Category Archives: Corrections

On the Chopping Block 2012: State Prison Closings

Source: Nicole D. Porter, Sentencing Project, December 2012

The Bureau of Justice Statistics recently reported that the overall state prison population declined for the third consecutive year in 2011. State sentencing reforms and changes in parole revocation policies have been contributing factors in these reductions. As a result, state officials are now beginning to close correctional facilities after several decades of record prison expansion. Continued declines in state prison populations advance the narrative that the nation’s reliance on incarceration is largely a function of policy choices.

In 2012, at least six states have closed 20 prison institutions or are contemplating doing so, potentially reducing prison capacity by over 14,100 beds and resulting in an estimated $337 million in savings. During 2012, Florida led the nation in prison closings with its closure of 10 correctional facilities; the state’s estimated cost savings for prison closings totals over $65 million. This year’s prison closures build on closures observed in 2011 when at least 13 states reported prison closures and reduced prison capacity by an estimated 15,500 beds.

Dishwashing Won't Kill Tummy-Troubling Norovirus: Study

Source: HealthDay, News & Views, December 13, 2012

Commercial dishwashers can kill everyday bacteria but not norovirus, the cause of stomach flu and many foodborne illnesses around the world, according to a new study.

Although restaurant-industry guidelines for cleaning dishes and silverware eliminate bacteria, they are not effective against norovirus, said researchers from Ohio State University. They found the virus can withstand both manual and mechanical washing….
See also:
Efficacies of Sodium Hypochlorite and Quaternary Ammonium Sanitizers for Reduction of Norovirus and Selected Bacteria during Ware-Washing Operations
Source: Lizanel Feliciano, Jianrong Li, Jaesung Lee, Melvin A. Pascall, PLOS One, December 5, 2012

Measuring the Effect of Public-Sector Unionization on Criminal Justice Public Policy

Source: Derek Cohen and Jay Kennedy, University of Cincinnati, November 2012

From a press release:
…UC’s Kennedy and Cohen used a range of data going back as far as 15 years to test three broad impacts that popular wisdom sometimes ascribes to unions. They examined
– whether what’s called “public choice theory,” another way of saying that individual voters vote to benefit themselves, can be applied to collective bargaining units. “Public choice theory” stands in opposition to “communal will theory,” where it’s posited that individual voters opt for the good of the many or group vs. their own individual goods.
– whether unions associated with the criminal justice system engage in “competitive rent seeking,” seeking to maximize specific expenditures into the criminal justice system above and beyond a cost-recovery level in order to benefit specific unions, say a police vs. a corrections union.
– whether states with more liberal ideologies are likely to have smaller per-capita prison populations, and, alternately, whether states that are less liberal have higher incarceration rates. (The researchers are interested whether more-liberal states with stronger unions associated with the criminal justice system might not have harsher laws/sentencing requirements as a means of “guaranteeing concentrated benefits” or prosperity for unions associated with the criminal justice system.)….

…In their research, Kennedy and Cohen found that, yes, when unions associated with the criminal justice system make expenditures related to state issues, there is a broad, diffuse impact. In other words, if one union spends to support an issue benefiting functions in the criminal justice system, the state’s broad public safety sector is likely to generally benefit in the form of more funding, but not necessarily the specific union or sector that made the expenditure….Correspondingly, they found no evidence that competitive rent seeking was taking place. In other words, there is no lion’s share of the spoils (in the form of jobs) going to any specific union making expenditures on behalf of a state issue. So, in general, a specific union making ballot initiative expenditures will not see a relative increase in employment numbers one year on….

The Affordable Care Act: Implications for Public Safety and Corrections Populations

Source: Susan D. Phillips, Sentencing Project, September 2012

…States are now in the process of planning and carrying out the implementation of the ACA. Groups concerned with high rates of incarceration and, in particular, with its accompanying racial disparities, will want to follow these decisions. What follows is a brief introduction to the implications the ACA has for:
(1) lowering the number of people cycling through the criminal justice system because of behaviors stemming from addictions and mental illness;
(2) lowering correctional health care expenditures through improved continuity of care; and
(3) reducing racial disparities in incarceration related to disparities in health care access…

Growing Inmate Crowding Negatively Affects Inmates, Staff, and Infrastructure

Source: United States Government Accountability Office, GAO-12-743, September 12, 2012

From the summary:
The Department of Justice’s Bureau of Prisons’ (BOP) 9.5 percent population growth from fiscal years 2006 through 2011 exceeded the 7 percent increase in its rated capacity, and BOP projects continued population growth. Growth was most concentrated among male inmates, and in 2011, 48 percent of the inmates BOP housed were sentenced for drugs. From fiscal years 2006 through 2011, BOP increased its rated capacity by about 8,300 beds as a result of opening 5 new facilities and closing 4 minimum security camps, but because of the population expansion, crowding (or population in excess of rated capacity) increased from 36 to 39 percent. In 2011 crowding was most severe (55 percent) in highest security facilities. BOP’s 2020 long-range capacity plan projects continued growth in the federal prison population from fiscal years 2012 through 2020, with systemwide crowding exceeding 45 percent through 2018.

According to BOP, the growth in the federal inmate population has negatively affected inmates, staff, and infrastructure, but BOP has acted within its authority to help mitigate the effects of this growth. BOP officials reported increased use of double and triple bunking, waiting lists for education and drug treatment programs, limited meaningful work opportunities, and increased inmate-to-staff ratios. These factors, taken together, contribute to increased inmate misconduct, which negatively affects the safety and security of inmates and staff. BOP officials and union representatives voiced concerns about a serious incident occurring. To manage its growing population, BOP staggers meal times and segregates inmates involved in disciplinary infractions, among other things.

The five states in GAO’s review have taken more actions than BOP to reduce their prison populations, because these states have legislative authority that BOP does not have. These states have modified criminal statutes and sentencing, relocated inmates to local facilities, and provided inmates with additional opportunities for early release. BOP generally does not have similar authority. For example, BOP cannot shorten an inmate’s sentence or transfer inmates to local prisons. Efforts to address the crowding issue could include (1) reducing the inmate population by actions such as reforming sentencing laws, (2) increasing capacity by actions such as constructing new prisons, or (3) some combination of both.
See also:
Highlights

The Power of Incentives for Performance

Source: Susan K. Urahn, Governing, August 22, 2012

Corrections is one area in which a handful of states and their local governments are seeing big improvements in results — and saving millions in the process — through a novel funding approach….Faced with similar fiscal pressures, state and local governments can achieve better results at less cost by restructuring their relationships based on evidence of what works instead of simply cutting budgets or passing financial problems back and forth….

Doing "People Work" in the Prison Setting: An Examination of the Job Characteristics Model and Correctional Staff Burnout

Source: Marie L. Griffin, Nancy L. Hogan, Eric G. Lambert, Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 39 no. 9, September 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
Although correctional staff job burnout is costly to all involved, it has not received the empirical attention it deserves. The job characteristics model holds that job characteristics are important in shaping employee outcomes. This study focused on the effects of the job characteristics of supervision consideration, supervision structure, job autonomy, and job variety on the three dimensions of job burnout (i.e., emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and perceived ineffectiveness at work) among correctional staff. Ordinary least squares (OLS) regression analysis of data from 160 staff members at a private prison indicated that job autonomy and job variety had significant negative relationships with emotional exhaustion. Supervision consideration, job autonomy, and job variety all had negative effects on the depersonalization dimension of burnout. Job autonomy and job variety had significant negative effects on perceived ineffectiveness.

Webinars On The Intersection Of Mental Health & Criminal Justice

Source: Consensus Project, July 2012

During the month of July, the Consensus Project hosted three webinars that focused on different aspects of the mental health/criminal justice intersect. At each of these events, mental health and criminal justice practitioners from across the country delivered presentations and then responded to questions from attendees during a moderated question and answer session hosted by a Council of State Governments staff member.

The recent Consensus Project webinars include:

Innovative Law Enforcement Strategies for Interacting with People with Mental Illnesses that Frequently Require Emergency and Crisis Services
recording
presentation pdf

Fostering Criminal Justice/Mental Health Collaboration: Building Lasting Partnerships
recording
presentation pdf

Women Engaged in the Criminal Justice System
recording
presentation pdf

Occupational Injuries among U.S. Correctional Officers, 1999-2008

Source: Srinivas Konda, Audrey A. Reichard, Hope M. Tiesman, Journal of Safety Research, Volume 43, Issue 3, July 2012
(subscription required)

From the abstract:
This study describes fatal and nonfatal occupational injuries among U.S. correctional officers…. While workplace violence is the primary cause of both fatal and nonfatal injuries among correctional officers, transportation events and bodily reactions are also leading causes of occupational injury. Future research is needed to identify risk factors unique to these events and develop appropriate prevention and intervention efforts….This study adds to the literature on occupational injuries among correctional officers and provides a national level description of fatal and nonfatal injuries across a 10-year period. Given that assaults and violent acts, transportation events, and bodily reaction and exertion were significant injury events, future research should describe detailed injury circumstances and risk factors for correctional officers unique to these events. This would allow appropriate prevention and control efforts to be developed to reduce injuries from these events…

Highlights
► There were 113 fatalities among correctional officers from 1999–2008. ► Eighteen officers were killed by inmates from 1999–2008. ► Nonfatal work-related injuries were estimated at 125,200 over 10 years. ► Violent acts were responsible for 45% of fatal and 38% of nonfatal injuries. ► Transportation related events were responsible for as many deaths as assaults.

Trends in U.S. Corrections

Source: The Sentencing Project, July 4, 2012

From the summary:
Trends in U.S. Corrections is a visual tool that provides a compilation of key developments in the criminal justice system over the past several decades.

Among the issues featured in this collection are:
• Rate of incarceration from 1925 to 2010
• International comparisons of incarceration rates
• Changes in the drug offender composition of prison populations over time
• Racial/ethnic disparities by gender in incarceration
• Increases in the number of people serving life sentences and life without parole since the 1980s
• Trends in the number of juveniles held in adult prisons and jails since 1985
• Increases in state corrections expenditures from 1985 to 2010