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


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Buckeye flag Mudflap 293 posts

Sorry, Jon. I understand what you’re saying but respectfully disagree.

Male user Jon 52 posts

Like I said, the phrasing of the question has led to these points/counterpoints…

“Can we deny inmates access to newspapers, magazines as an incentive for better behavior?” is the question…

I submit the question mark should be at the end of the word magazines…in which case, the answer is unequivocally yes…if it remains where it is, then I submit, the answer is what it is…no incentive…just false compliance…

Lion Comfortably ... 154 posts

Freedom is the absolute best incentive for good behavior, right? RIGHT!?!?!
IF that is the case, then you would be FORCED to admit this incentive FAILED!!! And if freedom fails, then I do not give a hairy rat’s – about all the books and magazines in China…

According to your thinking, and your belief in this study, maybe we should eliminate Segregation units altogether? Why bother locking them in Seg if the incentive of getting back out into GP for their freedoms doesn’t work? Just let him continue to cause a disturbance and be assaultive in the housing unit.

For every one of these studies you see done, you eventually see another one that counters what the other study came up with. I’m wondering if these “smarty pants educational types” just make half of their results up in order to keep getting grants.

I mean, I read a study recently that talked about the great benefits of drinking your own urine. I, however, choose to go ahead with common sense on this one too….You can try it and let me know how it goes though.

Male user Jon 52 posts


Buckeye flag Mudflap 293 posts

Jon? JoeDuggins? You still here?

Male user OCCD 57 posts

ANY item which threatens my SAFETY is subject to confiscation. Period.

Buckeye flag Mudflap 293 posts

Thumbs up to Charst46’s response.

Jon, I understand what you’re saying. My concept of volunteering is to raise my hand and say “I’d like to do that” and I don’t know of many inmates who have made that statement (one exception was a thief who wanted three years in the pokey to tide him over until he was eligible for social security, but that’s a different story for a different thread).

I stand by my original response that we can/should deny reading material. It would be wrong to say “you can’t have a newspaper” simply because I have the power to say it (and I don’t have that power anyways). It would, however, be correct and proper to say “you can’t have a newspaper because you set it on fire and throw it out on the range” or “you can’t have a newspaper because you make a spear with it and try to poke officers when they walk past your door”. It DOES correct behavior, and not because it causes the inmate to cower in a corner.

Certainly sustained freedom is an incentive, but TOTAL freedom was lost once they were convicted of whatever they were convicted of. Not that they don’t have a semblance of freedom inside the walls… they can (to a point) come and go as they wish… they can get something to eat from their footlocker if they’re hungry… they can wear t-shirts and gym shorts after work hours… they can watch TV… they can play some ball… they can lay in the grass… they can play chess… they can argue theology… they can shower just about any time… they can even sit and stare out the window if they want to. On the other hand, if they abuse privileges they’ll lose them. That goes with the territory.

My personal viewpoint is that we ARE promoting change in the people under our care by showing them that there are rules that society demands be followed. We are showing them what works and what doesn’t. Plus, I’ll give them as much respect as they allow me to give.

Would you agree if I said inmates should be held accountable for their actions? That if an inmate were throwing size C batteries at staff, the inmate should lose those batteries? That if an inmate were spitting on staff, the inmate should be separated from staff until the inmate regains control of himself? That if an inmate were using items in a manner the items were not intended to be used he should lose those items? Are we comparing apples and oranges?

Do we agree that the inmates should be held accountable for their actions but disagree on a penalty? Yeah, we should give these guys all the tools we can to give them a shot at staying out of prison, but all we can do is show them the way. We can’t force them to use the tools we give them.

I’ll also submit that a lot of these guys will act differently around me than they will act when talking to the mental health staff or one of my supervisors.

PS: We also have more than our fair share of Wild Bill Wharton’s.

Male user charst46 24 posts


I agree with you that many who work in Corrections have the attitude of lock ‘em up and throw away the key. That is more than likely, not a good attitude to have. For example, recently an individual by the last name of Masters was released because DNA evidence exonerated him. He spent 10 years in prison for a crime he did not committ. The supposed crime occurred when he was a teenager. He graduated, spent 8 – 9 years in the Navy, got an honorable discharge, returned home. Within months of his return, the prosecutor charged him with murder. He was tried and convicted. Only persistent efforts by people not related at all to the area, crime or any person involved with the case revealed that the original detective and prosecutor apparently conspired to hide evidence, kept evidence from the defense attorney as well as a host of other ’nice’ things.

Some folks in prison did not do a thing. They were scooped up by a dragnet and having insufficient resources to defend themselves against a prosecutor who is up for re-election needs to ‘beef-up’ the resume…..

At the same time, CO’s who do take that position of lock em up are possibly engaging in a defense mechanism to keep inmates at arms distance to prevent being caught up in a lot of the games that get played.

As for the idea of ‘habilitation’ or ‘reform’, that is a debate that has gone on for a while. From the Quakers who tried to reform by creating solitary confinement to modern forms. There is much that is positive in those efforts. There is also a lot that is just incorrect and dangerous.

Conversely, the idea of locking them up and throwing away the key is now showing how irresponsible that is with the nations money. Society has the right and needs to protect itself from those who violate the rules. As an example of where this two needs mesh poorly is in the case of sex offenders. Clearly, predators need to be removed. However, when they are released, forcing them to live under bridges is not an answer either.

Consider the instance of an 18 year old male who gets convicted of statutory rape of a 16 year old. He gets the label ‘sex offender’ for the rest of his life in many jurisdictions. What may have been a truly honest mistake gets a person lableled for the rest of their lives. Not a really productive outcome. Clearly this is overly simplified, but outlines some of the issues, particularly the disparity in treatment between male and female sex offenders (although to be honest, that might be an opinion of mine and not supported by the evidence).

How this relates to being able to have materials to read in AD SEG or Punitive Seg: the idea of control and the goal. I believe that while inmates are in prison, our job is to manage their behavior. Our job is to use those tools we have at our disposal to manage them in a manner to that they are safe: from themselves, each other and from rogue staff. If we can manage them by conditioning certain freedoms (something to read, exercise, or what ever) upon certain types of behavior and that works, then that is what we, as professionals, should do.

The theoretical underpinnings of managing behavior is murky at best. For every theory put forward, there is usually (but not often) enough counter evidence to bring it into question (too small a sample size, bad study criteria, and others). There are many in society who are dedicated to removing ad seg, special housing facilities or what ever name they go by, from the ‘prison system’ in the US. They cite evidence supporting their contentions; point to various elements in the law to support their contentions and other lines of argument.

However, those of us who work inside the systems can testify to how safe prisons systems tend to get when those facilities do exist.

Ultimately, the idea of ‘free will’ versus ‘determinism’ is a matter of personal values. In our culture, the concept of free will is the accepted norm. The individual makes the choices they do and receive the consequences of those choices. That is what makes cases such as the Master’s case I alluded to above so wrong. The individuals we select to assist in making that determination violate the critieria we have established.

I have to agree with Mudflap and the others in this matter. I choose to have that beer. I chose to have the 12 thereafter. I may not have been capable of making responsible judgements about driving nor about the specific decisions involved in driving the vehicle when I ran into the van of kids on the way to where ever, but that does not mean I did not choose to engage in that behavior.

It is simply a tenet of our society that I am reponsible for my decisions and bear the responsibility for those decisions. In that sense, yes, those inside our prisons chose to be there…..

Male user Jon 52 posts

For every “Percy Whetmore,” there is a “Paul,” and the majority of us in between…

Male user Jon 52 posts

By the way, I believe anyone who works in a prison is involved in a very HONORABLE PROFESSION…rhetorically asking, “How do you demonstrate HONORABLE behavior?”

Male user Jon 52 posts

The point I was making Mudflap is this…the concept of prison “volunteerism,” is born of this behavior demonstrated within the experiment…statements about the training we have in place and the entire philosophy we have in place are contradictory…

Here is the mental picture of many who work in prison:

Q: “What did he do?”
A: “He is in here for _.”

This attitude is prevalent amongst employees in correctional institutions and is made evident in many forms; one of which is the idea that denying access to reading materials is somehow going to be an incentive for better behavior.

As I stated earlier, sustained freedom is a tremendous incentive for best behavior for those who have a like mindset of the majority…but it is quite obvious (or should be for an objective viewer) this precious incentive did not cut the mustard for those people who are incarcerated…A BIGGER APPLE THAN FREEDOM presented itself to their eye…

I work with offenders as a substance abuse counselor. I still have a strong sense of custodial issues, such as shakedowns and correct movement/counts and contraband. All of these things impact my job heavily, and despite any other label being placed on back, I still am of the primary belief that CUSTODY is the most important program offered in an institution…without safety and security needs being met, NO person is going to progress in attainment of higher level needs, a’la’ 9/11…

The bottom line is this…we should be doing everything possible to promote change in these people prior to them being released back into the communities…We are called CORRECTIONS PROFESSIONALS for a reason…what are we correcting?

Buckeye flag Mudflap 293 posts

That Standford Prison Experiment (SPE) is deep stuff. I’ve also peeped at the Milgram Experiment.

No question that absolute power does corrupt… but corrections staff don’t have absolute power. I can’t see where an experiment involving untrained people (who have no rules, guidelines, or checks and balances) compares with my profession. My department overflows with rules and regulations that negate the results of the SPE if it’s compared to my job. It certainly shows us the dark side of human nature, but isn’t an indication that I’m in an evil profession. Similar results would be gained if the volunteers were set up as managers and employees in a fast food restaurant, or as police officers and suspects.

The treatment of the “inmates” in the experiment is totally against everything I’ve ever been taught, both personally and professionally. With the “prisoners” kept intentionally uncomfortable by being blind folded as they arrived to the “prison”, issued ill fitting clothing, not allowed to wear underwear, not allowed to look out of windows, not allowed to use their own name (referred to by their assigned number only), and a chain around their ankles to remind them of their status, etc is totally out of context compared to “real” prison. Ditto the fact they were constantly reminded that they have no power and no say in how they are treated.

It isn’t surprising that the “guards”, with no rules, no supervision, and no assistance whatsoever, would get out of hand.

Educate me, Jon. What were you trying to say when you brought this up?

Male user Jon 52 posts

According to your view, Michael Vick volunteered to come to prison…this despite the fact Vick had grown up around dog fighting and many police officers giving tacit approval to the activity by saying nothing as it took place…growing up in an environment where drug dealing, dog fighting, prostitution, assault and battery, are all the norm and given tacit approval by any form of authority…parents/teachers/police, etc…

Yeah, I believe we all have a sense of the innate right…but I also tell you the senses, especially the MONKEY SEE sense, is very difficult to overcome…and the monkey see sense lays waste to your theory of prison volunteerism…

Male user Jon 52 posts

Not an insult…just eye opening…

It can take quite a while to get a firm grasp on what direction corrections should go…

Buckeye flag Mudflap 293 posts

You guys are classic Stanfordites…Look up the Stanford Experiment and if you have any honest sense of looking at self in an objective point of view, you will realize exactly where your arguments and statements of your reality lead…

“Standfordites”? Sounds like an insult. But I searched and found it. Looks interesting. I’ll peep it out in the next few days.

Male user Jon 52 posts

Conscious decisions are made in either case…At issue is the statement of volunteerism…Thinking they volunteer to be in prison gives birth to the mindset that it is ok to treat them any old way.

You guys are classic Stanfordites…Look up the Stanford Experiment and if you have any honest sense of looking at self in an objective point of view, you will realize exactly where your arguments and statements of your reality lead…

Freedom is the absolute best incentive for good behavior, right? RIGHT!?!?!

IF that is the case, then you would be FORCED to admit this incentive FAILED!!! And if freedom fails, then I do not give a hairy rat’s - about all the books and magazines in China…

Ask the typical follow up questions and try to reason this ting out…

Lion Comfortably ... 154 posts

You don’t think denying access to an inmate is an incentive for better behavior? And you claim you’ve been in corrections for 23 years? Have you spent all 23 years of that in an office behind a closed door?

Put a housing unit on lockdown for bad behavior. What do you get? A housing unit of inmates on their best behavior to get their priveledges back. Happens all the time and it works.

I’m tired of the Mommy & Daddy didn’t hug them enough excuse. At some point you become an adult, and know the difference between right and wrong either your mommy & daddy taught you, school taught you, or you’ve seen enough of your “homies” go to prison for doing stupid things. You learn the difference one way or the other. After that it is a choice of which route to take.

So you keep your hug-a-thug mentality, we’ll keep order on the block.

Flag shakey 191 posts

Ok Jon, I have been wearing this badge for corrections for almost 16 years and before that I wore a badge for 13 years that let me catch the people that I now watch . We can swap stories on the right and wrong way that things are done in corrections but when you see the crimminal in action, you see a picture very diiferent than what the Social worker see’s, they see what the offender shows them and thats mostly going to be things that he knows the social worker will want to hear anyway. Thats because he’s trying to prove his mental instability to hopefully lighten the sentence. It’s not a mental illnes to go against the grain, and as they say “there’s a little bit of larceny in all of us”. What it mostly boils down to is that one got caught and one didn’t, one decided to stop and grow up and other one was having to much fun. Again it goes back to choices. We all know whats right and wrong, some just don’t care. As for where we work, Corrections is a living enviroment meaning that we are and will continue to learn, some bad crap happens and so good but untill it changes again, we apply what we know. Oh and whats with the denying thing about “YES!!! We can (AND DO, ON A REGULAR BASIS) WHATEVER THE HELL WE WANT TO DO, WHENEVER THE HELL WE WANT!!!” We have rules that we follow, I know some staff get a little crazy and go to far but on the whole we do what policy says and it don’t say WHATEVER or WHENEVER we want to.

180px hypnotoad JoeDuggins 10 posts


The two concepts are exactly the same. You join the military, you join the prison population. Both are a result of a choice, one is good the other bad, but a choice is made in both cases. If you insist that prisoners didn’t choose to go to jail, then explain how they get there.

Virtue against fury shall advance the fight

Male user Jon 52 posts

Shakey, you must have missed the point about facts, here. As of five years ago, it was estimated 40 percent of the prison population in the US had a mental illness. That number is probably more on the order of 80 percent. You actually think these people can comprehend the concept of “COMMIT THE CRIME and VOLUNTEER to go to prison,” on the same order as a person who walks into a military recruitment office?

Come on. Be real.

Male user Jon 52 posts

Hey Shakey, I think you would do better swapping the Red, White, and Blue, for something more on the order of a black solar wheel on a background of white and red.

I am not an inmate or ex-con. I have worked in corrections for over 23 years. I have worked both adult and juvenile corrections over the course of my career. I have been gassed, spit on, struck many times, kicked, and verbally abused more times than I can count. I have written policy/procedure and have guided the opening of a brand new facility through initial ACA Accreditation as a manager.

I am not perfect and neither are the people I work with or for. I am not dealing with offenders who view the world as I do and neither are you. Cons and offenders can burn in your world. To me, they cannot. They are still human and our system of justice is based on the principles of reformation and rehabilitation. For many, it would be better stated “HABILITATION,” as the prefix “RE” has no place in a world where there was no semblance of pro-social society to begin with…

Without getting into specifics, all of my family has been impacted by corrections, good and bad.

As the question stated, “Can we deny…etc.” YES!!! We can (AND DO, ON A REGULAR BASIS) WHATEVER THE HELL WE WANT TO DO, WHENEVER THE HELL WE WANT!!!

Is it an incentive for behavior to deny access? I do not think so. Show me the results and I will gladly come back and say I am wrong.

Flag shakey 191 posts

OK we get it Jon, your either an EX- INMATE or a CRIMINAL who believes you can do no wrong, You were just born to rob, steal, rape, kill, molest and pick your nose in public, all for the reason that you want to. You believe that the world is your platter and you should not have to be subject to the punishments that a Civilized, Structured, environment places on you when you get caught. You belong to a group of haters that think that no matter what, the world should just burn. You sound like the inmates we deal with, coming at us yelling, talking trash, masturbating then expecting us to show them respect. Their lucky the only thing we can do in ODRC is just take their magazines. If that sounds mean well…ask one of their victims what we should do for punishment..

Male user Jon 52 posts

You guys go ahead and hold onto that theory for as long as you want. You actually want to believe it, go ahead. It will continue to justify in your minds the ability of you to inflict whatever sanctions or punishment you desire.


This is just downright crazy…

Lion Comfortably ... 154 posts

Jon, if a person knows the consequences of breaking the law are coming to prison, and they willingly break the law anyway, they are in a round about way volunteering themselves up for prison life. It’s not like we drafted these guys to come here & I don’t think anyone is forcing these individuals to break the law against their own free will.

180px hypnotoad JoeDuggins 10 posts

Thanks Shakey, I’m glad that someone understands the concept of personal responsibility. I still wouldn’t put military members in the same league as inmates. Service members sacrifice for the good of all of us, inmates are the exact opposite, they take from all of us so they don’t need to sacrifice. I still see an indirect reward/punishment system like confiscating reading materials as a great benefit to population discipline.

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