Preparing Convicts for Law-Abiding Lives

The Pioneering Penology of Richard A. McGee

By Daniel Glaser

Subjects: Corrections
Series: SUNY series in New Directions in Crime and Justice Studies
Paperback : 9780791426968, 236 pages, November 1995
Hardcover : 9780791426951, 236 pages, November 1995

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Figures and Photographs


1. Traditional Government Reactions to Criminals

The Evolution of Penalties Before 1944
Political Favoritism and Corruption
California's Pre-1944 Correction History

2. The Career of Richard A. McGee: An Overview

3. McGee's Initiatives in California Prisons

Staffing Prisons
Inmate Employment and Training
Inmate Schooling
Prison Architecture
Coping with Criminogenic Chemical Addictions


Alcoholism and Drunkenness
Addictions to Other Psychoactive Drugs


Increasing and Improving Visits to Inmates
Expanding Inmate Counseling Programs


Group Counseling
Individual Counseling


Managing Mentally Ill Offenders
Summary and Conclusion

4. McGee's Initiatives in California Community Corrections

Increasing Both Aid and Control for Parolees
The Community Treatment Project
Some Other Parole Innovations


Controlled Experiments in Parole Supervision
Work-Unit Studies
Other Parole-Supervision Research


Halfway Houses and Community Centers
Probation Subsidy
Summary and Conclusion

5. Evaluation Research as Correctional Auditing

Lay Initiation of Post-World War II Correctional Research
McGee on Research
The Delusion That "Nothing Works"
Deficiencies of Research on Promoting Jobs for Ex-prisoners


Vocational Training in Prison
Unemployment Compensation for Newly-released Offenders


Summary and Conclusion


The Need to Routinize Evaluation Research


6. Coordinating Total Criminal Justice Systems

Starting with Jails: An Optimum Division of Criminal Justice Labor
Probation--A Public Function in Trouble
Improving Penalty Determination
Capital Punishment as Seen by a Prison Administrator
Summary and Conclusion

7. McGee's Forecasts, and the Future of Corrections

Reduced Confinement
Increased Preparation of Prisoners for Post-release Life
Small Size and Urban Locations for Correctional Institutions
Blurring of Distinctions Between Institutional and Community Corrections
Replacement of Parole Boards by More Professional Release Tribunals
Consolidation of Community-based Correctional Programs
More Computerized Criminal Justice Information Systems
Increased Guidance by Empirical Research
The "New Corrections" as Less Elusive for Offenders and More Protective of the Public
Changes that McGee Failed to Foresee





This analysis of corrections' pioneer Richard A. McGee draws upon his many lucid writings, on comments by those who worked closely with him, and on interviews with McGee himself and others. This book interprets his efforts, accomplishments, and limitations in their historical context, yet relates them all to current possibilities and problems in crime control.

In 23 years of directing California corrections, and in his national leadership that included 16 active years following retirement, McGee promoted both reformation and control of convicts. His efforts helped make staffing prisons a non-political career service, improved inmate academic and vocational education, divided large prisons into quite autonomous smaller units, expanded treatment for drug addicts, fostered prisoner contacts with their families, and encouraged new types of counseling. He also developed more intensive supervision and assistance for both parolees and probationers. And, perhaps most importantly, he created a golden age for rigorous evaluation research in corrections, including assessment of practices by controlled experiments. He brilliantly gained both bipartisan support for these innovations and for changes in criminal laws.

Daniel Glaser, Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California, is Past President of the American Society of Criminology, of the Illinois Academy of Criminology, and of California's Association for Criminal Justice Research.


"This work provides an interesting historical perspective on some of the most recurring and controversial issues in corrections (i. e. drug and alcohol treatment, conjugal visits, recidivism, and rehabilitation). Glaser develops these with current comparisons that allow the reader to appreciate not only the way things have changed, but the way things remain the same. Throughout these discussions, the author adds interesting comments on the personal side of McGee. This is perhaps what makes the work so enjoyable to read. "—Marilyn D. McShane, California State University