When Politics Trumps Policy

For 2 years, you have been director of a prison system for adults in a medium-sized state. As a result of revenue shortfalls for several years, it has been a constant struggle to keep a full labor force in your state’s 10 prisons and to lure professional staff members to work and live in the more rural areas where they are located. During the past 6 months, however, you have managed to assemble a fine staff of wardens and other subordinates in the prisons and have implemented a number of policies that provide for educational, vocational, and treatment opportunities, which have been gaining national attention for their effectiveness. Recidivism has been reduced to 30 percent, and your policies are beginning to be accepted by staff and citizens alike. Running a “Take Back the Streets” anticrime campaign, a politically inexperienced person (formerly a popular college quarterback playing at a state university) was recently elected governor. The new governor has just sent you a letter stating in effect that your institution is not the “Ritz” and demanding that all “frivolous, namby-pamby programs teaching the ABCs and where cons learn how to hammer nails” cease immediately. He asks for your written response, a plan for tightening security, and the implementation of tougher inmate programs within 1 month.

1.How would you respond? Would you just capitulate and end some or all of these programs? Explain your answer.