A Clockwork Orange - Or Just A Lemon? Author(s): Peter Steinfels Source: The Hastings Center Report, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Apr.

, 1974), pp. 10-12 Published by: The Hastings Center Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3560335 Accessed: 08/05/2010 19:23
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the chances are good that it will. To my mind. ostensibly for economic reasons. a federally funded program for particularly unmanageable prisoners. both physical and psychological. Called to testify were Norman A. even where risks of his safety are still apparent. One recent article in a large circulation magazine warned that "psychotechnologies are under rapid development by 'behavioral engineers' intent on putting Big Brother in constant and efficient charge of up to 25 million Americans who have either committed crimes or seem 'likely' to do so. Shortly thereafter the House Subcommittee on Courts. a final test for this couple is whether or not they can give the prospective hemophilic child an assurance of independent existence. North Carolina. A number of programs around the U. To refuse. Carlson." And later the same writer describes these villainous "behavioral engineers" as "the technologists of a totalitarianism that could make those in Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange and George Orwell's 1984 look whimsically inefficient by comparison. The truly difficult question is if the Masons could morally proceed with a pregnancy where there was a chance of having a hemophilic child. they could adopt a child. wishing to avoid the anxiety. 5) her recognition that such a child may himself have deep psychological problems from overprotection afforded by well-meaning others. (Patuxent calls its inmates "patients". they progress ehavior control in prisons does not enjoy a very favorable press. I know I would. a Maryland state prison organized around a combination of behaviorist theory and group therapy. Martin Groder. designated director of a new federal facility at Butner. costs and possible guilt of an "at-risk"pregnancy. especially if they consider abortion morally unacceptable. and could accept the risk of a "worst" outcome.S. I think the Masons could go ahead and have a child. though they refused to rule out the establishment of similar prison programs on a voluntary basis. Ethics and the Life Sciences. Institute Conference Some perspective on this controversy was provided by a conference sponsored last December by the Institute's Behavior Control Research Group. she should be able to justify her presumptive right to conceive a child where there was a substantial risk of having an infant who would require special and perhaps expensive care on a lifetime basis. Probably the most prominent was Project START (Special Treatment and Rehabilitative Training). were she to believe that the possible ambiguities of a carrier test would aggravate the psychological burden of the pregnancy. *? Y - - - % - A ClockworkOrangeOr Just B by PETER STEINFELS this program was to alter the conduct of especially troublesome inmates so that they could be returned to the open prison population from which the referral originated. 2) her psychological ability to nurture a child who will necessarily experience some suffering. If they cannot. Ruth Mason might justifiably even refuse the carrier test. Director of the Bureau of Prisons. Civil Liberties and the Administration of Justice opened hearings on the extent of behavior modification programs in federal prisons. Institute of Society. which is mandated to conduct research into new rehabilitation techniques (and which is also under court challenge). To do this." Are such charges justified? Or are they expressions of that old technological paranoia which once led a leading science popularizer in 19th-century France to predict that the railroad would feminize men and suffocate women? Popular journalism has not been the only arena for concern about behavior control in prisons. then perhaps they ought to consider those options which avoid his birth. 3) her family's resources-emotional. Based on operant conditioning principles. Indeed. Hastings Center Report 4/74 A. I think they could. the aim of Peter Steinfels is Associate for the Humanities. Whether the subcommittee will hold further hearings is not yet known. Or. psychological care for this and monetary-to child. I believe that Ruth Mason would need to examine some or all of the following factors: 1) her valuation of human life. j .Page 10 ments are weakened by the inherent uncertainty of future events. have recently been challenged by court actions. Recently the Federal Bureau of Prisons announced the discontinuation of START. Participants included representatives from START and the Butner research center. But assuming they have weighed all the factors. 4) the possibility that her own or her husband's expectations in having male children are incompatible with the life style dictated by hemophilia. They might well decide that sterilization is the only moral course open to them. J . as well as from Patuxent. and Dr.

then. involving levels of deprivation and conflict which led to precisely the kind of charges-above all. The window can be covered with paper blocking all light by the First. we deny him status as a human being. and that burden is to give him a chance to change.And those that are. if one is to judge both from the conference discussions and from other availableinformation.and various psychotherapeutic approaches-but also to exof amine the "total institution" prison as itself a behaviorcontrolling technology. It does mean that these problems may be closer to the traditional ones afflicting prison systems in general than entirely new issues "We take on a burden when we put a man behind walls. they can also work in the opposite direction. and to deny that is to diminish our own humanityand plant the seeds of future anguishfor ourselves.. -Chief JusticeWarren Burger tem." have been the catalystfor continual -Excerpt from a Report of the Subcommittee conflict or even large-scale eruptions in the institutions. This double emphasis was importantfor. were a numberof psychiatrists. the prison had a lower level of "hassling" and petty brutalitythan most other prisons they had visited. In one case an inmate alleged his window was could developmeansof "managing" covered for 42 straight days.then. of removing ultimate authority from the custodial and security personnel. the that minorityof prisonerswhose re[START] staff said it was for no longer than two weeks but that the belliousnessand political militancy records concerningthis could not be located at the time of our visit. In other words-"Clockwork Orange" it isn't. Thus. brutality-which prisonershave long made againsttheir keepers. To begin with.. "Behavior Control in Total Institutions"was the general subject of the meeting. Two Institute observers of Patuxent concluded that. ("You may not get the greatest therapists. If we deny him that. Behaviorcontrolinnovations may thus merely reinforce old problems. criminologists and lawyers with combined extensive experiencein prison work. was the object to examinethe use in prisons of specific behavior control technologies-like psycho- surgery.to an exceptionallyresistantgroup of prisoners who had definitely not volunteeredfor the program. Ethics and the Life Sciences J . the schemes parentsdevise for getting the Saturdaychores done.appearto be relativelycrude and of questionable effectiveness. at least in my interpretation. along with membersof the Institute ResearchGroup.") the Legitimating Prisons The real significanceof behavior controlprograms. may not be their uncertainimpact on a limited number of prisoners though abuseshave occurredand shouldbe constantly guarded against-but their influence in maintainingand legitimatingthe entire prison sysE. _ \N l-Institute of Society. Not only.they concluded.") Also attending the conference. prisons were the group's chosen focus. Project START involved a reward-punishment system that. could happenin three ways: ". and they are held indefinitely as "patients" pronounced till "cured.and the spite the obvious orientationof a Administration Justice of programlike START towardmanagement rather than genuine rebehaviorcontrolseems habilitation. This was an unintendedconsequence. they attendweeklytherapysessions. This. When asked about this allegation. if I interpret some of the conference participants correctly. the three days of discussions suggested that the new behavior control methods are of much less in significance themselvesthan they are as accessories for the maintenance and preservation the basic of behaviorcontrol device-incarceration in a total institution. deon Courts.there simply aren't that many behaviorcontrol programsin operationwithinprisons.So far. behaviorcontrol programs staff if it so desires." spawned by new technologies.but you certainlyget a highercaliberof guard.aversive and operant conditioning. This hardly means that behavior control programs in prisons pose no serious ethical and legal problems. far from being the devilishly clever models of scientificingeniousnesssometimesimaginedby critics. of limiting the prison's size and of hiring therapists at higher wages. Adit ministering in a prison setting. however._ _~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~- Page 11 Y f A Lemon? through graded tiers depending upon their behavior and attitude. inwas barelyfancierthan tellectually. Civil Liberties. was an entirely different matter. whatever the merits of the therapy which could be offered in such a setting (and they were pretty skeptical about it).

the Recognizing that prisons them. and "Hallucinogenic Drugs: Perils & Possibilities.Y. in the meanbut Ethics. enthusiasm. "Drugs and Competing Drug of the imprisoned.criminologist. F... Ethics institutions. wardens. out that quite rightly pointed has always played Controlled? Are the Controllers "whether we like it or not.50 passed. ". of the Hastings Center Studies. The latter trollers in prisons escape the beintation." by Louis of on reexamination our dependence Jolyon West. has been reprinted and can now be supplied in bulk. and scientistsand psychiatristsand Skinner.behaviorof prisonerswill continue a special role selves are behavior controlling to be modified by the world in means recogniz.efforts at B. and the result is whoever attempts to work within Attica. prison environment. Please make checks payable to the Institute of Society. 31 & up: $1.also not reassuring." the May. behavior control be guards. programs in prisons seem either the well-intentionedreformers of Second.. and even aging for precisely such practices. Nancy Taylor institutionhas alwaysplayed a spePublications Department cial role in legitimatingprison sysHastings Center 623 Warburton Avenue tems-regardless of whether the characteristicsof the model were Hastings-on-Hudson.1'01- - ^ York Times (2/26/74) la- K Hastings Center Report 4/74 .25 behavior control techThird. One or two good juvenile Y reformatoriesor adult prisons can 'Y New I 11." by Gerald L..." An historian at the and the Life Sciences. Despite the humanitarian strandof thoughtwas expressedby havior controlling influence of tentions of its advocates. "Physical Manipulation ticipant. is "a faint Two publications suitable for classroom discussions on behavior trumpet." by Robert M. 1973 Special Supplement of the Hastings propose any alternativeswith unCenter Report. main unaffected them-which is by guards:how will the behaviorconGenerallythe bloom is off rehabili.. deprivation." wrote prison systems. in the These articles. 1974 issue opinion of the more pessimistic.but of the prisonsthroughmanagement Skinner some day. N. Classroom Materials Available rehabilitationincluded. Skinner in a letter to The 0* prisons? rehabilitative programs have too often begun as alternativesto the but harsheraspectsof imprisonment ended as additionsto them. Veatch. The critics are unable to of the Brain. Contingencies "total institutions" in legitimating ing that they control the behavior of reinforcement alreadyoperatare not only of inmates but of guards ing in the present system. The tasks of security." Skinner is confident that environments can this context. But the current critique of prison systems. Klerman. "The Case of MBD. The per-copy prices for each publication are: incarceration itself would have 1-5: $1.00 niques could succeed to the extent Postage will be paid by the Institute when payment accompanies of creating one or several "model order." ises might go unfulfilledor. more constructive be built through the work of beorderand precustody.Page 12 w thus serve as an excuse for tolerat. Send orders to: conference stated that the model Ms.other programs will reinforcement" have worked on ment. 6-30: $1. with promises of a new era of reAlso available is a booklet containing four articles prepared for habilitativepenology. programsmay providea new packSpokesmenfor behavior control cials. Of course. behavior control profranklyacceptingof these priorities the past."said one conferenceparcontrol are now available from the Institute.which they live. state legislatures.physical punish. which originally appeared in the January.. governmentoffishaped by these needs..menting federal government hesiing numerous institutions which tance to supportbehaviormodification in The model institution may be abominableat present.But he does not serving bureaucratic stability will ditional means to this end: isolaof have top priority. to give us our Atticas.2 _ _ J .One gramscouldlend scientificand med-which is not reassuring-or is faced with a variant on the old ical prestige to the cause of reblithely confidentthat they can requestion of who will guard the habilitation through incarceration.arguedone inquireinto what "contingencies always tion. time the momentfor a fundamental Wender.The behavior qualified This Special Supplement is the edited transcript of a conference controllers could fill this vacuum sponsored by the Institute's Behavior Control Research Group." by Paul H.maintaining no more likely to succeed than trahavior modifiers. Their promthe Institute conference on "Controlling Behavior Through Drugs. are: "Psychotropic Drugs as Therawork out to the further detriment peutic Agents. 10706 the genuinelyapplicablethroughout system.