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Grand Designs, Small Details: The Management Style of James V. Bennett

NCJ Number
Federal Prisons Journal Volume: 3 Issue: 3 Dated: (Winter 1994) Pages: 29-39
J W Roberts
Date Published
11 pages
James V. Bennett was the Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons for 27 years; many of the management principles he expressed continue to be valuable nearly 30 years after the end of his administration.
Bennett was best known for his visionary philosophy of corrections and as one of the most determined exponents of rehabilitation programs. Bennett achieved all his greatest goals: reducing institutional regimentation; building clean, open, and modern institutions; developing meaningful work opportunities for inmates; improving educational and vocational training programs; providing diagnostic and counseling services; and instituting halfway house programs. Along with this focus on broad issues, Bennett had a mastery of the smallest details. This attention to detail helped him achieve some of his most ambitious goals. From the beginning, Bennett emphasized central direction and oversight, personnel issues, stewardship of resources, and innovation. He also focused on details and functions, including tight budgets, legislative processes, minute points of supervision, internal newsletters and other forms of communicating with personnel, and institutional sanitation. By attending to such details, he was able to cultivate a prison system that achieved his much larger goal of individualized treatment. Photographs and 18 references