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Can we deny inmates access to newspapers, magazines as an incentive for better behavior?


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Male user Jon 52 posts

JoeDuggins said: “I would say that once a person decides they don’t want to play the society game we all play (not being criminals). Then they have no rights. Rights come from the society, the more perfect union if you will. Once you leave society, you’re barely human.”

Wow. Last I checked, the underpinning philosophy on which OUR society is based…let me see…yep…that philosophy stated our rights come directly from God, not society.

And, furthermore, it is the belief that our relationship with God can be mended that is fundamental to the concept of rehabilitation and reformation, the entire reason for the building of prisons.

Your view of societal rights is one step away from anarchy (i.e., “You have the right to live,” or, “You have the right to die.”)

One of the many problems we face today, uh?

180px hypnotoad JoeDuggins 10 posts

I would say that once a person decides they don’t want to play the society game we all play (not being criminals). Then they have no rights. Rights come from the society, the more perfect union if you will. Once you leave society, you’re barely human.

Money without intelligence is like a car without a road.
“Intelligent Investing”.http://www.intelligentinvestingtips.com

Buckeye flag Mudflap 293 posts

Oops! I should have figured that if someone wanted to make a comment, they would have.

Male user charst46 24 posts


Yep, we have just been spammed…..or slimed to quote Bill from Ghost Busters…..

Male user Jon 52 posts

I think it is just a sales or marketing ploy.

Male user charst46 24 posts

I agree with Mudflap; you are free to join. It is always good to have different perspectives on an issue. I do have a question, what is that link about?

Buckeye flag Mudflap 293 posts

Of course you may.

Male user Julia2009 1 post

hi all
The conversation is so impressive. may I join?


Male user crash 9 posts

To us, it may be a simple newspaper or magazine. To an inmates that lives behind a cell door, the magazine and newspapers are one of the greatest things they can own in a jail/prison. At our jail, if the inmates misbehave and demonstrates negative behavior, then they are stripped of everything except for the mattress they sleep on. Once their behavior improves, the jail will determine if the inmate will get back his property and how slow or quickly it will be returned.

There is a difference between privileges and rights. Books, newspapers, and magazine are privileges that must be earned and can be taken away.

Buckeye flag Mudflap 293 posts

PETA said they don’t like beating dead horses, but in this instance they understand. :D

So if the question were changed to “SHOULD we deny access….” I would still say “Yes” because allowing unfettered access wouldn’t serve any long-term good sense, either. In a correctional setting they GOTTA have something to lose. Methinks everyone would agree, for example, that we can’t refuse to feed them, but we can ensure they get what they’re supposed to get and nothing extra.

charst46 and Comfortable Numb are right about the Seg inmates, and many of the GP inmates would have the same attitude if they were told to read the Wall Street Journal and write a report on the economy. The ones who would actually do that are the ones who aren’t having behavioral issues.

A lot of these guys don’t want something until they’re told they can’t have it, and then it’s a constitutional issue to them.

Lion Comfortably ... 154 posts

“Flood” them with books while they are in Seg, and soon you’ll be cleaning up the flood they created when they plugged the toilet with the materials you just gave them. Be realistic. If you are a long-term “vet” at this as you claim, you should know better how an unruly inmate in Segregation acts. You try to force him to write you reports, I’ll sit over here and laugh at you beating your head against the wall when he tells you to shove your report you know where.

Everyone is over-analyzing this. This is a question of wether to deny an inmate priveledges when they are misbehaving to create an incentive for them to behave well. Of course you should be able to. How else will they learn if there are no consequences for their actions? Yeah they are locked up, now they need to learn to behave and follow rules. If they already knew how to do that, they wouldn’t be here in the first place. So they follow the rules here, they can read whatever the hell they want. If not, there will be consequences, if that happens to involve restricting magazines or newspapers until they behave, so be it.

Male user charst46 24 posts

I agree with Mudflap on this. The issue here ( as I understand it…) is whether their behavior warrants added restrictions. Ad Seg is usually reserved for housing inmates who cannot abide by the rules in general pop. There are exceptions as in my state where if an inmate is identified as a gang member, it is usually straight to seg. For corrections, the problem then is managing behavior once the inmate is in the system. Does granting an inmate access to reading material aid in controlling their behavior. I think it does; if the inmate is reading something, then generally he or she is not thinking of how to get over or get to an officer.

That being said, ad seg needs to be restrictive. Many of the items inmates get should be based on the level of supervision required and ad seg demands high levels of supervision. In our system, there is the Code of Penal Discipline (the ‘Legal System’) and there is a behavioral management system. When an offender becomes inappropriate in some manner, say verbally abusive (a minor deal but still a way to highlight the system), the officer can deny that day’s exercise period. This is done immediately to consequent that behavior. The inmate can also be written up for that offense and go through the internal legal system. I think it would be overly heavy handed to do that in this instance, but it is an option. The two systems run side by side.

Consistent treatment inside such a facility is also a requirement.

Male user Jon 52 posts

I maybe about to beat a dead horse, so somebody notify PETA…The article title…"Can we deny inmates access to newspapers, magazines as an incentive for better behavior? " Simply put, yes, we can do whatever the hell we want to do…Better stated, and not entirely ignored by some (even in response to this forum title), is this…"SHOULD we deny inmates access to newspapers, magazines as an incentive for better behavior? "… I do not think denying access is ultimately serving the citizenry or the population in any long-term good sense.

Buckeye flag Mudflap 293 posts

Good point about the conflicts. While I personally, would often prefer stronger restrictions or sanctions on a lot of violations, it isn’t my job to decide what the sanctions will be. If an inmate gets a sanction I enforce that sanction, and if he doesn’t get any sanctions I leave him alone. Misbehavior doesn’t automatically bring a restriction, especially on a first time offense, but the misbehavior will be addressed in some form, even if it’s a verbal warning of “Don’t do that”. My job is to report violations, and once I’ve done that my job is done. It’s kind of like a cop on the street… I write a ticket and the judge decides what the punishment will be.

Ibright mentioned family sending books in for their people, and that’s great! There isn’t a single inmate who doesn’t look forward to getting something from home. I don’t know of any instance where mail has been withheld from an inmate, with the exception of while he’s on a suicide watch, and he gets all of his mail after he’s removed from that watch. Matter of fact, I can’t think of any instance where an inmate was told “you can’t read a book or newspaper”. However, there have been instances where a Seg inmate wasn’t allowed to have newspapers or magazines because of what he was using them for.

I agree with the statement about most of these guys not having the benefit of our upbringing and insight. We have doctors, lawyers, cops, and CO’s living side by side with the drunk drivers, child molesters, arsonists, and murderers. Obviously, they all have different attitudes about their incarceration and respond differently. Many of the more educated ones will admit and take responsibility for whatever they did and the less educated ones won’t. It’s the less educated ones that need direction, and a lot of them can’t read and/or can’t be bothered with learning.

Male user Jon 52 posts

Mudflap makes some interesting points concerning organizational operation and how the conflict between individual views and organizational purpose can frequently conflict.

The first question should always be, “Why?” What I think happens in many instances within the prison system (being a 23 year vet) is a knee – jerk reaction of “misbehavior = restriction.” No one stops to process the issue. We act as if these people we have in our charge have had the benefit of our upbringing and insight and education and all the other tools that served to shape our lives. In most instances, they have not.

As far as giving them more to read when they misbehave, I would encourage people reading the posts to stop and ask, “Why not?” We are asked to conduct our business in a way founded on the principles of REFORMATIVE justice. While negative consequences have a place in the shaping of human behavior, positive and negative reinforcement, along with extinction, have been proven to be demonstratively better in terms of results. Leaving the offender with nothing to do except read educational material concerning pro-social values, etc., would achieve the vision and mission of most correctional agencies.

Buckeye flag Mudflap 293 posts

I totally agree that incarceration is the punishment. There is, however, more that goes with incarceration that simply having movement restricted. And remember… my original response is my opinion and not necessarily that of the prison system.

He ends up with me because of whatever he did on the streets. If he follows the rules while he’s here, he won’t have ANY problems with me, but if he busts the rules AFTER he gets to me, he’ll be corrected. Two separate violations. Two separate incidents. Two separate “punishments”. I stand by my statement that taking newpapers and magazines away can be a great deterrent.

And don’t forget that I’m just a raggy little CO and I won’t be the person who determines what the punishment will be. I don’t jump all over a guy just because he made a mistake, but I WILL enforce any rules and sanctions as best I can

If an inmate uses material for something that material isn’t intended for we’ll take privileges away from him, regardless if the material is a shoe string, a piece of bed spring, or something made from paper.

Flooding his with textbooks and making him write reports? How do we respond when he refuses?

I agree with what Jon said about agreeing on what material can be read. No matter where we draw the line there will be inmates who intentionally cross that line. Are we simply disagreeing on where that line should be drawn?

Female user lbright 2 posts

I made a comment on this is the way we can reach our love one,and let me tell you meaning behind the statement. When people have husband or father behind bars and by sending a education material or some Inspiring book that can Encourage them . So no i do not think you should take reading from them . Ok they are already doing their time ,i think if you start taking things away it will not make it better but worse for everyone. The people that trying to take this away from the so call inmates,what have they done and just have not got caught for it,so think if you was in there shoes,and you can not read or catch on the lastest sports, and this goes for Men and Women.

Male user Jon 52 posts

Incarceration IS the punishment for the crime. NO freedom of movement and move when and where we tell you to move; eat when and what you are told to eat; and, not to mention the state of medical and other services.

Perhaps the way to truly test: If an offender misbehaves, FLOOD him with all the textbooks on human behavior he can handle. Make him write reports until he gets writer cramps.

Do not interpret my posts as being an advocate for any material coming down the pike. I truly believe we ought to add, “you will read what we tell you to read,” to the equation. But then, could we ever agree on what that material would be?

Buckeye flag Mudflap 293 posts

I’m not sure I can articulate well enough but I’m going to try. I could be interpreting the original question wrong, so I might be comparing apples and oranges.

In response to the original question: yes, we should certainly have the ability to deny them access to newspapers and magazines. But if they’re simply reading them there’s no reason to take them away.

It doesn’t bother me at all if they get a newspaper or magazine. If nothing else it gives them something to do. What bothers me is when they use the newspaper or magazine for something it wasn’t intended to be used for. Especially if they’re in the Seg unit.

Our Seg inmates are allowed two newspapers at a time, and they can swap one paper for another as they want. They can also get a book by sending a request to the library…. we’ll even give them the paper and a pen to write to the library with.

But when they start making blowguns or fishing poles or other things with that material, they lose it, and that’s fair whether they’re in Seg or GP.

“Reaching them” by allowing access to various media is a curious statement. We can let them read every paper and magazine available and even send them to all the classes and mandate all the programs we have, but we can’t rehabilitate any of them. Those things only work if the inmate wants them to.

If they abide by the rules it’s unlikely they’ll have any problems. If (by chance) they go to Seg and abide by the rules while there, they still won’t have a problem. It’s when they don’t abide by the rules they’ll lose privileges. If we aren’t allowed to take something away, there’s no incentive for them to behave. We don’t arbitrarily take away those things, though. Gotta have a good reason.

I don’t see where reading the Columbus Dispatch or Hustler magazine will broaden his horizons, but also don’t have a problem if he wants to read them… as long as that’s all he is doing.

With all that said, I finish with this: I’ll give each inmate as much respect as he will let me give him, but “hugging” isn’t an option.

Lion Comfortably ... 154 posts

I don’t think issuing them the latest issue of “King” or whatever other ghetto-booty picture filled rag is really going to open minds or expand their knowledge. I wouldn’t be against them getting something educational, but that only happens in this fantasy world you seem to want to live in. Back here in the real world, they subscribe to the closest thing to porn they are allowed. What really is there to sit back and PONDER on that?

Male user Jon 52 posts

There is a very simple solution to this debate (and probably most other debates concerning the operation of a prison). Those advocating denial or suspension of these items to the offender population need to start up a prison system and then get a population to fill it. Run it that way. Deny the offenders access to these items for whatever reasons you deem fit.

Better yet, just sit back and picture the outcome. Do not come back with a shoot from the hip retort. Really sit back and PONDER the logical outcome.

Those offenders that are going to be released NEED to be better off than when they went in. Those offenders never getting out have NOTHING to LOSE. Either way, our job as correctional professionals is, first, to make sure everyone that is supposed to be there according to the court is there at the end of each day, and second, provide for their safety and security. It is all Maslow.

Female user lbright 2 posts

I feel that ,they are all human to a certain point and regardless of what crime they do . As you state a Inmate should not have anything to read or open their minds then you are wrong due to smiple fact they have family that love and care for them and through the books and magazines we are able to reach them .

Male user Dave simpson 6 posts

Go Twins!!!!!!!!

Small 986654 maniac 12 posts

Man, things are changing here. Now this is happening in my facility. In our single man ad-seg unit (we have 2 units) they get : 1 pants, whirt, boxers, socks, and hygene, 1 magazine, and newspaper. If they have A book, they can exchange it when the books come around, maybe once a week. This has changed from the way it used to be. I walked in one day and saw our responce team suited up and looking tired. I guess that was the day they went in and took out all the walkmans. LOL From what I heard these changes are coming to the 2-man cell ad-seg unit (where I work). SOme of the changes are already happening, like the mail. I heard from the FUM (function unit manager) that the walkmans are deffinately going. Hope I’m there that day. Should be interesting. I can already hear the “whoosh” of the mace cans going off!

Female user SuperC.O 3 posts

simple… you gotta give them something… so you can TAKE IT AWAY…when needed… i am a 28 year old female, working in a max NY state all male prison for 5 years now… i just never understand why some of us are always working so hard to make their day harder and more dangerous for themselves and for others working with them…. remember our jobs are not to punish nobody… u do wot needs to be done without having to go out of ur way askin for shit to come your way.. coz its gonna come your way anyways… better save those days for when they come… instead of lookin for em… i have been on red dot team for about 3 years with my current bid… always take care of the business and still to this day, manage to not take it personal… aint worth it…

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