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Watered Down: Partial Implementation of the New Generation Jail Philosophy

NCJ Number
Prison Journal Volume: 86 Issue: 3 Dated: September 2006 Pages: 284-300
Christine Tartaro
Date Published
September 2006
17 pages
This article presents the findings of a 2004 national survey of podular direct-supervision jails ("new generation" jails) in order to determine whether they are fulfilling the model and expectations for the complete direct-supervision jail.
The survey findings indicate that most of the jails that identified themselves as direct-supervision jails have not adopted the full direct-supervision model. Training and education requirements for jail officers are well below those for police officers. Communication-skills training, which is critical to the work envisioned for direct-supervision officers, was offered for only one or two days in most of the jails. When asked about unit management, a touted feature of the direct-supervision jail, only 40 percent of respondents indicated they were using this type of management structure. More jails were operating under a centralized-hierarchical structure. An associated finding was few jails were providing inmate services on the pod level. Very few of the responding jails have attempted to normalize the jail's physical environment and reduce or eliminate punitive features of the jail regimen, which have been promoted as features of the "new generation" jail. Apparently this has not been done out of the fear that the public will view jail policymakers and administrators as "soft" on criminals, even though many jail residents are in a pretrial status and have not been convicted of a crime. There has also been a concern that inmates will destroy more normative furnishings and fixtures. Apparently, policymakers and jail administrators have no confidence in research that has reported less destructiveness by inmates who are in normalized physical environments that generate positive expectations in which officers rely on communication rather than strict custody. Out of 275 surveys sent to eligible jails throughout the country, 150 jails responded. 3 tables and 34 references