Faculty-Student Paper Evaluates Prison System

Curtis R. Blakely, assistant professor of justice systems, and Alice Walkley, a senior justice systems major, recently had their paper examining the country’s prison system published by the Internet Journal of Criminology.

With more than two million inmates in the U.S. prison system, contemporary officials have curtailed their use of treatment programs. This has allowed them to focus needed attention and funds on controlling overcrowded facilities.

In their paper “A physicist, a philosopher and a politician: What penologists can learn from Einstein, Kant and Churchill,” Blakely and Walkley contend this has created an imbalance within correctional ideology and practice. To restore this balance, the authors propose the use of specialized prisons.

Under this proposal some prisons would incapacitate hardened and repeat offenders while other prisons would treat young and impressionable offenders. The key is to keep each group from interacting with the other. Interaction of this kind, it is argued, tends to corrupt the young, impressionable inmates. By separating these two populations, amenable inmates might be rehabilitated at greater rates, reducing both recidivism and operating costs. In determining the feasibility of their proposal, Blakely and Walkley considered the insights and statements of several well-known figures.

Their paper was also submitted upon request to California State Senator Gloria Negrete McLeod. It was of interest to the Senator since it promises to reduce prison overcrowding and remedy budgetary shortfalls.  

A brief description of this project will also appear in an upcoming highlights publication of the Council on Undergraduate Research, Washington, D.C.  

Blakely and Walkley’s paper can be viewed online at http://www.internetjournalofcriminology.com/Blakely_Walkley_Physicist_Philosopher_Politician_Jan_2010.pdf.
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