Taiwanese Delegation Gets Inside Look at Texas Prisons

The College of Criminal Justice recently hosted a delegation of correctional experts and scholars from Taiwan who wanted to learn more about management practices and innovative programs at Texas state prisons.

The delegation was led by Dr. Yung-Lien (Edward) Lai, a 2011 CJ Ph.D. graduate from Sam Houston State University, who now serves as an Associate Professor at Central Police University in Taiwan. About 10 years ago, the country adopted two new laws, a three-strikes rule and stricter penalties for violent and sexual offenders, which significantly increased the prison population. To address those changes, the group came to the U.S. to study the Texas system, including programs for elderly, violent and ill inmates, treatment and rehabilitation, misconduct management, and parole operations.

“The U.S. prison systems have built up a high security classification system which classifies prisons in five security levels and have helped correctional officers to manage and secure inmates in a safer and efficient way,” said Dr. Lai. “Specifically, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) was made famous by its “Control Model,” which has been publicized by DiIulio’s (1987) in ‘Governing Prisons.’” Therefore, as a role model leading correctional systems in the U.S., our Taiwanese correctional delegation would like to seek your kind consideration assisting in a visiting study program.”

The group met with Correctional Management Institute of Texas and the College of Criminal Justice for an overview of corrections in the U.S. Among the issues the delegation hoped to address were:

  • Security inside and outside the prison system
  • Management of housing, including evaluations, types, inmate assignment, and security
  • Correctional officer duties and assignment based on gender
  • Use of lethal and non-lethal weapons
  • Application of technology for inmate management
  • Special needs for elderly and ill inmates
  • Services, education, and vocational training for inmates
  • Reentry programs for offenders who are preparing for release from prison

The group also toured TDCJ facilities to get a firsthand look at programs in actions, including treatment programs, labor initiatives, and behavioral evaluation at the Wynne Unit; elder areas, medical facility and super max operations at the Estelle Unit; and transfer operations as well as cells and dormitories at the Holiday Unit. They also met with staff from TDCJ to discuss security operations and staff training.

The visit is part of the College of Criminal Justice’s Office of International Initiatives, which coordinates activities among faculty, staff and students of the George J. Beto Criminal Justice Center. Among the most recent programs are offering a dual degree program with Zhejiang Police College in China, organizing the Asian Association of Police Studies annual conference, initiating a joint research project with Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland, and hosting delegations from Poland, Taiwan and the Czech Republic.

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