Dr. Curtis Blakely, an assistant professor in the department of political science and criminal justice, has recently published his second book, Prisons, Penology and Penal Reform: An Introduction to Institutional Specialization.
Blakely advocates stronger relationships between public and private prisons. Currently, the private sector houses 10 percent of the total inmate population. Under his proposal, it would assume a more prominent role – perhaps housing half of all institutionalized offenders. He also advocates the specialization of the contemporary prison, with each facility housing a particular kind of inmate. For example, some prisons would house inmates who refuse therapeutic intervention, whereas others would provide treatment to those desiring personal reform. By ensuring that these two groups never mix, the malleable inmate would be protected from the corrupting influence of those inmates who may inhibit the treatment process.
Since the private sector currently houses many minor and first-time offenders, it could expand operations and aggressively treat those inmates who can benefit from rehabilitation. Likewise, the public sector would continue to retain those inmates who are especially dangerous and intractable. Blakely believes that if his proposal were fully implemented, recidivism rates and treatment costs would decrease, and the public’s long-term safety would increase.
Blakely’s theory has been described by Dr. Vic Bumphus, a professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, as being “one of the most creative proposals to impact the field of penology in a century.”