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Making Prisons Work

Phelan, Lisa C
June 4, 2015

Source: (1997) Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review. 30:1789.

Between 1980 and 1995 the prison population in California increased more than fivefold, according to Lisa Phelan. The financial cost alone to the state and taxpayers of California is enormous. Phelan claims that a high recidivism rate is “the locomotive of this runaway train.â€? The recidivism problem is compounded by California’s “three strikesâ€? law. In this context, Phelan argues that reducing the recidivism rate would slow or stop the growth in the correctional system and would also result in a decrease in crime. The Prison Industry Authority (PIA), a work and educational program run by the California Department of Corrections, offers a unique “real worldâ€? experience to an inmate to get training for a job outside the prison. Phelan explores the current role and future potential of the PIA in reducing recidivism. She does this by examining the PIA’s mission, theories behind imprisonment and prison work programs, and recommendations to streamline and strengthen the PIA.


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