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June 5, 2012

"A Proposed National Corrections College"

The title of this post is the title of this article available via SSRN authored by James Jacobs and Kerry Cooperman. Here is the abstract:

More than four decades ago, Chief Justice Warren E. Burger proposed the establishment of a National Corrections Academy.  He envisioned a training center for prison and jail personnel as prestigious, well-funded, and high-powered as the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.  Although the National Institute of Corrections established a National Corrections Academy in 1982, this academy has remained extremely small (ten full-time program specialists) and modestly funded ($2.5 annual budget) given the size of this nation’s correctional infrastructure.

Today, at a cost of approximately $70 billion per year, more than half a million correctional employees in more than 5,000 correctional facilities across the U.S. house, feed, clothe, supervise, recreate, educate, and provide medical care to nearly 2.3 million inmates, and probation and parole officers supervise an additional 5 million people. Despite the cost and complexity of administering this massive correctional complex, there is no national institution to identify and prioritize correctional-leadership-development needs, evaluate best training practices, develop and disseminate quality curricula, conduct cutting-edge research, and deliver training to a significant number of high-level corrections leaders.

This article reprises Chief Justice Burger’s proposal, calling for the establishment of a National Corrections College that would be the nation’s “brain center” for correctional research, curriculum development, and leadership training.  As Justice Burger observed three decades ago, an investment in a full-fledged national-level correctional training and research center would “cost less in the long run” than the failure to make such investment.

June 5, 2012 at 11:36 AM | Permalink


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oxymoron: "brains" and "correctional staff"

Posted by: FluffyRoss | Jun 5, 2012 3:04:02 PM

It is far more important to establish a large network of judge schools. No lawyer need apply. Middle aged people with experience making decisions and with a judicial temperament could apply, e.g. former military. The pre-judge courses would include psychology, behavioral psychology, critical thinking, scientific method.

They would get two years of class time, studying the law from a judging perspective. The strong culture would be to apply the law, not make the law. Then they would judge under supervision for a year. They would qualify for a licensing examination, which should not be too hard.

Only licensed judges could be elected or nominated. Judges could make their own inquiries, and run their own investigations. They would have no immunity, and would carry professional liability insurance to compensate the victims of any error.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 5, 2012 4:01:16 PM

no, we actually need to learn and apply practical corrective actions like 'downsizing' and 'RIF'ing to the DOJ manpower workforce

Posted by: budget accountability | Jun 5, 2012 4:37:14 PM

I guess there's nothing inherently wrong with this, but it seems to me we could accomplish a lot more by concentrating on fundamentals and a few simple reforms. In no particular order of importance, we should (1) stop locking up so many people for lengthy sentences for non-violent conduct, especially consensual crimes like drug offenses; (2) pay a decent wage with adequate benefits to prison staff, so we can be a little more choosy about whom we hire; (3) reduce prison crowding; (4) stop letting Hollywood inform us about how prisoners are and start recognizing that most of them are people and maybe we should start treating them with a little dignity and respect instead of pariahs; (5) reduce prison crowding (yes, I meant to say that twice); and stop relying on private companies whose goal will be profit maximization, rather than providing a public service.

I'm no fan of the federal Bureau of Prisons, but they're pretty much considered the gold standard in prison administration in the U.S., and by and large, their operations are recognized by both prisoners and staff as superior to most state institutions. Of course, to a large extent this is because, in comparison to most state and county systems, they are awash in resources. But their policies and program statements are easily available, and they can be replicated by a sufficiently motivated and resourceful correctional agency.

The point is, prison administration is not rocket science, and maybe we should start working on the obvious things before we try inserting erudition where none is needed.

Posted by: C.E. | Jun 6, 2012 12:15:44 AM

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