To attain a fuller understanding of the ramifications of correctional policies crafted by lawmakers and prison officials, it is critical that the perspectives of the people that are incarcerated and work in prisons are afforded serious consideration. This is why allowing people who live and work behind prison walls a chance to voice their concerns and propose constructive solutions to the vexing problems inherent in a correctional setting has always been a core component of JHA's approach to citizen monitoring.
In 2016, JHA began using surveys in order to reach a greater number people during our monitoring visits, thereby giving voice to hundreds more people per visit than we were able to do in the past. The surveys have enhanced, not replaced, our traditional narrative and observation based approach to prison monitoring. JHA continues to heed the stories of the incarcerated and prison staff, as this is a cornerstone of our work. The surveys, however, enable us to convey the prevailing attitudes and opinions of a sizable portion of these groups. When contextualized by JHA’s research and data provided by prison officials, the collective and individual narratives of the incarcerated and prison staff provide JHA with a unique tool which we use to objectively evaluate the effectiveness and fairness of our criminal justice system, and establish a sound foundation upon which proposals for reforms can be built.
Our first pilot report reflects JHA’s findings based on the results of surveys distributed at Logan Correctional Center (Logan) to inmates and staff during a JHA monitoring visit conducted in June of 2016. While the findings contained herein are informative, it should be noted that this report is based upon a pilot of JHA’s survey instrument administered at one prison. Subsequent JHA survey reports will be based upon refined versions of the survey instruments used at Logan, adjusted to resolve minor issues that came to JHA’s attention during the initial use and processing of the surveys. Because the field of corrections is dynamic, JHA expects that the methodology surrounding the use of the surveys will likely change to be in accord with the field being evaluated. We anticipate new survey instruments and methods of processing and analysis will be implemented over time so that our survey tools remain accurate, relevant and impactful. As JHA implements the facility survey project beyond the pilot phase, we anticipate that future reports will include larger data sets obtained by visiting numerous prisons, thereby enabling more robust statistical analyses and findings.