Insiders’ Views of Prison Amenities

Date01 September 2005
Published date01 September 2005
Subject MatterArticles
10.1177/0734016805284305Criminal Justice ReviewTewksbury, Mustaine / Views of Prison Amenities
Insiders’ Views of Prison Amenities
Beliefs and Perceptions of Correctional
Staff Members
Richard Tewksbury
University of Louisville
Elizabeth Ehrhardt Mustaine
University of Central Florida
Existing research on views of prison amenities has largely focused on the general public. This
research assesses the perceptions and views of correctional staff regarding what should be pro-
vided. Based on data from 554 Kentucky Department of Corrections staff members, results show
that correctional staffers tend to have favorable views regarding the presence of prison ameni-
ties. Furthermore, analyses of patterns and trends across types of jobs, experience, and educa-
tional attainment show that prison staffers are accepting of most particular amenities. Finally,
views on prison amenities are related to one’s position and length of experience in the prison, as
well as one’s educational level. Policy and practical implications are discussed.
Keywords: prisonamenities; correctional staff views; Kentucky corrections;survey research
As American correctional institutions continue to expand in number and population
(Harrison & Beck, 2005), they increasingly become points of political and community
attention (see No Frills Prison Act of 1996; Hensley,Miller, Tewksbury,& Koscheski, 2003).
Much discourse in this arena focuses on issues of the consequences of incarceration (for soci-
ety in general and offenders in particular) and what (if anything) should be done with, for, and
to inmates. Should correctional administrators attempt to rehabilitate offenders, or should
prisons simply warehouse offenders in stark and sparse conditions? Should inmates be pro-
vided with access to products, services, and opportunities that those at the bottom of society’s
economic structure are unable to access? Where is the line regarding what should and should
not be available for prison inmates? These questions form the basis of the present study.What
products, services, and programmatic opportunities do correctional staff persons believe are
appropriate and inappropriate for incarcerated offenders? And how do variations in staff
members’ characteristics influence these beliefs?
Both the debate about and research assessing the beliefs of individuals (and categories of
individuals) regarding the appropriateness of providing various amenities to inmates are
fairly recent developments (e.g., No Frills Prison Act of 1996; Applegate, 2001; Hensley
et al., 2003; Johnson, Bennett, & Flanagan, 1997; Lenz, 2002). Only during the past two
decades has a discussion of whether inmates should have access to a variety of products, ser-
vices, and programs been popularly debated. And research about attitudes and beliefs con-
cerning inmates’ access to amenities is a recently emerging and underdeveloped field
Criminal Justice Review
Volume 30 Number 2
September 2005 174-188
© 2005 Georgia State University
Research Foundation, Inc.
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