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Prison Reform

A Guide to Finding Government and Legal Information

Web version of this guide includes links to web resources.

Search Tips:

Mix and match these terms in searching the library catalog, WestCat , or use them to search journal articles and law reviews via the library's Databases page. You can also use them to search government information sites listed on our Starting Points page - click the tab and pay particular attention to the Top Six.

  • prison reform
  • alternatives to prisons
  • imprisonment
  • incarceration
  • recidivism
  • penology
  • administration of justice
  • sentencing reform
  • nonviolent offenders
  • rehabilitation
  • restorative justice
  • criminal psychology
  • prisons privatization
  • prison discipline
  • solitary confinement
  • prison gangs
  • corrections
  • drug courts

Related Topics:
  • cruel and unusual punishment
  • capital punishment
  • while collar crime

An important source for many research topics is Congress. Congressional committees and subcommittees hold hearings on a wide variety of controversial and timely subjects. Simply add the word "hearing?" to a search string in WestCat .

Search Engines

Google and StartPage
Use these search engines to search for government information by typing "site:gov" in the search box preceding your search terms:

  • site:gov "prison reform"
Law Review Articles

Law reviews are an important resource for legal topics like this one. They can lead you to laws and cases as well as discuss legal theory. A few law journals are indexed in multidisciplinary databases, but the best bang for your buck will be to search LexisNexis Academic for full-text access to many hundreds of law reviews.

Federal Government Information
Keeping Youth Safe While in Custody: Sexual Assault in Adult and Juvenile Facilities

This hearing focuses on the Prison Rape Elimination Act and the effect its implementation would have on victims of prison rape, including juveniles. 2010
Y 4.J 89/1:111-100

Creating a Workforce Development Culture to Reduce Reincarceration

This NIC publication discusses the positive results of a prison program (based on the Habits of Mind and instituted in Vermont) on recidivism for those participating in the program. 2009
J 16.102:R 27 do we have?

Inmate Behavior Management: The Key to a Safe and Secure Jail

This paper, written for corrections administrators, describes a six-point system for successfully managing prisoners in order to maximize safety of inmates and staff. 2009
J 16.102: IN 6

Direct Supervision Jails: The Role of the Administrator

Description 2010
J 16.102:J 19/5 do we have?

Oversight of State-Run Juvenile Correctional Facilities Known as Boot Camps

After several juveniles were killed or allowed to die by staff at state-run boot camps, Congress holds a hearing on their effectiveness at reducing recidivism. 2008
Y 4.J 89/1:110-127

Drug and Veterans’ Treatment Courts: Seeking Cost-Effective Solutions for Protecting Public Safety and Reducing Recidivism

This hearing describes the benefits of drug and veterans' treatment courts and recommends an expansion of the program. 2011
Y 4.J 89/2:S.HRG.112-179

Electronic Monitoring Reduces Recidivism

This short report describes the effectiveness of electronic monitoring as well as its pros and cons. 2011

Adult Probationers/Parolees with Mental Illness in the Criminal Justice System

Cursory statistics of adult offenders in federal corrections in D.C.

Alternatives to Incarceration: A Smart Approach to Breaking the Cycle of Drug Use and Crime

PREX 26.2:IN 2 do we have this?

Illinois Government Information
Research Briefing: Illinois Felony Sentencing, A Retrospective

Description 2011

Juvenile Recidivism in Illinois: Examining Re-Arrest and Re-Incarceration of Youth Committed for a Court Evaluation


Legal Information

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A Guide to Selected Government Information Available at WIU's Government Publications Library

Web version of this guide includes links to web resources.

Federal Government Information
Boot Camps for Juvenile Offenders

This boot camp program summary defines the program, its goals, and the issues surrounding its use. A study of three experimental boot camps and boot camp success overall is discussed. 1997
J 32.20/2: C15

A National Survey of Aftercare Provisions for Boot Camp Graduates

Research indicates no dramatic difference in recidivism rates for boot camp graduates, but it is hoped that aftercare programs will help deter future crime. This report focuses on 13 U.S. aftercare programs. 1996
J 28.24: AF8

The Community Corrections Center Program in the Bureau of Prisons

One answer for prison overcrowding might be independently owned, cost-efficient community corrections centers. This webpage recommends increasing the number sentenced to these centers.

Oversight of the District of Columbia Department of Corrections National Institute on Corrections Study

Washington D.C.'s Department of Corrections is critically understaffed and underfunded and many prisons are in need of serious repair. This hearing includes a report on the conditions in the Lorton complex and other prisons as well as recommendations for improvement. 1996
Y4.G 74/7: D63/17

Federal Prison Industries, Incorporated

UNICOR is a federal company employing able-bodied prisoners and teaching job skills. This hearing discusses its advantages, that it generates high revenue and low recidivism rates, and its disadvantages, that other businesses cannot compete. 1996
Y4.J89/1: 104/121

Hearing on H.R. 3705

Many prisoners have sued to receive minimum wage for their work in prison industries. This hearing discusses the advantages and the consequences of prison work below minimum wage. 1995
Y4.ED 8/1: 103-113

Public Health/Corrections Collaborations: Prevention and Treatment of HIV/AIDS, STDs, and TB

The American prison population holds a disproportionate number of inmates with these health problems. This research discusses collaborations between prisons and health departments, examines the success of current programs, and makes suggestions for future treatment and prevention. 1998
J 28.24: H88/3

Providing Services for Jail Inmates with Mental Disorders

The steady increase in prison populations will lead to the increased incarceration of those diagnosed with mental disorders. Prisons often have very few mental health services. This publication offers different types of treatment programs for mentally ill inmates and explains how to implement them. 1997
J 28.24: In 6

Programs in Correctional Settings

Many states have developed inmate programs designed to train and to treat offenders. This website explains 21 state programs focused on female inmates, substance abuse, and juvenile offenders, including Illinois' sex offender treatment program.

Correctional Education

This Department of Education webpage defines education in prison, explains what should be taught, and provides statistics on education in the prison population. It is also discusses Acts which provide funding for prison education.

Resolution of Prison Riots

Prison officials are looking for ways to stop prison riots and their resulting injuries and costs. This study looks at eight riotous incidents having successful resolutions and offers resolution strategies. 1995
J 28.24: R 31/2

Two Views on Imprisonment Policies

These two theoretical arguments debate the reasons for the excessive prison population in the United States. Franklin Zimring believes that our nation's similar sentencing of nonviolent and violent prisoners is to blame, while Michael Block theorizes that the lack of punishment for offenders has boosted the crime rate. 1996
J 28.24/3: IM 7

Work Release: Recidivism and Corrections Costs in Washington State

Although work release programs are in decline, an evaluation of Washington's program was positive. One quarter of the work release prisoners made a successful transition into the community, and recidivism was reduced. 1996
J 28.24: W 89

Illinois Government Information
Illinois Correctional Industries-Annual Report Fiscal Year 1998

In efforts to reintegrate offenders into society, the Illinois Department of Corrections provides prison industries and training for the incarcerated. This report includes program goals, sales, productivity, and other statistics. 1998
ILLINOIS 365.65 I29ca 1998

Five-Year Plan for Female Inmates--Fiscal Year 1997 Update

Because of the overwhelming growth in the numbers of Illinois female inmates, a long-term plaan is necessary. This update assesses the current status of the 1995 recommendations and the issues that face incarcerated women. 1997
ILLINOIS 365.43 I29f UPDATE 1997

Legal Information
Title VIII--Prison Litigation Reform Act

This law limits the rights of prisoners in filing lawsuits, including rules about approprriate relief regarding prison conditions, proceedings, screening of lawsuits, and revocation of earned release credit. 1996
P.L. 104-134 110 STAT. 1321-66

"Prison Litigation Reform Act of 1995"

This article discusses the PLRA and its provisions against consent decrees. It gives arguments for and against the Act, as well as citations for cases questioning the Constitutionality of the law. 1997
Wisconsin Law Review. 1997, no. 6, pp. 1275-321.

"Bursting at the Seams"

This article discusses the compassionate release of AIDS patients from prisons. The author provides statistics and reasons why infected prisoners should be released. Options other than release are examined. 1998
New England Journal of Criminal and Civil Confinement. Summer 1998, pp. 541-597.

Symposium: A Fork In the Road Build More Prisons Or Develop New Strategies To Deal With Offenders

A sharing of views regarding prison alternatives including such topics as recidivism, public perception, alternatives to sentencing and parole, community supervision of juvenile and adult criminals, punishment effectiveness, white-collar offenders, and aftercare programs for ex-offenders.
Southern Illinois University Law Journal. Vol. 23 No. 2 Winter 1999 pp. 285-543

"Ultramasculine Prison Environments and Inmates' Adjustment: It's Time To Move Beyond the 'Boys Will Be Boys' Paradigm"

This article explores how environment influences gender development and contends that incarceration and prison boot camps reward aggression, are dominated by reliance upon sex-role stereotypes, and actually deter treatment attempts to change antisocial male behavior. Study findings compare traditional incarceration with prison boot camps.
Justice Quarterly. Vol. 16, No. 4 December 1999 pp. 709-733

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