thumbnail of Prison document; Life in custody
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
It is a bit of a head of the law of the right. You have that it would be brutal and predator in a county courthouse the circuit judge sentences a convict to defend it within a few hours the former accused will become a convict. A prisoner an inmate of a state penitentiary. What kind of institution will he enter. Under what conditions will he do what will be done to or for him in your state. Will he be merely punished or will an attempt be made to understand him as an individual in need of help to find a partial answer to these questions. Questions to which the public is paid slight attention from earliest times a representative of the
Florida State University visited state penal institutions throughout the United States. The result of these visits is a prison document a series of radio programs in which the individuals involved from the governor to the loneliest person are tell their own stories. A boy is coming to say oh you want to. And when I was down here three years. What do you want to make you first time here. How many times you get one. One no one in this place has. Much money to give to 100 or.
So the convicted man enters a penitentiary. Whether this is a labor force prison or one in which emphasis is on custody or one geared to rehabilitation of inmates. Regardless of the prevailing philosophy they are the day to day mechanics of prison life. The prison pattern into which the inmate must suddenly put himself prison document takes you to an institution on a mountainside. The grounds are neat buildings preciously painted. All inmates except kitchen and hospital workers wear uniforms with two inch vertical stripes on trousers and jackets. Listen to this. Bear in mind the essential question behind prison documents. What are our prisons for. To benefit society by punishing the offender or to benefit society by treating him as a man in need of help. In many such institutions is the chaplain. In this particular prison our reporter found a chaplain whose influence extends far
beyond his pastoral duties. And the people who are interested in them. And generally come about nine o'clock in the morning sometimes get away by. And on several occasions I have been able to find friends and even a mother of one boy he had known where he was a number of years. Then I have my start as a Sunday school and services on the science we have and this is tuition. The opportunity for each create a nomination to have their own servers. And outside of their own particular services.
The regular services in the ator Miranda nomination allow to get. In my contact with me and I am not a nomination. So how did you happen to get into corrections. Well I have come from a background police. Family does every policeman in our family and I have. Become interested in the man who ran initiatives last year that the net began the ministry. There's been several. Years now. And I work Allison jails become interested in prison and that you went through the seminary that I know I would head to a half years because. One of my merit. Better worse. Is in the recreational thing. We're repairing the OGM. And. Very nice. To meet in front of me and to exercise himself and also to make a better sport. At the time we have my bar baseball course you're pitching. And
we have quite a few boys planned out again. They are allowed to have all radios and know of no TV at night at 9 o'clock and I should point out they are not allowed to hear the worst radio goes out of the line. Mail is one of the few contacts a prisoner has with normal life outside the writing and receiving of letters assumes an odd importance when it is related to discipline. I notice all these letters are split up and you have to take your mold about how many data you have to have say between 200 and of course the populations around 6 7 is right now is when I what do you look for in a sense or. Rather not. Mostly for. My hands about the screen writing letters to somebody and we do break up last crank or escape through letters. I mean you know when they get there we get the letters. They're having trouble with the last year.
That's what we look for most when are you able to sometimes. Prevent a man from having a bad experience whenever I write a Dear John letter or somebody writes It is girlfriends running around are you able to Chaplin The first before I get such a thing and not a case of how many hours a day to take in the centering business I say about I was about eight hours. I suppose you find something that is an escape plan or something which is not allowed to go through censorship. Watch what happens at night when I take the letter to Davy ward and there he works that it probably is mainly rooms taken away for 30 days. Then you hang on to his mail in the box here get a list of every war was over made a very great and his mail can't go but just suppose he gets packages Well anythings has his price. We will let them have it among which happens many duties is the running of the prison
library library. How many books do you have. Approximately fifteen hundred books. PRES. Could you classify them according to types there are numbers we have product here. Classroom books from seventh eighth grade junior high and high school books history geography biology some science books then we have the right direction. And some classical theory. What type of reading matter do you find in his fiction is most popular. Will you do any censorship of the fiction. I guess some not a great day what do you eliminate the cheap fiction that is so popular today we do not allow in our life and have few magazines Cornett Readers Digest and things not order in the paperback but the journal paperback but we don't actually the National Geographic is that popular yet very popular magazine Popular
Science power mechanics and all types of sports magazines are very popular. What kind of circulation. I have a better home tonight. Well you'd be surprised boys how we ask cartoons they lack fine cartoons and we have boys who draw on other kinds of pictures and they lack pictures of gardens all sorts of things. What hours do you maintain here as a general rule about four hours a day I mean working two shifts. And in the early morning there's no opportunity for just about a dozen me and only yard to come in so afternoon is I reckon library time what time in the afternoon where from noon until about 4:30. Where do you get your books. How do you obtain. We have written to the different libraries throughout the state and most of the books here are donated by thunderclap duplicate hard copies that are on
wanted because maybe age or something in their lavish Boulder is a prison term meaning inmate who is given responsibility which you would normally expect to find assigned to custodial staff. All reporter interviews ahead Boulder in his cell. I give em a print only and tell them when I go away that I'm when I go the way I come of and I love you I'm not that much time in the morning. I love to say they go to me all of 15 anatomy of a word. Now these watch of an individual are very shallow and with a key notion we have only then the cells they get the DNA damage 11:30 will come again and you leave the cells open when there were no men about in the morning and then added an additional to get lunch and we're not even locked at 3:30 and will be 3:30 a.m. after a lot of time and
I don't want to get rid of the lines only 3:30 in the afternoon and then it's down and out and night and that's when we're not Bambi at hand and and in and out I've got a life and that's with him and this is as much for the home because I really love him. And all the lights went out. But in the Miller say it all ball of light you still know. That was a bold her talking. There was a difference of opinion among inmates as to the qualifications for a good Boulder. Some believe a good Boulder is a good leader. Some believe a good Boulder is a good stool pigeon. The inmates in this institution spend most of their waking hours as laborers in coal mines. We're not concerned with their working hours on this program. We're examining their home life. As with the receiving and writing of letters even the simple business of eating a meal becomes distorted in prison.
The chaplain takes us into the dining room when he refers to the silence system he is not referring to the noise in the dining room but rather to the fact that men are not permitted to talk and listen and not lean on that announced theirs or make the shot when they make all the raid and cake I and also have spline rooms downstairs in the A and freezing the A and our arms one room in the kitchen. Fortunately I am enormously not taking their position was in the center of the room or and these are the servers nearly or Certainly I am on the island in which Chairman Lee Hamilton. Now these arenas are only trustees Yzerman largest. The center of this particular work and right there is no need for trespassing here this is the one institution I have heard of in the country where the men get all the mail that they want to break off from as long as the milk last ounce of baggers the protection of your farmer and as a general rule I have
are likely rank to call some away when they were second say raise their hand I raised my hand I shall have them in ever mention anything about this quiet system now that's very well understood and our species came out of her life and it is a sore spot in our institution that has the word trouble can bring anything of direction to. They take just what they want the race around for and a great deal of our own beef on the farm here so we have quite a bit of me and I also claim a beach table our line across. I must wait on the out that the guard is a single man. When Allah finished on that plan and they all get up together and what happens if the men start chatting. Or he'll be taken from Marie to the devotees office where he will be giving his. Newest. Opinion on this is very honest in his
manner is the tower back against sassier smart by now to be a few more days and then a couple days in south of town and they are really just probably fighting anywhere from half an hour a day or so feet have picked up here all around with their food but their house is already filled and set in on the tape and as they leave they round Tesco man that comes in a vessel for a parrot at the door they lays there a day and a check. Yes there's a car stands there. That containers are standing guard in here the prisoners inside the 9 ring. Now the only way of Eleazar hood because he has most rights there is no official uniform of their own they are not required to wear uniforms here in the state doesn't furnish ICICI me another working for him there with the sale of a firearm. Isn't there a hearing or this case.
He works out taking into them and not me in hand just a short time before they must see him or sail for camp. Now they were out in the yard as a general rule they go to the canteen for the last bar handy or they can go as often as they want at the five o'clock then they. Have you in your sales letter count. Our reporter asked what's wrong with this prison. He got a variety of answers. Most of them you would observe were based on the assumption that the prison was necessary but the system was potentially good. Here is the chaplain's answer what is the big problem in your state in corrections. Getting personnel that are qualified. We have long hours how long for instance does a guardrail here and 13 hours a day seven days a week or what kind of a salary average from one hundred to one hundred forty per month for most of the guards and personnel are older men who
get a pension or Social Security and who only have one arm or one leg or disabled so they can get jobs and other work that has a bearing upon the inmate and they get a bad day of society when they have a lower caliber individual working and being over them for seepage. The warden told me that he had a new salary scale and he should be able to do better in fact he had to fire a couple men last week because we found a gallon of moonshine in their order Sunday morning. Found a man up here on guard duty and had to get him relieved. The rate of pay is low does not attract qualified personnel. Our reporter talked to one of the guards. The conversation opens with a guard's explanation of why he did not carry a club while on duty inside the prison. Some guards do carry clubs did not. Well the reason why I don't carry a club around if I have this club
and get into it. Man I know there will be other men attack me. How long you were working five thirty five day seven days a week kind of soured you might get a hundred thirty dollar room and board it when I was 17 years old and lived Jordy and cave Georgie and the doorman Emily Rapp back and no one would and Bob Kerrey and the villain rode to their becoming as close to what I talk man on the cross Tony said I'd like to hire some truck drivers He says if I get some men to back up peaceable right here he said I'll back up I want to trust weak and I want to talk to God credit for sixty dollars a month. You got out of high school and had you know I never had gotten out of high school for the sixth grade. As far as I've got. And so that's back on me to take up the NES Now suppose
suppose you had a son who was growing up there out of school now what would you recommend the corrections custodial feel for what our reporter talked to a prisoner still asking the question what's wrong with this institution. We're going to meet coming here and I said no but I can manage our not I don't know just what's a qualified for someone of my unit that has a trade in it and I think our death in the most you know in here and they're not put on their own head looks like the state could make an agreement with some companies or something outside the price thanking your family and saying you know I have a job like mom when I got out this man was touching on one of the areas of Penology which has lately come in for great study the classification system all report of another prisoner who had a
definite answer to the question what's wrong with this prison. If they would pay a man a little something where he was and keep the money and now a face only looks until it may go down any that way they're sent to label the men should have an opportunity to earn money. The prisoners that. And yet on his tour with the warden our reporter discovered that some men do earn money through the sale of craft articles made during leisure time. What in this display these display display cases down here are for the general employees and so forth to say and what you take on leather goods. You have a big heart. Everything you see on there is me right here in the Prius. I see rain. I have some boxes there. Your boxes. I sure feel for the past I find in a sort of practice and see how they're going to tell signs here
and over here they're so old or lazy covers scarfs are tough about how much does a man make here. Well some are very industrious and they get along pretty well. Some of them make make here. Brains are built for this boat just because they can to get their money out here and I'm doing pretty well. Say five better money and now we have a prison bank in major bank and a deposit that money in the bank and they have money to get ready to go out and have any recollection of some of the big accounts. I believe them. All for 10 years I've been here I believe about four fourteen sixteen hundred dollars for a man who's been in the I don't think you are the Iranian billionaire this story I think about. Well now remember he's been
here about 15 years. Aside from custody or personnel the only three people with whom the president comes in contact his occasional visitors eyes I look up there I see your visitors gallery about maybe 50 feet long there you have a double screened partition with a heavy wire screen that is MH on the other then their own a flat screen. Clean it up to three screens into you know when a visitor comes in there is down there who live here in midtown. Combine a screen and found it dark here and hard line and a guard listens to workers No not necessarily must always see what's going on you know. And if the visitors want to leave some money leave it with a gun. No lady with a will recommend you. But if the six people I know take the name and the money in which each of you to the state and anything any attorney in the Navy do when they leave it to the Max Max and have to
dedicate any give it to him at a news exceed a bunch of new trust fund for him. Such is a sample of some of the mechanics of life in prison. Again our basic question what are our prisons for. Do they merely exact payment from the offenders or do they prepare him to go back to the world outside and live productively within the law. Some people ologists believe strongly that punishment without positive effort that rehabilitation only tends to confirm a man in his antisocial behavior. Yet here is a prisoner who will be released in about two months and demand to and he is in isolation. Last a simple Manny don't feel good but it's summer MIERDA don't seem good as there's a dark hole but no magic like on the floor and I got a steal me but nothing else. What did you think about when you were in isolation. I'm a good man but I know impossibly get after me every time. What are some of the things for
which man is put in. When I saw Tom when NMSL no class and no damage and no play video and I you know some of them play on what they can use them they say I don't need to get at a matinée bet in Mason hollow when holiday get at me I'm going there they go to get into when you get out get a job don't worry I've got enough this time and one way I'm more I guess in a way I've been here and I would have been great and I'm in no way I was going to have to and I mean I've been known ironic don't play content authority for prison documents is Dr. Bernard Parks of the faculty of the School of Social Welfare at Florida State University. Here is Dr. Fox with comment on the statements you have heard what are prisons for what are they trying to do. Many of the persons who work in prisons have never thought much about it. Some
who have thought about it have a right. Many different answers. The answer to that is always right is the protection of society the protection of society however is meaningless by itself. For society could be protected by any number of different ways humane or inhumane sophisticated or ignorant by treatment or by the elimination of the individual. Asking prison administrators what they are doing in their prisons. Their objectives their purposes invariably results in expressions of correctional and rehabilitative philosophy. Observing the practices in these prisons however reveals wide discrepancies between the expressed theory and the everyday practice of several different philosophies can be seen in operation in the actual practice of American prisons. There are
several prisons that use the punishment approach. The expression of aggression has a constructive function in the draining off of aggression in the public mind or in the minds of the administrators of the prisons. The question becomes how many offenders can we sacrifice. For the. Expression of aggression of a group. There are other prisons. That practiced the treatment philosophy. These prisons have actually abolished the hall our solitary confinement as disciplinary practices and have substituted. Adjustment centers with the psychiatric psychological and social work help. Complete with occupational therapy and other phases of the treatment process.
There are still other prisons that combine the punishment and the treatment approach and punishment and treatment are carried on side by side. These prisons usually concentrate their psychiatric psychological and social work personnel and do a good job on a few cases. And yet the majority of their inmates are subjected to the old traditional almost punishment approach. There are some other prisons that are interested neither in treatment nor punishment. These prisons are interested only in segregation and keeping the offender out of the public's hair for a specified length of time. The famous quote by a warden Roy best. Most clearly demonstrates this particular philosophy. If they get on the well
shouldn't that be a type of philosophy that appears in American prisons. Is the maintaining of a labor force for the public works most of this type of approach is in the south eastern states where prisoners work on the highways. This philosophy is in some states actually included in the state's statute books. Too many of our prisons participate in humanizing programs that cause the personality to lose its individualization they begin to develop a lethargy and react like Tom at times. The silent system marching in line means mass treatment and these other types of dehumanizing programs. Contribute to the
repeating of further crime rather than correcting it. The practicalities of operating an institution make it difficult for a prison administrator to implement any philosophy. Underpaid personnel and incompetent people with neither the training nor the temperament to work with offenders can seriously handicap any administrator who attempts to implement a treatment philosophy based on mental health and correctional principles. The fact that 3 percent of all inmates die in prison makes necessary the treatment approach. For this means that 97 per cent released to live again as our neighbors. This has been a prison document a series of programs on the adult male in the state penitentiary. In this program we have examined the mechanics of life in
Prison document
Life in custody
Producing Organization
Florida State University
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-ns0kxv2w).
Episode Description
This program considers the mechanics of day-to-day life in custody and notes the subtle distortion such activity takes on when related to punishment for crime.
Series Description
A documentary series that examines prisons and their purposes.
Broadcast Date
Social Issues
Law Enforcement and Crime
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Engineer: Stone, Thomas
Engineer: Ragsdale, Bill
Narrator: Fleming, William
Producing Organization: Florida State University
Writer: Flynn, Roy
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-11-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:04
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Prison document; Life in custody,” 1958-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2022,
MLA: “Prison document; Life in custody.” 1958-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2022. <>.
APA: Prison document; Life in custody. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from