Wednesday, September 19, 2007

More NCJRS Abstracts, Wednesday, September 19, 2007


NCJ 219572
Rick Ruddell; G. Larry Mays
Rural Jails: Problematic Inmates, Overcrowded Cells, and Cash-Strapped Counties
Journal of Criminal Justice
Volume:35 Issue:3 Dated:May/June 2007 Pages:251 to 260

In order to obtain data and information on the challenges faced by small U.S. jails (100 beds or less), representatives from 213 such jails across the country were surveyed. Small jails, mostly located in rural areas, do not have the ability to transfer problem inmates to special handling units, and they do not have specialized units for housing mentally ill, elderly, female, or juvenile inmates. Small jails have little control over police or sheriff's operations that influence the number of jail admissions, or over courts, whose case-processing efficiency and sentencing influence the custody length of pretrial and sentenced inmates. Rural small jails are typically the default means for handling failures in other economic, social, and health systems. Since there are few other options for handling individuals in crisis who engage in problem behaviors, they are brought to the jail. One of the most significant problems facing jail administrators who responded to the survey was jail overcrowding. Even when jail expansions are built, the new beds are quickly filled. Other challenges for small, rural jails are the hiring, training, and retention of staff. State funding for small jails would be a significant step in reducing some of the challenges identified in this study; however, this option is unlikely to occur, since few States want to absorb the costs or address the challenges of operating local jails. Some of the problems might be better addressed if regional jails were located in counties with larger populations with greater human and financial resources. The survey was conducted in January 2005 and obtained replies from 213 jails in 43 States, with overrepresentation from jails in the Midwest and South. 3 tables and 59 references

NCJ 219524
Rob Canton
Probation and the Tragedy of Punishment
Howard Journal of Criminal Justice
Volume:46 Issue:3 Dated:July 2007 Pages:236 to 254

This article explores the contradictions inherent to contemporary probation practice and principles. The main argument is that probation operates in a domain characterized by punishment and as such, different aims and values conflict within this domain. The author argues that probation is a moral activity that cannot be reduced to the techniques of effectiveness. In making this argument, the author points out two main considerations: (1) that the values and aims of the penal industry are inherently disputable, and (2) that there is a tight link between values and practice. These considerations, coupled with an awareness of diversity, imply that probation enjoys wide discretion and other characteristics that are at odds with contemporary management practices. Punishment-as-practices strives for a number of goals, but only some of these goals are attainable at no more than a limited extent while other goals may be self-defeating and still others incompatible with the justice system as a whole. Therefore, if punishment seeks to convey messages to the offender and to society, those messages are either distorted or even contradictory. As such, it is argued, the affirmation of societal values has only rhetorical worth. What is needed in probation practice and principle is an ethic that acknowledges the content of punishment as well as its justifications. This requires a morally significant probation practice that requires a competent, critical, and reflective workforce. Notes, references

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