Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

Penology, the Study of Prison Management

Penology is the study of prison management and criminal rehabilitation. As a part of the social science of criminology, penology addresses the theory and practice of societies and how they attempt to prevent criminal activity and apply the appropriate punishment for it. It deals with the treatment of those who are convicted of crimes and how they can be rehabilitated so that they are no longer a threat to society. This study addresses many different topics concerning the prison system, such as prisoner’s rights, prisoner abuse, and recidivism, as well as theories about the purpose of punishments, such as rehabilitation, retribution, and deterrence. Those who study penology typically become what is called a penologist. A penologist is someone who works directly with inmates within the prison system. The job involves working with prison architecture, the treatment of offenders, inmate self-help programs, and prison and jail management.

Penologists work hard to improve situations within the prison community. They evaluate prison systems and make suggestions about changes that need to be made regarding prison policy. Penologists evaluate prison systems by regularly observing the interactions between prisoners as well as those they have with authority figures. They interview prisoners to evaluate if current prison programs, methods, and rules, are successful in changing their behavior. They also conduct follow-up interviews with released prisoners to see if the rehabilitation programs they experienced while in prison are helping them function in the outside world. Along with inmates, they work closely with prison guards, wardens, criminologists, and parole and probation officers. A penologist makes the jobs of prison professionals much easier by making efforts to reduce the anti-social behavior of inmates and making recommendations on how their roles can be improved.

Penologists need to be patient, have a high degree of perseverance, and demonstrate calmness under stress and pressure. Those who want to pursue a career in the field should earn a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, justice administration, or psychology. These areas of study are beneficial because they will help students develop a strong educational foundation that will give them the knowledge and skills they will need to work in the prison system. Courses should be taken that address criminal law, the justice system, prison systems, and inmate behavior. It is also important that anyone who desires to work as a penologist knows about and understands issues that the correctional system faces today, such as overcrowding, budgets, the death penalty, and crimes that occur in prison.

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