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Western Prisons: Introduction to the Studio Discussion

Eleven criminal justice practitioners, from state Corrections directors to inmate advocates, gathered at the KUED studio on Tuesday afternoon January 6th to talk about what works, and doesn't, in dealing with people who commit crimes. Meet each of the participants below. Clicking on a photo will take you to that person's bio.

The face of prison in our society is an adult male, usually black or Hispanic. Our guests talked about some of the less familiar faces that make up the more than 2 million people locked up in federal, state, and county institutions in our country: youth and women with children. They also discussed therapeutic communities, considered the best way to treat prisoners for afflictions, like drug addiction, that got them into prison in the first place. Along the way, they touched on the highly charged issues of race and class, and they considered the future of prisons.

Links in the above paragraphs or the Navigation menu to the right will take you to selections from the transcript that cover those topics. You can also read the complete transcript. Only a portion of this discussion made it into the final show. View the show here in our streaming media presentation of "Western Prisons" [Windows Media format].

Dr. Ed Latessa photo


[N]ot everyone can be treated. We know that there are extremely high risk psychopathic type of offenders that we really don't have any interventions for at this point, but I think the majority of people that come through the criminal justice system can be rehabilitated . . .
Dr. Ed Latessa, Professor and Head of the Division of Criminal Justice, University of Cincinnati


Jackie Crawford photo

[Drugs] . . . do not discriminate . . . I'm seeing more and more middle class persons coming into our prison, and their parents coming, who are absolutely ashamed, embarrassed, and they want to see something done. And I think you're going to see a change in the attitude and change in the direction because they want to know what their tax dollars are going for. They want to see some help for their sibling or their son or their daughter or grandson . . .
Jackie Crawford, Director, Department of Corrections, Nevada

Dorothy Nash Holmes photo

[A]ll the tough-on-crime legislation from the late '80s, '90s -- lock 'em up, lock 'em up longer -- that didn't cut recidivism. It kept the bad guys off the streets longer, but they came out and committed new crimes just as quickly. We have to be smarter.
Dorothy Nash Holmes, Director, Prison Programs, Nevada

Tom Beauclair photo

[T]his is not a corrections problem, it's a social problem, it's a society problem, and until our communities get involved the true test is going to be in the communities, not in prison. . . . [I]t's pretty easy to get sober in prison, particularly in a real safe environment, but the true test is in the community, and without strong community involvement and support there will never be enough money.
Tom Beauclair, Director, Idaho Department of Correction

Elliott Weiss photo

[T]he 12-step programs didn't work for offenders at first because the 12-step program's for someone who knows how to live in society. You have to change their value system first. The 12-step program was written by two gentlemen, two men, designed for men who know how to live in a community. I think we have to take offenders through a therapeutic community and change their sense of values first.
Elliott Weiss, Idaho Department of Correction

Terry Kolkey photo

But I think that thought about simply sending and locking kids up for long periods of time is simply a waste, an enormous waste of resources and a tremendous waste of human potential. [T]he solution has more to do, at least partially, with a reeducation of the public and having people be more honest about the depths and the complexities of the problems.
Terry Kolkey, Defense Attorney, Oregon

Robert Lampert photo

I think part of that [change undergone by prisoners] is a shift in accountability from forced accountability from the prison officials and prison professionals down to the level of peers and ultimately to the level of the individual and their cohorts and positive role models if you will in society helping them maintain that self control.
Robert Lampert, Corrections Director, Wyoming

Dr. Theresa Martinez photo

And by the way that's also a racial issue across the country because when there are a black inmates in the systems or Latino inmates in the system, . . . even though they have the highest rates of arrest for drugs in federal prisons and in state prisons, they're not going into the programs as much as the European Americans, as the whites, I mean so it's a racial issue. Why aren't we putting the money into more beds for those?
Dr. Theresa Martinez,, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Utah

Marianne Johnstone photo

[L]et's say a person kicks your fence and it falls down because it's rotten anyway, but the dog was barking too much and it just got to this person's mindset that it was just not going to listen to it anymore, and he kicks the fence and now he's committed a destruction of property so normally he would go to jail. The fence would still be broken. In restorative justice the fence would be fixed, he would dialogue with the victim whenever possible, he'd dialogue with the community because he has probably frightened the community, and he makes restitution in all these areas. And he doesn't do it while incarcerated . . .
Marianne Johnstone, Director, Prisoner Information Network, Utah

Sheila Leslie photo

We know what works, treatment works as long as you can get it. Too often . . . in Nevada we give a prisoner $20 gate money and say see ya later, good luck, hope we don't see you back here again and of course we do end up seeing most of them back again. So if we know what works why aren't we doing it?
Sheila Leslie, Specialty Courts Coordinator and Nevada State Assembly (Reno)

Tom Bolan photo

I would like the prison of the future, when people leave the prison that they have a vision of hope, they have a pathway towards success, that their only alternative is not to get off the bus and recommit the crime, but that they can seek employment, they can find housing, they can become a part of a family, they can become a part of a fellowship, and they can lead a life like the rest of us have an opportunity to.
Tom Bolan, Director of Step Two (a halfway house for women and their children), Reno, NV

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