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Lawful Order: A Case Study of Correctional Crisis and Reform

NCJ Number
L Carroll
Date Published
368 pages
This study assesses the impact on Rhode Island's prisons of Palmigiano v. Garrahy (1977), in which the Federal District Court for Rhode Island found that the conditions in Rhode Island's prisons "do not provide a tolerable living environment."
The first two chapters address events prior to the "Palmigiano" decision. The second chapter begins with the formal adoption of the rehabilitative ideal in Rhode Island in 1956. The chapter concludes with an examination of the first major court intervention and its immediate aftermath. Chapter 3 looks at the responses of the various groups within the prison system to the turmoil triggered by the foregoing events. It traces the emergence of unions among both the prisoners and the officers, the creation of a centralized department of corrections, and how factors within and outside the prison system influenced the power struggle among the three groups. The next four chapters address the intervention occasioned by "Palmigiano." Chapter 4 details the trial, the order, and the reaction of State officials to it. It documents the role of the court in restoring order to the troubled institution by bringing professional correctional leadership to the department and supporting that leadership as it struggled to reduce disorder and tension. Chapter 5 turns to the implementation of the decree between 1977 and 1985. Although implementation was problematic for a variety of reasons documented in this study, by 1985 the department was in substantial compliance with much of the order and had itself undergone significant change. Chapter 6 analyzes the threat posed to these gains by the rapidly increasing population of inmates occasioned by the war on drugs. Chapter 7 charts the emergence and development of a highly rational and decentralized corporate management structure in the wake of the crisis. It concludes with a discussion of the dismissal of the "Palmigiano" case and the termination of court jurisdiction. Chapter notes, tables, and a subject index