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Designing a Reformatory Conflict Management and Dispute Resolution System Through Mediation (Restorative Justice: International Perspectives, P 477-492, 1996, Burt Galaway and Joe Hudson, eds. -- See NCJ-172607)

NCJ Number
R A Salem
Date Published
16 pages
A lengthy intervention by an outside mediator at a maximum- security reformatory in Minnesota mitigated racial violence, heightened racial understanding among all the parties, contributed to better management practices at the institution, and led to the development of conflict-prevention and conflict- management structures that are still in use some 20 years later.
This paper describes the circumstances that led to mediation at the St. Cloud Reformatory (Minnesota) and the long path to the table, as well as the mediation process. Racial unrest and conflict among inmates and between inmates and staff, as well as a riot in August 1973, eventually led to a mediation effort by the Community Relations Service (CRS) of the U.S. Justice Department. After much planning and preliminary work, the CRS team brought inmate and staff representatives to the table for mediation. Feelings were expressed, and conflicts were identified and analyzed. A signed agreement by the two parties reflected some 6 months of effort. The agreement intended to solve the most pressing problems and to design structures to prevent them from recurring. Several enforcement mechanisms were built into the agreement. Eighteen months later there had been no serious racial violence at the institution. Administrators attributed this to the new mini-prison concept and to mediation. The Inmate-Staff Council was functioning, and there were fewer complaints about the disciplinary system and racial discrimination. Some 15 years later the mediator in the original dispute returned to the institution to find that many of the elements of the mediation agreement remained in place to provide a structure for dealing with inmate-staff conflicts.