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Why Work?

NCJ Number
Evelyn Shea LL.D., Ph.D.
Date Published
193 pages
This book examines the importance of work for the rehabilitation of inmates and the safe management of prisons using research from nine correctional facilities in England, France, and Germany.
The results indicate that prison labor is in crisis, mainly for three reasons: first, labor does little for the professional rehabilitation of inmates. Second, prison business prospered 30 years ago, but globalization damaged prison industries, which can no longer match the productivity of emerging countries or meet the required levels of reactivity and flexibility. Finally, a heightened feeling of insecurity and the ensuing intolerance towards crime have led to a sizable increase in the number of inmates that cannot be matched by a corresponding growth of jobs. This book is divided into four parts, Part 1 deals with the legal framework of prison labor, its goals and guiding principles, the organization and management of labor, and the legal status given to inmate workers, and provides answers regarding the ability of the legislation in the three countries. Parts 2 and 3 examine the gap that separates law and practice; the parts compare the way legislation is implemented and how work is perceived by inmates in nine prisons. Part 4 focuses on the constraints and difficulties with which prison labor has to contend, and discusses the reforms proposed by the three countries. Data were collected with this publication through a questionnaire that was distributed in English, French, or German to roughly 20 percent of the workforce in three long-term prisons in each country; all respondents were male inmates sentenced to 3 years or more. Ninety inmates participated in a semistructured interview, and informal discussions were conducted with staff; workshops and other workplaces were observed. Tables, bibliography, and a list of abbreviations