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Why not send some promising Indiana inmates to work or school outside? "Their victims would disagree," says Warden Russell Lash, a former FBI agent. Lash, only 29, is a good man hampered by his budget and the voters' fears. His first duty, he says, is "custody."
CALIFORNIA. Though it leads all states in systematic penology, California has the nation's highest crime rate. Critics also claim that the system is characterized by a kind of penal paternalism that becomes psychological torment. In a much touted reform, California judges give indeterminate sentences; corrections officials then determine each offender's fate according to his presumably well-tested behavior. Thus 66% of all convicted offenders get probation, 6% work in 20-man forestry crews, and only 13.5% of felons go to prison. Despite rising crime, California's prison population (26,500) has actually dropped by 2,000 in the past two years.
All this saves millions in unneeded prison construction. But it fills prisons with a higher ratio of hard-core inmates who disrupt the rest. And because of indeterminate sentences, California "corrects" offenders longer than any other state by a seemingly endless process (median prison stay: 36 months) that stirs anger against the not always skilled correctors. Says one San Quentin official: "It's like going to school, and never knowing when you'll graduate."
Something is not quite right even at the state's cushiest "correctional facilities" (bureaucratese for prisons), some of which could pass for prep schools. At no-walls Tehachapi, near Bakersfield, inmates can keep pianos in their unbarred rooms, get weekend passes and join their wives at "motels" on the lush green premises. Yet Tehachapi is full of repeaters, prison-dependent men who soon violate their paroles and return.
These days, California's black prisoners are rebelling at places like Soledad, a seeming garden spot in the Salinas Valley that looks like a university campus. Soledad's 960 acres throb with activity: tennis, basketball, weight lifting, a dairy, a hog farm. Inmates earn up to $24 a month turning out toilet paper and handsome furniture for the judges and prosecutors who got them the jobs. But for 180 rebels confined in Soledad's "X" and "O" wings, there is no play or work. Because they scorn prison rules, they are locked up tighter than lions in a zoo.
Many are blacks who see themselves as political victims, others whites who hate the blacks. Racial tension is so bad that some prisoners wear thick magazines strapped to their backs to ward off knife blades. In January 1969, the prisoners were allowed to exercise together in a small yard. Before long, a guard shot and killed three blacks. According to the guard's testimony before a Monterey County grand jury, the blacks were beating a white inmate. The guard said that he fired a warning shot, then killed the