Survey of Pennsylvania Jail Wardens

DOI10.1177/0734016805284145
Published date01 September 2005
Date01 September 2005
Subject MatterArticles
10.1177/0734016805284145Criminal Justice ReviewSturges, Hardesty / Survey of Jail Wardens
Survey of Pennsylvania
Jail Wardens
An Examination of Visitation Policies Within
the Context of Ecosystem Theory
Judith E. Sturges
Penn State Fayette, the Eberly Campus
Katherine N. Hardesty
Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
In recent years, jails have become more interdependent with the community, and policy demands
have helped create a system that is becoming more open. The research discussed in this article
focuses on the changes involving inmate visitation and attitudes of jail administrators using the
concepts of ecosystem theory. The authors use an ecosystem perspectiveto suggest that clarify-
ing and standardizing policies, increasing collaborative efforts between county facilities, devel-
oping specialized training for correction officers, and improving methods of disseminating
information to visitors will help lessen some of the problems administrators normally associate
with visitation.
Keywords: jail; visitation; wardens; offenders’ families; ecosystem theory
In recent years, the American jail has become a system in transition. Although jails have tra-
ditionally been isolated from the community they serve, policy changes in the 1970s cre-
ated a demand for public and mental health treatment in jails. Driven in large part by Estelle v.
Gamble (1976), these policy changes have forced a reconnection and interdependency with
the larger community. As the jails became more interdependent with the community, these
policy demands helped create a system that is becoming more open. The research discussed
in this article specifically focuses on the changes involving inmate visitation and attitudes of
jail administrators using the concepts of ecosystem theory.
Visitation, as viewedby administrators within the context of the traditional closed system,
served as a detriment to security.Few studies even mention visitation from the perspective of
correctional personnel. Guynes (1988) states that jail managers acknowledge a need for more
room for visitors in jail facilities. Dilulio (1987) reports that officers are frustrated by visiting
policies because of possible breaches to security.
This concern with security is reflected in the legal foundation of visitation regulations.
Although the Supreme Court has been sympathetic to inmates of jails because of the oppres-
sive conditions often associated with them, security as a legitimate penological interest
141
Criminal Justice Review
Volume 30 Number 2
September 2005 141-154
© 2005 Georgia State University
Research Foundation, Inc.
10.1177/0734016805284145
http://cjr.sagepub.com
hosted at
http://online.sagepub.com
Authors’ Note: This research was partially funded by an ORSAF (Organized Research-Scholarly Activities
Fund) grant from Penn State Fayette, the Eberly Campus.

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