C-Unit

C-Unit: Search for Community in Prison

ELLIOT STUDT
SHELDON L. MESSINGER
THOMAS P. WILSON
Copyright Date: 1968
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 380
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7758/9781610444989
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  • Book Info
    C-Unit
    Book Description:

    One of the most detailed reports ever made on an effort to establish a therapeutic community within a California prison. This work describes how the program was launched, gives a number of examples of its operation, and outlines the new problems and prospects created for inmates, staff, and the broader prison administration by this attempt to redefine the roles within the prison.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-498-9
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. FOREWORD
    (pp. vii-x)
    PHILIP SELZNICK

    C-Unit is an account of one small effort to refresh and affirm the human spirit. In the unquiet recesses of a California prison, there was enacted a drama of faith and frustration that is only partly obscured by the apparatus of social research and by the painstaking quest for theoretical understanding.

    Dr. Elliot Studt brought to the C-Unit Project a long experience in dealing with offenders. She and her collaborators tried to put into practice, and to study at the same time, a distinctive philosophy of corrections. It is no derogation of their achievement to say that what was done...

  3. PREFACE
    (pp. xi-xii)
    WALTER DUNBAR
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
    E S, S L M and T P W
  5. Table of Contents
    (pp. xvii-2)
  6. I PERSPECTIVES
    (pp. 3-23)

    The modern prison is asked to perform three tasks: (1) to make explicit in action that the community will not tolerate certain destructive behaviors; (2) to protect the community, for at least temporary periods of time, through the segregation of those persons whose acts have shown that they can be socially dangerous; and (3) to prepare such persons to be responsible members of the community when they are released from prison. The C-Unit Project selected the third task for special attention. It sought to discover how the current resources of the prison might be used to better advantage in preparing...

  7. II LAUNCHING THE PROGRAM
    (pp. 24-60)

    Deuel vocational institution, the site of the C-Unit Project, stands on a 760-acre plot of flat land at the northern end of the fertile San Joaquin Valley, near the town of Tracy, California, about 60 miles east of San Francisco. Surrounded by fruit orchards, truck and dairy farms, and grazing lands, “DVI” is bounded in the distance on the west by the low rim of the Coast Range and on the east by the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. In the summer, the land of the broad flat valley to the south disappears into the blaze and glare of hot,...

  8. III PROGRAM FOR PROBLEM-SOLVING
    (pp. 61-89)

    The project’s first task was to get prison inmates to experience legitimate problem-solving as rewarding in and of itself. This could not be accomplished by telling them about the satisfactions they were missing, by instructing them in the process, or by providing material rewards for behaving in the desired fashion.¹ Only a problem felt strongly enough to motivate action; a process for successful problem resolution; and the actually experienced rewards of pride in self, safety with others, accomplishment and fellowship, would be sufficient to establish effective community values to govern action in prison.

    The Project’s beginning program consisted of arrangements...

  9. IV CONTROL BY COMMUNITY
    (pp. 90-124)

    Like all other organizations, every prison develops means for creating and maintaining order among its participants. Such means include incentives intended to promote conformance to normative regulations, devices for detecting and coping with incipient disorder, and sanctions to deal with deviance. Together, these incentives, devices, and sanctions, and the social arrangements that embody them, may be called a “system of social control.” Such a system serves to elucidate, communicate, and enforce institutional norms of order to those who are to be guided by them, including both staff and inmates.

    Prison administrators necessarily give special attention to those aspects of the...

  10. V THE SPLIT COMMUNITY
    (pp. 125-137)

    During C-Unit’s second year the organizational themes elaborated in the two preceding chapters continued to develop side by side, although the dissonance between C-Unit’s system of social control and its institutions for welfare and communication became increasingly apparent. The consequences for community were unfortunate.

    Once the honor system and its related control mechanisms ceased to be a subject for staff and inmate discussion, the program in C-Unit focused on exploiting the potentialities for social activity made possible by the devices created during the first twelve months of the Project’s experience rather than on continued reform of community institutions.

    Two avenues...

  11. VI THE STAFF WORK GROUP
    (pp. 138-164)

    The project charged the official segment of C-Unit’s membership, the staff, with responsibility for building community. In this chapter and the next we shall follow the work of two staffs, each operating in one of the two program years, as they attempted to translate this charge into action under quite different conditions. Examination of their disparate experiences should help us understand the critical role of official personnel in the inmate-staff community, the problems they are likely to encounter, and the conditions that seem most favorable for effective work.

    We should first make explicit the expectations built into the charge to...

  12. VII RETURN TO BUREAUCRACY
    (pp. 165-191)

    Important changes in the work patterns of the Project staff were precipitated by changes in administrative and counselor personnel beginning in August, 1961, and continuing until April, 1962. In August, a new supervisor replaced the lieutenant who had acted as interim supervisor since January, 1961.¹ In September and November, two counselor positions were vacated and replacements were not secured until January and April of 1962. A new administrative position was created and in November, 1961, a lieutenant was appointed as assistant supervisor. Two secretaries among the group of four who had participated in the staff training sessions left during the...

  13. VIII THE INMATE SYSTEM
    (pp. 192-228)

    The project saw relationships among offenders in prison as one of the most powerful socializing forces to which the inmates are exposed. Traditionally the influence of prison inmates on each other has been characterized as almost uniformly antiofficial, so much so as to constitute an active barrier to staff efforts to communicate positively with prisoners.¹ Since the Project wished to mobilize all socializing influences available in the institution in support of resocializing goals, one of its chief management tasks involved encouraging inmates to relate to each other outside the official program in ways that supported what the staff were trying...

  14. IX INDIVIDUAL CAREERS IN C-UNIT
    (pp. 229-272)

    In this chapter we turn our attention to the individual inmate, and how the combined resources of the community could be channeled to meet his unique needs and capacities. We wish to make two points: (1) An additional action group, not yet described, was needed to engage the individual in the experiences appropriate for his resocialization. (2) The community itself contributed to the treatment of the individual offender by providing the conditions for resocializing action by the individual.

    The action group held responsible by the Project for individualizing treatment was potentially composed of all those persons—officials, peers, family members,...

  15. X RETROSPECT
    (pp. 273-288)

    In this chapter we ask the reader to consider with us what was learned in the C-Unit experience about the resocialization process and about the kind of organization needed to accomplish resocializing goals.

    An important outcome of the C-Unit experience was the transformation of intuitive perceptions about what offenders need into a provisional model for the resocializing process. Although we could not evaluate what happened in the lives of C-Unit men in terms of behavior on parole, we did see inmate behavior in the institution change in the desired direction under certain conditions and regress under contrary conditions. From the...

  16. APPENDIX A: SELECTION FOR C-UNIT
    (pp. 291-294)
  17. APPENDIX B: SURVEY DESIGN AND ADMINISTRATION
    (pp. 295-297)
  18. APPENDIX C: PROBLEM-SOLVING ADAPTATIONS: Index Construction and Additional Findings
    (pp. 298-314)
  19. APPENDIX D: BACKGROUND CHARACTERISTICS AND TYPES OF ADAPTATION
    (pp. 315-318)
  20. APPENDIX E: INMATE SYSTEM SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE
    (pp. 319-344)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 345-354)