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Developing Comprehensive Activities' Programming for Inmate Recreational Needs in County Jails - A Human Systems Recreation Dynamics Approach

NCJ Number
D V Walakafra-Wills
Date Published
24 pages
The Sacramento County Jail (California) has designed a comprehensive, structured recreational program aimed at meeting inmates' expressed needs and at offering them a variety of options in recreation activities.
Most county jails use the 'corral approach,' in which inmates are herded into an enclosed area containing little equipment or planned activities. Other traditional approaches are the 'direct approach,' which gives inmates a limited number of choices: the 'negative indirect approach,' which aims to get inmates tired; the 'preoccupied approach,' which tries to keep inmates occupied regardless of their interest in the program; the 'limited approach,' which allows recreation only within the inmates' own cells or tanks and only with limited table or card games; and the 'isolated approach,' which restricts recreation even further. These approaches are used by at least 78 percent of California's correctional institutions. In contrast, the 'positive indirect approach' used in Sacramento entails inmate surveys four times a year. These surveys form the basis of purchases of equipment and supplies. The program rests on the view that inmates have the right to recreation within an institution. The program provides adequate and attractive space with a variety of equipment and activities. Effective recreation programing results in inmates' involvement and participation, which should then produce reductions in stress, frustrations, and violent behaviors. Forms and eight references are provided.


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