A study of the dual administration of a penal education program : the case of Lee College and the Texas Department of Corrections



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The purpose of this study was to investigate certain variables related to the harmonious administration of a public program by two separate and independent governmental agencies, namely the dual administration of a junior college prison education program by Lee College of Baytown, Texas and the Texas Department of Corrections. Within the context of dual administration five areas were treated: participation, reorganization, communication, social equity, and inter-agency relations. Answers were sought to the following questions: Can a junior college educate inmate students adequately within the confines of a prison? Is dual administration an alternative to the unilateral administration of a prison education program? Is a dually administered prison education program workable, given the varying perceptions and attitudes of the participants? Can participation in decision-making by various people contribute to the quality of the program? Does participation affect the morale of participants? Do participants think other participants should be excluded from some facets of decision-making? Has there been noticeable reorganization of the program? Has reorganization been recognized as necessary by the participants? Do participants of one agency view reorganization more or less favorably than participants of the other agency? What are some of the major complaints relating to communication? Does duality of administration in itself cause communication problems, and if so, are they serious enough to warrant unilateral administration of the program? If participants view social equity goals differently, will these differences be injurious to the program? Is "institutionalization" a threat to the program? Should the agencies attempt equalpartnership in the administration of the program? Are there enough serious disputes between the agencies to endanger the program? Should one agency be dominant over the other in certain areas of activity? It was believed that if these questions could be answered, such knowledge would enhance the Lee College-Texas Department of Corrections program specifically and contribute to the knowledge of dual administration generally. The subjects used in this study were students enrolled in the Lee College prison education program during the spring of 1974, Lee College faculty members teaching in the program that semester, Lee College administrators and Texas Department of Corrections administrators. These participants were asked to respond to questions on questionnaires and in personal interviews. The information from these questions was deemed necessary in attempting to answer the above proposed questions. The data gave rise to the following conclusions: (1) All participants tended to believe that the program is a success; (2) Participants tended to view facets of the program differently; (3) There was little relevance between degree of participation in decision-making and perceptions of effectiveness of the program; (4) All groups except the student group rejected the idea that their greater participation in decision-making would improve the program; (5) There was a tendency for certain groups to reject participation in decision-making by other groups; (6) Only the faculty perceived reorganization and change to any great degree; (7) Faculty members favored student participation in reorganization much more favorably than did Texas Department of Corrections administrators; (8) Administrators from both agencies recognized far fewercommunication problems caused by dual administration than did the students or faculty; (9) Students and faculty viewed Lee College as the best communicator of information, while both administrative groups generally saw both agencies doing equally well in this regard; (10) There was rather wide disagreement between faculty and prison administrators over the role of the faculty as humanitarians versus objective technicians, although there was no great disagreement among the groups as to the role of TDC personnel in this regard; (11) There was no significant difference in the manner in which Lee College teachers and administrators viewed social equity goals; (12) Only the prison administrators supported the notion that the two agencies are equal partners in the program; (13) Some inter-agency usurpation of functions was observed by sizable percentages of all groups except the prison administrators; (14) Generally, all groups except the students agreed on specific areas of activity in which one agency should be dominant over the other. The following recommendations were made: (1) More faculty and student input into decision-making should be accomplished for morale purposes; (2) Continual study should be made to suggest any needed reorganization and change; (3) Communication lines should be simplified as much as possible; (4) The prison system should work toward improving the rapport between prison personnel and the inmates; (3) The prison should make sure that concern for security does not hinder the educational process; (6) Both agencies should guard against the institutionalization of teachers; (7) Treatment should not be relegated to second class status; (8) Both agencies should promote an employee attitude of helpfulness toward the inmates; (9) Rapport between the two agenciesshould be maintained and improved; (10) Lee College should make the principle educational decisions; (11) Faculty should observe security rules; (12) Specified jurisdiction should be established between the two agencies; (13) Standardized rules should be established; (14) The prison administration should give adequate explanations for banishment of teachers from units; (15) Students should be allowed to spend more time in the libraries and to take more classes; (16) The recreational function should be taken away from the Educational Consultants; (17) Employees of both agencies should be required to take psychology and sociology courses; (18) A follow-up method should be devised to determine the fate of students who are released from prison.