find increased opportunities for participation.
The benefits of political participation inside the penitentiary system are similar to those
outside of prison. Inmates that take part in political and civic activities gain greater power within
their prison community and the facility at large. Inmates who are engaged often gain higher
standing amongst guards and prison administrators which leads to benefits and improvements in
their overall lifestyles. The converse effect can also be found, when punishments and decreased
112
Lochner, Lance, and Enrico Moretti. “The Effects of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison
Inmates Arrests, and Self Reports." Oct. 2003. Web. <http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/~moretti/lm46.pdf>.
(p. 27)
72
privileges are meted out. Other inmates within the detention center often look up to those who
participate in prison programs.
If we accept the correlations between an inmates’ relationship to their children and
educational participation then it is possible for a series of new post-release programs to be
established. Correctional facilities can aid in ensuring relationships with families are maintained
throughout an inmate’s incarceration by mandating that prisoners with families be held at the
nearest facility to family members and be given priority for visitation by expanding visiting
hours and providing free or inexpensive transportation to the facility if local transport does not
exist. After an inmate has satisfied their mandated sentence, programs can be set up that reach
out to inmates and encourage further education or vocational training as well as political and
civic involvement within their communities. Rehabilitation programs that incorporate families
and community members into the process could perhaps, see the same results of an increase in
participation levels that are noted in the incarceration study. Further research would be necessary
to determine if there are long-term impacts of communication with families, but barring those
results I think it fair to suggest that inmates who have relationships with there children do feel
some level of responsibility to participate. In some states these programs even reunite families
that were separated by incarceration. The integration of children and families in this continued
process of rehabilitation may help to reduce rates of recidivism and crime. 113 These concepts,
which rely on the coordination between correctional facilities, post-release and probation
programs as well as the families themselves, takes the information gleaned from the above
research and uses it to have a positive impact on high risk communities.
113
Johnson, Stephan. “Local Program Helps Reduce Recidivism Rate –FOX41.com Louisville News
Kentucky Indiana News Weather Sports.” FOX41.com Louisville News Kentucky Indiana News Weather
and Sports – Home. 15 Dec. 2010. Web. <http://www.fox41.com/story/13679376/local-program-helpsreduce-recidivism-rate>.
73
Works Cited
About the FILM – Angola 3: Black Panthers and the LSP.” Angola 3: Black Panthers and the
LSP. Web. <http://3blackpanthers.org/about/>.
Bureau of Justice Statistics, and United States Department of Justice. Survey of Inmates in State
and Federal Correctional Facilities, 2004. 28. Feb. 2007. Raw Data. National Archive of
Criminal Justice Data, Ann Arbor. (pp.7-10)
Clear, Todd R., George F. Cole, and Michael Dean Reisig. American Corrections. Belmont, CA:
Thomson Wadsowrth, 2009.
De Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America. 2nd ed. Vol. 2. Democracy in America.
Gutenberg E-book, 21 Jan. 2006. Web. <http://www.gutenberg.org/files/816/816-h/816-h.htm>.
“Eligibility Requirements for OPD Services” King County, Washington. Web.
<http://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/OPD/WhoWeServe.aspx>.
Farabee, David. Rethinking Rehabilitation: Why Can’t We Reform Our Criminals? Washington,
D.C.: AEI, 2005.
Frey, William H., Bill Abresch, and Jonathan Yeasting. America by the Numbers: A Field Guide
to the U.S. Population. New York: New Press, 2001.
Gramsci, Antonio, and Joseph A. Buttigieg. Prison Notebooks. Vol. 2. New York: Columbia
University Press, 1992.
Harrison, Paige M., and Allen J. Beck. “Prisoners in 2004.” Bureau of Justice Statistics Bulletin.
US Department of Justice: Office of Justice Programs, Oct. 2005. Web.
<http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/pub/pdf/p04.pdf>.
Irwin, John. Lifers: Seeking Redemption in Prison. New York: Routledge, 2009.
Johnson, Stephan. “Local Program Helps Reduce Recidivism Rate –FOX41.com Louisville
News Kentucky Indiana News Weather Sports.” FOX41.com Louisville News Kentucky Indiana
News Weather and Sports – Home. 15 Dec. 2010. Web.
<http://www.fox41.com/story/13679376/local-program-helps-reduce-recidivism-rate>.
Jacobs, James B. “Stratification and Conflict Among Prison Inmates.” The Journal of Criminal
Law and Criminology 66.4 (1975) 476-82. JSTOR. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1142887>.
Kerley, Kent R., Todd L. Matthews, and Troy C. Blanchard. “Religiosity, Religious
Participation, and Negative Prison Behaviors.” Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 44.4
(2005): 443-57. JSTOR. Web. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/3590556>.
74
Leighley, Jan E., ed. The Oxford Handbook of American Elections and Political Behavior. New
York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010.
Leighley, Jan E. “Social Interaction and Contextual Influences on Political Participation>”
American Politics Research 18.459 (2011) 459-75. Web.
<http://apr.sagepub.com/content/18/4/459.full.pdf>.
Lochner, Lance, and Enrico Moretti. “The Effects of Education on Crime: Evidence from Prison
Inmates Arrests, and Self Reports." Oct. 2003. Web.
<http://www.econ.berkeley.edu/~moretti/lm46.pdf>.
McShane, Marilyn D., and Frank P. Williams III., ed. Encyclopedia of American Prisons. New
York: Garland Publishing Inc., 1996.
McKelvey, Blake. American Prisons: A History of Good Intentions. Montclair, NJ: P. Smith,
1977.
Michigan.gov. “Michigan Department of Corrections: Policy Directives: Prison Programs and
Organizations.” Michigan Department of Corrections: Policy Directives. Michigan.gov, 24 May
2004. Web.
Moore, Solomon. “In U.S. prison Spending Outpaces All but Medicaid.” The New York Times.
The New York Times, 2008. Web. <http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/03/world/americas/03iht03prison.20546833.html>.
Morris, Norval, and David J. Rothman. The Oxford History of the Prison: The Practice of
Punishment in Western Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.
Newport, Frank. “How Do You Define ‘Likely Voters’?” Gallup.Com – Daily News, Polls,
Public Opinion on Government, Politics, Economics, Management. Gallup, 23 May 2000. Web.
<http://www.gallup.com/poll/4636/how-define-likely-voters.aspx>.
Pahad, Dr. Essop. “Political Participation and Civic Engagement: Citizens and the State”
Progressive Politics 4.2 (2005) Web. <www.policynetwork.net/uploadedFiles/Publications/.../Pahad-final.pdf>.
Pateman, Carol. Participation and Democratic Theory. New York: Cambridge University Press,
1970.
Putnam, Robert D. Bowling Alone. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2000.
Quintelie, Ellen. “The Effect of Schools on Political Participation: A Multilevel Logistic
Analysis.” Research papers in Education: Policy in Practice 25.2 (2010): 137-54. Informaworld.
Web.
<http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/section?content=a906730427&fulltext=713240928>.
75
Rimmerman, Craig A. The New Citizenship: Unconventional Politics, Activism, and Service.
Boulder; Westview Press, 2010.
Rottinghaus, Brandon. “Incarceration and Enfranchisement: International Practices, Impact and
Recommendations for Reform.” International Foundation for Election Systems (June-July 2003)
1-46. Web. http://felonvoting.procon.org/sourcefiles/RottinghausDisenfranchisement.pdf
Schembi, Anthony J. “Scared Straight Programs: Jail and Detention Tours.” Florida State
Juvenile Corrections. Department of Juvenile Justice. Web.
<http://www.djj.state.fl.us/Research/Scared_Straight_Booklet_Version.pdf>.
Schudson, Michael. The Good Citizen: A History of American Civic Life. New York: Martin
Kessler, 1998.
Sheriffs Office. “Inmate Work Programs.” Washington County Sheriffs Office. Washington
County Sheriffs Office. Web.
<http://www.co.washington.or.us/Sheriff/Jail/JailPrograms/inmate-work-programs.cfm.>
Soss, Joe. Unwanted Claims: The Politics of Participation in the U.S. Welfare System. Ann
Arbor: University of Michigan, 2002.
The Associated Press. “Nation’s Inmate Population Increased 2.3 Percent Last Year.” The New
York Times. The New York Times, 25 Apr. 2005. Web.
<http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/25/politics/25prison.html>.
Time Magazine. The Law: Jaycees in Prison –TIME.” Breaking News, Analysis, Politics, Blogs,
News Photos, Video, Tech Reviews – TIM.com. 20 Sept. 1971. Web.
<http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,910004-2,00.html>.
Uggen, Christopher, and Jeff Manza. “Symposium on Race, Crime, and Voting: Social, political,
and philosophical perspectives on felony disenfranchisement in America: Voting and subsequent
crime and arrest: evidence from a community sample.” Columbia Human Rights Law Review
36.193 (2004). LexisNexis Academic. Web. < https://litigationessentials.lexisnexis.com/webcd/app?action=DocumentDisplay&crawlid=1&doctype=cite&doci
d=36+Colum.+Human+Rights+L.+Rev.+193&srctype=smi&srcid=3B15&key=44d387ee5daae5
5cc62a3ffb73d2557e>.
Useem, Bert and Peter Kimball. States of Siege: U.S. Prison Riots 1971-1986. New York:
Oxford University Press, 1989.
Verba, Brady, Kay Lehman Scholzman, and Henry E. Brady. Voice and Equality: Civic
Voluntarism in American Politics. Cambridge (Massachusetts): Harvard University Press, 2002.
“Walnut Street Prison.” Net Industries. Net Industries. Web.
<http://law.jrank.org/pages/11192/Walnut-Street-Prison.html>.
Western, Bruce. Punishment and Inequality in America. New York: Russell Sage, 2006.
76
Western, Bruce. Punishment and Inequality in America. New York: Russell Sage, 2006.
Western, Bruce. “The Politics and Economics of the Prison Boom.” Russell Sage. Princeton
University and Russell Sage Foundation. March 2005 Web.
<http://www.russellsage.org/sites/all/files/u4/Western_Politics%20%26%20Economics.pdf>.
Zieger, Robert H., and Gilbert J. Gall. American Workers, American Unions: The Twentieth
Century. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002.
77
Fly UP