State Correctional Policy Survey: What State Correctional Departments Say They Do

Author/Creator ORCID





Citation of Original Publication

Lynch, M. J., & Richards, T. N. (2011). State Correctional Policy Survey: What State Correctional Departments Say They Do. Journal of Crime and Justice, 34(2), 139-158.



Contemporary discussions of correctional systems have been based on an assumption concerning the goals of those systems. These assumptions, which have been drawn from philosophical perspectives and unstructured observations of correctional practices, suggest that correctional practices follow specific policy goals such as protecting the public. Actual state correctional policies related to correctional goals have not, surprisingly, been assessed to ascertain the validity of these theoretical assumptions about correctional policy. This research investigates correctional goals’ alignment with accepted penal philosophies by examining the mission statements of each US department of corrections. Using qualitative content analysis key words and phrases were extracted from each mission statement (N 1⁄4 50) and categorized to provide a count of correctional goals and an examination of patterns across state correctional systems and across various missions. Results indicate 16 different correctional goals identified by states’ departments of corrections. Not surprisingly, the most frequently cited correctional goals include: protecting the public, providing the secure confinement of offenders, and offering opportunities for rehabilitation. Findings further describe missions that are the least cited by states as well as clusters of missions that frequently co- occur. Implications and opportunities for future research are also discussed.