The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on November 17, 1968 · Page 47
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November 17, 1968

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 47

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West Palm Beach, Florida
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Sunday, November 17, 1968
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Page 47
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1 Palm Beach Post-Tim es, Sunday, Nov. 17, 1968D5 U.S. Director Doesn't Like Way Jails Run HEARING $7C AIDS T BottWNt AcCMMOM . Ripam, modal RIVIERA OPTICAL MM Irniy. tmn UA 841-441 treatment and control of offenders have never been fully tested?" Through reform, he would like to test them. you have very limited work and human beings just warehoused? You have talk of things of Interest to them under conditions of idleness sex' and crime. "So when there are disturbances in jails and the prisoners say, 'We need more and better food," or 'The parole board Is too tough," or 'Our sentences are too long,' We don't have enough counsellors,' sometimes what they're really saying is, 'I'm not being changed while I'm here." "MY THANKS" TO AIL WHO VOTED FOR ME NOV. 5TH, AND REELECTED ME AS YOUR SUPERVISOR OF ELECTIONS. MY GRATITUDE AND SPECIAL THANKS TO MY MANY FRIENDS WHO WORKED AND SUPPORTED MY CANDIDACY. I Will CONTINUE TO SERVE ALL PEOPLE OF PALM BEACH COUNTY IN A DIGNIFIED AND EFFICIENT MANNER.. to accept the idea that the denial of freedom is sufficient-punishment, that vengeance is not the prison's purpose. The tool of reform on which Alexander puts first priority is the Indeterminate sentence. It would allow experts to study the "deficiencies" of persons convicted of crime and to retain the prisoner long enough to correct the deficiencies educational, occupational, at-tit udinal or psychological. Release, when it came, would not simply put the con- vict on the street with a few" dollars and a bus ticket. Freedom would come piecemeal, with the Inmate learning to live with It, through wor-re-lease programs, weekend leaves, outside classes, halfway houses and similar untrained and unemployable except as unskilled laborers." 3. Police, courts and prisons often act at odds with one another. Said Alexander: "Correction Is a continuous and closely Interwoven process, no one element of which can be successfully isolated from the other, v uvenile detention, the jail, the court, probation, hallway houses, juvenile institutions, penitentiaries, parole, work release and pre-release programs, academic education, vocational training, group therapy all are Inseparable in their total Impact on delinquent and criminal behavior. "Yet, In practice, these correctional processes are all too often separate and disparate. Only the client as he passes from one process to another senses the discordant and uncoordinated procedures involved in correctional practice." 4. Despite almost universal ' condemnation of the practice, even by the public, Ill-matched prisoners are still thrown togetherthe young car thief penalized for his first offense with the hardened criminal who knows no livelihood outside of lawlessness. "There are an estimated 2 million people a year going through our county jails 3,100 county jails ranging from small jails in rural areas with two or three people in them to, as I saw in Cook county in Chi-' cago, 2,700 human beings warehoused In that place with very limited work at all," said Alexander. "And what happens when 17 -I What Alexander urges, above all else, Is a system that would reform the offender rather than merely punish the offense to change the prison-population, not merely keep It away from society. But first society would have HORACE BEASLEY Pd. Pol. Adv. ROD lira ra ft 3 r o ByMKEFEINSILBER WASHINGTON (UPl)-By 31 a.m. of an ordinary working day In a granite government building, Myrl Alexander was rumpled. His white shirt and white hair awry, he yanked epen his brown necktie and Ireed his throat. From it poured an astonishing mimicry of the dialogue he had heard in hundreds of jails between the prisoners on one tide of the bars and their captors on the other side. A poison stream of sexual epithets, curses and underworld slang sprouted from him. His words put his visitor in Jail. He spoke sofUy, but the visitor could hear the din and clang of prison life. "Brutality!" he exploded, halting the monologue.. "The real brutality In prison Is idleness." As director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Alexander, 5X, is the nation's chief jailer and the foemost overseer of a system he charges with failure. Of the 200,0(10 persons In prison in America on any given day, 96 per cent eventually will be released and two-thirds will be rejailed for new Offenses. This, contends Alexander, is the real "law and order" issue In America barely mentioned In the political campaign the Ineffectiveness of the entire apparatus police, prosecutors, courts and corrections syslems "to Intervene in a criminal career." "We all recognize," he said, somewhat wearily, "that the traditional institutions of the fiHst haven't produced the desired results. , "Simply removingof fenders to an institution as punishment clten only compounds the problem of reintegrating him into the community as a law abiding citizen. AH too fre-Cuently it costs him his job, severs his family ties and pins cn him a label that makes all ef his problems more difficult to overcome. "So as a means of punish-iiient and as an Instrument with which to change criminal behavior, imprisonment is still a failure. "It must be acknowledged that even among the best correctional institutions at least 3d per cent of the inmates become repeaters. Why is this so?" he asked. "Is It because prisons as devices for the atokmy mm ALWAYS FIRST QUALITY " Starting his career as a prison caseworker at the Federal Penitentiary in Atlanta in 19.11, and later warden at Dan-bury, Conn., before becoming director of the Center for the Study of Crime, Delinquency and Corrections at Southern Illinois University and then federal prisons director, Alexander makes four major charges against the nation's system of arresting, sentencing and imprisoning law-breakers: 1. Sentences are handed down for the offense, not for the offender. Some In prison two-thirds of those behind bars, by the estimate of some authorities could be paroled at once without making America's streets less safe. Others, released automatically upon the termination of their sentence (and thereby relieved of the restraints Imposed by the requirement that they report regularly to a parole officer) will predictably return to a life of crime. (The high rate of Recidivism, considered by itself, can be misleading, however. A prisoner rejailed for a minor infraction of his parole terms getting drunk, for Instance-is lumped together in the statistics with one who returns to the criminal way of life. And an ex-convict who leads a steady life for 20 years before being convicted for writing bad checks cannot automatically be called a failure of the prison system.) 2. prisons fail to offer their Inhabitants an alternative way of life by training them for a noncriminal career. Prison schooling has a low priority-most prison instruction is conducted by inmate-instructors and training prisoners to make license plates or mail sacks hardly equips them for work outside. Profiels of prison populations show, Alxander says, that Inmates have "almost precisely the same mental capacity as the general population of the country," but "are educationally retarded, lagging four to five years behind the same age groups in the goner.i' population. 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