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2 Offender Rehab. 5 (1977-1978)

handle is hein.journals/wjor2 and id is 1 raw text is: 


                ON NORMALIZATION

                I recently received a letter from an inmate serving a
life sentence in a state prison. It was a letter filled with the kinds of
computations that estimated the amount of time it would take through
pison incentive payments to purchase very ordinary commodities at
prison commissary prices. It would take 4 hours for an inmate earning
5 cents an hour to purchase a 20-cent bar of soap; in a prison where the
top payment is 20 cents an hour it would take 6 hours to buy a book of
crossword puzzles, and 3 weeks of work where the maximum payment
is 50 cents a day to buy a plain cotton shirt to wear on visiting day. The
inmate concluded his letter with a call for paying inmates who work in
accordance with minimum wage laws. His was a novel way of looking
at and stating an old demand. We are getting close to the day when
prisoners will be paid equal pay for equal work. But the mere payment
of normal wages will not produce the kinds of normal, real-life situa-
tions in which disposable income may be used in ways that allow savor-
ing the fruits of one's labor. Some prison administrators have accepted
the view that normalization of prison life offers more advantages than
disadvantages and does not depend on future changes in policy or law.
  Normalization is the best thing to happen in corrections in this
century, said one superintendent as he showed me around the grounds
of a century-old maximum security institution. Like the creator of a
shopping mall he proudly pointed out a vast supermarket replacing the
traditional skimpy commissary-a place where inmates could buy
items, including cold cuts and refrigerated cold drinks, at discount
house prices because many different items could be bought in bulk,
bringing down unit costs. Here, inmates were learning-by-doing how to
become effective comparison shoppers, how to read the contents labels
of products, how to make personally important choices. The superin-
tendent pointed out a clearing that was to be the location of a United
States Post Office. All postal services available to the public will be
available to inmates. If there are post offices in towns with populations
                Of In ,h-I Rehabilnt,,,on, Volt. 2(1, FallI 1977  5
                c 1977 by The Haworth Pr-s. All right s r5eved

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