Penal Reform

May 2, 1952

Report Outline
Prison Riots and Penal Administration
Slow Change in American Prison Systems
Institutional Rehabilitation of Prisoners
Treatment of Offenders in the Community
Special Focus

Prison Riots and Penal Administration

Under ordinary circumstances the American public is completely unaware of what happens to men and women after conviction and sentencing for crime. A jail break or prison riot may stir temporary interest in the community affected, but on the whole the prison population of the United States is about as remote from the national consciousness as Devil's Island from metropolitan France.

But the national concern over organized crime, as revealed by federal and local investigations, may now be turned to concern for effective treatment of criminals as the result of a series of outbreaks in prisons which has extended back more than a year. Recent prison violence has been neither so widespread nor so serious as the bloody riots of 1929–1930 which brought major reforms in some areas. However, the large-scale convict mutinies in New Jersey and Michigan in April, and the danger that they will be followed by similar outbreaks elsewhere, have directed serious attention to the need for different methods of handling inmates of the country's prisons.

New Jersey and Michigan Convict Mutinies

April 1952 saw a series of prison outbreaks in New Jersey, first at the state prison at Trenton, then at the prison farm at Rahway. New Jersey's pioneer work in methods of rehabilitating younger prisoners has won praise from many quarters, but the physical limitations of the maximum-security prison at Trenton (located in the middle of a city, on a site occupied since 1798) have made any serious attempts at rehabilitation for all the inmates nearly impossible.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Apr. 12, 2019  Bail Reform
Oct. 19, 2018  For-Profit Prisons
Mar. 03, 2017  Women in Prison
Jan. 10, 2014  Sentencing Reform
Sep. 14, 2012  Solitary Confinement
Mar. 11, 2011  Downsizing Prisons
Dec. 04, 2009  Prisoner Reentry
Apr. 06, 2007  Prison Reform
Jan. 05, 2007  Prison Health Care
Sep. 17, 1999  Prison-Building Boom
Feb. 04, 1994  Prison Overcrowding
Oct. 20, 1989  Crime and Punishment: a Tenuous Link
Aug. 04, 1989  Can Prisons Rehabilitate Criminals?
Aug. 07, 1987  Prison Crowding
Nov. 25, 1983  Prison Overcrowding
Feb. 26, 1982  Religious Groups and Prison Reform
Jun. 18, 1976  Criminal Release System
Mar. 12, 1976  Reappraisal of Prison Policy
Oct. 20, 1971  Racial Tensions in Prisons
Oct. 13, 1965  Rehabilitation of Prisoners
Oct. 09, 1957  Prisons and Parole
May 02, 1952  Penal Reform
Jan. 30, 1937  The Future of Prison Industry
May 08, 1930  Prison Conditions and Penal Reform
Crime and Law Enforcement
Sentencing and Corrections