At no time in my memory, and especially at no time within the limits of my professional career, have crime and corrections been the subjects of intelligent as well as unintelligent concern as they are today.

National Involvement

As a national problem, former President Johnson gave crime and its control a priority second only to the Vietnam war. The Department of Health, Education, and Welfare has by definition declared the public offender an individual in need of rehabilitation. Implementing that definition, the Vocational Rehabilitation Division of Health, Education, and Welfare has made millions of dollars available to corrections. Concurrently, the Department of Labor became involved in the vocational training of the offender.

Three years ago, the Congress authorized $2.1 million for a study of manpower in corrections. In November of last year, the Commission on Manpower and Training-—a recipient of $2.1 million grant-—published its findings.

At the moment, the Department of Justice is dispensing gigantic sums of money in block grants to the fifty states for “law enforcement.” The Omnibus Crime Bill definition of law enforcement includes every activity front prevention of crime, to probation, to detention, to adjudication, to incarceration, to parole. I would, however, hazard the not wholly unsupported guess that the bulk of the Omnibus Crime Bill money has gone to and is going to that area of law enforcement to which we normally refer as the police.

Without controversy, one of the more enlightened aspects of the Omnibus Crime Bill is the provision for loans and scholarship grants to institutions of higher learning offering criminology programs.

Finally, late in November, President Nixon issued his own thirteen- point crime message, which indicated that he desired massive reforms in the Federal correctional system in order that it might serve as a prototype for the states. The current concern with crime arid corrections is at least a partial indication that that which we have been doing and are doing in corrections is not satisfactory.

Historical Function of Prisons

Prisons were originally places of detention which were a prelude either to banishment or to execution. Later, they evolved into an alternative to these extreme remedies. Still later, especially in the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of corrections is largely the history of amelioration of stark confinement. Those years witnessed such progressive and humanitarian measures as probation and parole, juvenile .court, youth institutions, education in prisons, the development of classification, special institutions for the mentally ill offender, pre-.release and work release programs, the indeterminate sentence, the establishment of training programs for correctional workers, and the development of objective correctional standards.

The Evolution of Corrections

Corrections in the western world has passed through an evolutionary process of the four R’s. Originally motivated largely by Revenge, corrections–if the term may be used–was characterized by corporal punishment and brutality. It was a prime example of man’s inhumanity to man.

Revenge was followed by Restraint. During this period, when prisons proliferated, the concepts of prison as punishment for wrongdoing, as a deterrent to further criminal activity by the convicted felon or his peers, and as a place for incapacitating the wrongdoer, were fully implemented.

There followed the period of Reform. The calloused conscience of society was pricked, and the period of inmate humanitarianism developed. Reformers pressed for and secured adequate food for prisoners, proper medical care, a modicum of education, and the elimination of the more crass forms of brutality.

We are moving into an era of Re-integration. The avowed and not always attained goal today is the re-integration of the offender into society, whether it be by probation, by the rehabilitation program of the prison, or by parole.
While we live in the period of Re-integration, we shall not–in the foreseeable future——shake off the vestiges of our past. Society will continue to demand some Revenge; some Restraint will be required; and as long as we have institutions manned by human beings, Reform will be required. In fact, the wave of reform which has effected a transformation of America’s state penal institutions has made no significant impact upon this nation’s city and county jails. They remain vast and untouched areas, awaiting the crusading cry of a John Howard or Thomas Mott Osborne.


Since the largest portion of America’s correctional dollar is spent on institutions, we would do well to address ourselves to that aspect of corrections.

The Complex of the Prison Population

Who are the people who come to our prisons? Any prison program should be determined by the needs of the prison’s constituency.

A recent survey of our institutional population of l2,5OO–and we are inclined to believe that it is essentially no different in quality from the prison population in any other state — revealed that 85 per cent were school dropouts; 65 per cent came from broken homes; the average educational attainment was the fifth grade (5.1 E.A.); the average I.Q. was 85; 18 per cent were illiterate; 50 per cent were under the age of 25;,and 40 per cent were without any previous sustained work experience. Most important, 96 per cent will again walk the streets as free men after an average stay of two years.

Contrary to the popular concept of the prisoner, conceived and nurtured by television and cinema, those coming to the gates of America’s prisons are the flotsam and jetsam of society, the inept, the stupid, the poor, and the undisciplined.

Corrections’ Task

What course can corrections pursue in returning these people to constructive and productive living?


Corrections can furnish discipline to previously undisciplined lives. Many, if not most, inmates in penal institutions have never been subjected to consistent discipline, be it internally or externally imposed. 
Products of disintegrated families early escapees from the regimen of an educational program, inexperienced in restrictions imposed by gainful employment, prison furnishes an opportunity to introduce the individual to the benefits of the disciplined life.


Our statistics reveal that 40 per cent of those inmates coming to us had no sustained employment record. An aspect of their rehabilitation should include a constructive work experience. Undoubtedly one of the banes of America’s prisons is idleness. Confinement serves a constructive purpose in teaching the dignity and necessity of labor.

Measurement of Effectiveness

Corrections engages in many allegedly rehabilitative devices. Most of them have not been subjected to the test of measurement as far as effectiveness is concerned. By effectiveness we mean success in reducing recidivism. For in our opinion–and we know that this opinion is not universally shared—-the acid test of any penal program is its realistic and effective answer to the question: “What are you doing to keep them from coming back?”


In our own experience, the one area in which the success in reduction of recidivism can be measured is in the area of education.

In any given year, between 500 and 750 inmates secure a high school diploma while in prison. A study revealed that comparatively few of the inmates who received a high school diploma while in prison were numbered among the recidivists.

For the past five years, as a result of cooperation on Se part of area junior colleges, each semester 1000 – 1500 inmates have been enrolled in college level vocational and/or academic courses. Another study reveals that rarely has a man returned to us who has earned a minimum of twelve semester hours of college work while in prison.

Statistics from our Diagnostic Unit, which processes an average of 500 new inmates each month, indicates that 18 per cent of the incoming inmates are illiterate, lacking the fundamental skills in the three R’s.

Further, the average grade level achievement is 5.1. Obviously, the highest priority in a correctional education program must be given to the equipping of those falling below the fifth grade level with fundamental skills in “Reading, Riting, and Rithmetic.”

A second priority must be accorded the course of instruction leading to a, high school diploma or the G.E.D. equivalency certificate. The high school diploma or its equivalnt is the sine qua non for admission to too many areas of economic endeavor for corrections to ignore the important task of furnishing inmates with the opportunity to reach this educational goal.

Our experience forces us to the conclusion that agencies other than the prison itself are better qualified to offer post high school education, be it academic or vocational.

Unbound by tradition, characterized by a willingness to structure courses to meet contemporary community needs, and being accessible to penal institutions — all makes the American junior college an ideal partner in the correctional educational program. Our prisons would do well to explore fully the possibilities of developing cooperative arrangements with area junior colleges for securing the type of academic and vocational education which will further equip an inmate for productive living.

The Future

Now a word about the future in American corrections. Following are briefly outlined what we believe to be radical changes which are occurring and which will occur in corrections in the immediate future. While I am not a prophet, nor the seventh son of a prophet, I believe that I am perceptive enough to see the dim outline of a “handwriting on the wall,” which it would be will for all of us to read c1erly if we are to main / tam a position of leadership in our fields.

Federal Aid

In the first place, the future will bring more Federal aid to corrections. In the past, corrections has not shared in the Federal largesse which schools, colleges, and hospitals enjoyed. Recent meetings in Washington–some of which I have attended–indicate that the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Justice, recognizing the large number of psychotics, mentally retarded, handicapped,, illiterate, and those needing vocational rehabilitation, in American prisons, are underwriting not only research but also ambitious programs for the care and treatment of convicts.

The Omnibus Grime Bill, passed by the Congress provides funds in appreciable amounts for every area of law enforcement, from prevention, to arrest, to probation, to incarceration, to parole.

Regardless of what our personal political philosophies may be regarding Federal aid as far as corrections is concerned, it is here and will increase.

Standards for Corrections

Concomitant with the granting of Federal aid will not be Federal control, as some fear, but the granting of money on the part of the Federal government will result in the development of criteria for corrections upon which such grants will be contingent. Ultimately, this will result in the establishment of evaluative and fairly objective standards by which the worth and effectiveness of a correctional program may be judged.

Already the American Correctional Association is testing and validating a document or instrument similar to the “Evaluative Criteria for Secondary School&’ used for many years with signal success in the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools.


The future will bring more research. I know of no institution, unless it be organized Christianity, which has shown a greater reluctance to measure the effectiveness of its varied programs than have corrections and law enforcement.
We engage in many allegedly rehabilitative practices but we have little evidence to show that they are successful in achieving the objectives which we have set for ourselves: namely, redirecting and restructuring the life of the offender. Many of our programs may be good, they may be effective, but they are based on an unvalidated assumption; we have no assurance–without the measurement found in research–that these programs are effective and successful.

Pre-Release Programs

The future will bring an expanded use of Pre-release programs. It is sheet folly to keep a man in prison two or three or four or five years and at the termination of his sentence or upon parole, release him with a few dollars, a cheap suit, and the perfunctory ministrations of the dismissing officer.

To an even greater degree, the future will witness programs which devote themselves easing the inmate’s transition from the most unnatural society known to man — prison society — to the free world.

Out experience in Texas with a modest beginning of this type of venture has resulted in a radical reduction in recidivism.

Probation and Parole

The future will bring an increased use of supervised probation and parole. One day, society will become truly aware of the comparatively low cost of putting a man on probation or on parole and will demand that these approaches be used rather than senseless and expensive incarceration.

If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that our massive prison buildings, the expensive jail paraphernalia with which they are equipped, the time-honored, elaborate, and almost ritualistic security measures which we practice, are actually designed for a sniall4ercentage of our prisoners–25 per cent at the, most. The best interests of the majority of our inmates, as ‘well as those of society, would be better served by intelligently supervised probation and parole rather than by the artificially contrived rehabilitation programs found in the stultifying atmosphere of most prisons.

Pre-Sentence Investigation

The day will come when State judges — as Federal judges now do — will be required to pass sentence only after having the benefit of a comprehensive pre-sentence investigation which embraces every aspect of the convicted felon’s experience.

Today, in too many instances, there come to our gates the psychotics, the mentally retarded, the emotionally disturbed, sent there largely by our large and impersonal cities, where citizens, juries, prosecutors, and judges labor under the wholly false impression that they have rid themselves of a problem by sending these people to the penitentiary. Competent pre-sentence investigation will indicate whether confinement in an inherently punitive penal institution is required — and make no mistake, it frequently is — or whether society and the individual would be better benefited by some other disposition of the case.


I also believe that our prisons will become more productive. If inmates of prisons are to become more productive, there must be an expansion of prison industry. The tax-conscious constituent will demand it; enlightened organized labor and free—world industry will allow it.

Moreover, in efficiency, in equipment, in adequacy of supervision, and in quality of products, prison industry will compare favorably with its counterpart in the free world.

Community Based Corrections

A concomitant of adequate pre-sentence investigation will result in a de-emphasis on institutional corrections and an enlargement and implementation of the concept of community based corrections.


I can think of no better way to conclude this presentation than with a quote from the great Winston Churchill:
“The mood and temper of the public in regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the most unfailing tests of any country. A calm, dispassionate recognition of the rights of the accused and even of the convicted criminal, against the state, a constant heart-searching by all charged with the duty of punishment, a desire and eagerness to rehabilitate in the world of industry those who have paid their due in the hard coinage of punishment; tireless efforts towards the discovery of curative and regenerative processes; unfailing faith that there is a treasure, if you can only find it, in the heart of every man; these are the symbols which, in the treatment of crime and the criminal, mark and measure the stored-up strength of a nation, and are sign and proof of the living virtue within it.”