Correction systems play a crucial role in preserving the stability and security of individuals in society by ensuring that lawbreakers understand their wrongdoing and deter further crimes. At the same time, prisons significantly impact the people within them, including inmates and employees. Both of those groups are at high risk of suffering psychological and physiological damage from the prison environment. It is crucial to discuss the responsibilities of the correction systems for inmates and the application of morality and organizational psychology principles in the prison environment to alleviate such injuries. Correction systems are responsible for treating inmates equally and humanely while incorporating moral values and care ethics into the corporate culture.
Responsibilities of the Correction System for Inmates
Correction systems should understand and always remember that the purpose of prison is not to punish inmates believing that the latter is inherently immoral and evil human beings. The environment and experience inmates experience in the penitentiary significantly shape these people’s lives even after they are released (Bierrie & Mann, 2017). Namely, physical violence, bullying, humiliation, and dehumanization can damage inmates’ mental health to the extent that they will suffer from these damages for the rest of their lives.
However, the “go by the book” practice and hierarchical structure of the correctional institutions often diffuse guards’ responsibility, justifying the mass atrocities committed by the latter towards prisoners (Weill & Haney, 2017). Therefore, correction systems, including guards, officers, and administration, possess a huge responsibility to care for inmates most humanely and legitimately.
Specifically, correctional systems have a responsibility not to impose a violent, traumatic experience on inmates. The correction system, including prison staff, should treat inmates with respect and proportionality. In other words, staff should not dehumanize inmates in any way and not allow other inmates to humiliate each other. Although the punishment is an inevitable part of the correction systems, the penalty should be proportionate to the crime committed. The inmate detained for stealing should not be punished to the same extent as an inmate who committed a murder. Indeed, proportionality is one of the core principles of the criminal justice system.
In addition, correction systems have the responsibility to provide for the basic needs of detainees. These basic needs include food, clean water, a proper sewage system, fresh air, clothes, and even employment. The fundamental principle to guide these responsibilities is the recognition and understanding of the fact that the purpose of correctional systems is not to punish inmates per se (Weill & Haney, 2017). Instead, the goal is to create an environment where they will understand their mistakes and rehabilitate themselves.
Morality and Ethics
Morality and ethics have the potential to change the way how correction institutions currently operate fundamentally. However, it is often assumed that ethics and care are inherently counterintuitive to the idea of punishment (Coverdale, 2020). Analyzing prisons from a care ethics perspective will enable policymakers, researchers, and communities to reconsider the structural failings of the current correctional systems (Coverdale, 2020).
Specifically, care ethics’ primary assumption is an equal treatment to inmates (Coverdale, 2020). In other words, applying care ethics would mean that inmates should be provided with fundamental liberties and rights as any other human being. In practical terms, this means satisfying inmates’ basic needs by providing access to healthcare, education, voting rights, religious practice, drug treatment, and mental health therapy sessions. For instance, one of the significant reasons why Danish and Norwegian criminal justice systems are most effective is because they practice care ethics (Coverdale, 2020). Thus, internalizing the equal treatment of inmates into the correction officers through the prism of morality and ethics can significantly improve the quality of penal institutions.
Principles of Organization Psychology
As mentioned before, prison staff have a significant agency when it comes to the treatment of inmates. A famous Stanford Prison Experiment has proven that those in power can adapt to the social expectation of violence and abuse their authority (Haney et al., 1973). The most egregious instances of prisoner abuse indicate the importance of analyzing the social and psychological factors that drive correctional officers and administrations (Weill & Haney, 2017). Hence, organizations must implement principles of industrial-organizational psychology to better support and encourage prison staff’s ethical standards.
One principle that organizations can implement is to adopt fair and equal treatment towards employees themselves. The findings by López-Cabarcos et al. (2016) prove that to achieve employee’s affective commitment, managers should restrain from bullying workers themselves. Moreover, officers who address the emotional needs of inmates are often accused of “fraternization” and sanctioned (Smith & Loomis, 2013 as cited in Weill & Haney, 2017).
Hence, organizations should cancel the stigma imposed on those who provide care for inmates and instead encourage such behavior. These implementations are unlikely to contradict public sentiment since the research reveals that the vast majority of the public supports the rehabilitative purpose of penal institutions and more humanitarian treatment towards inmates (Thielo et al., 2015). Therefore, organizations can implement organizational psychology principles, including leadership and corporate culture supportive of care for inmates is likely to improve employees’ ethical standards towards convicts.
To conclude, penal institutions are responsible for treating convicts in the most humane and equal way by incorporating care ethics into the organizational culture. Specifically, correction systems should remember that the ultimate purpose of prisons is not to punish inmates as inherently evil humans but assist them in rehabilitating and integrating into society. Organizational psychology principles such as leadership and emotionally intelligent corporate culture are likely to improve the ethical standards of correctional officers without entailing negative public sentiment.
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Haney, C., Banks, C., & Zimbardo, P. (1973). Interpersonal dynamics in a simulated prison. International Journal of Criminology and Penology, 1, 69–97.
López-Cabarcos, M. Á., Vázquez-Rodríguez, P., & Piñeiro-Chousa, J. R. (2016). Combined antecedents of prison employees’ affective commitment using fsQCA. Journal of Business Research, 69(11), 5534–5539. Web.
Thielo, A. J., Cullen, F. T., Cohen, D. M., & Chouhy, C. (2015). Rehabilitation in a Red State. Criminology & Public Policy, 15(1), 137–170. Web.
Weill, J., & Haney, C. (2017). Mechanisms of moral disengagement and prisoner abuse. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 17(1), 286–318. Web.