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Psychology prof testifies before national prisons commission

Craig Haney, professor of psychology and an expert on incarceration, testified before the National Commission on Safety and Abuse in America's Prisons earlier this month.

photo of Craig Haney

Craig Haney

Haney participated in a panel that addressed crowded prison facilities, discussing the research on social density and the links between crowding and what Haney calls "institutional pathology." He discussed the interconnectedness of crowding, understaffing, underdeveloped leadership, and underresourced facilities, and explained how crowding contributes to the creation of institutions where violence and abuse are likely and/or tolerated.

Haney provided a 10-minute opening statement and fielded questions from commissioners and other expert witnesses during the 90-minute session. He also submitted a written statement in advance of his testimony. Haney appeared with Vincent Nathan, an attorney and consultant, and Richard Stalder, the secretary of Louisiana's Department of Public Safety and Corrections and president of the Association of State Correctional Administrators.

Other panels focused on the size and demographics of the prison population, personal accounts of crowding and isolation, and physical and mental health care in prisons.

The two-day hearing took place July 19-20 in Newark, New Jersey.

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