Importance of Sports in Corrections Work

We are reproducing portions of an abstract of a 1975 West German paper on Correctional Recreation below. The abstract originates from the NCJRS.

Importance of Sport in Corrections Work
Zetitschrift Fuer Strafvollzug Und Straffaelligenhilfe. 
Vol.24 No.1. March 1975. Pgs.41-49. 
By Gesellschaft Fuer Fortbildung and Der Strafvolizugsbediensteten Ev. 
The Journal was edited by B. Gareis. (West Germany). 
NCJRS abstract database # 30097.

Conducted in Ebrach, West Germany, this study emphasizes the physical, psychological and social therapeutic value of sports programs for inmates, especially juveniles. Sports activity is not merely an alternative spare time occupation. The study compared two groups of inmates and cites several benefits of prison sports. The article is in German, an abstract is below. If anyone has access to a full copy of the paper in German or english, please contact us.

Twenty juvenile inmates in a rehabilitation facility who were very active in sports over a 12-month period were compared to 20 inmates who had not participated in sports programs. Those who had participated showed improved self-confidence, more energy and overall activity, more optimism, greater emotional stability, a higher degree of cleanliness, and increased interest in personal upkeep. In general, it was demonstrated that sports can be used to modify behavior by providing a positive release of aggression. In the "play atmosphere" of sports, inmates' spontaneous reactions permit their personality problems to be assessed more easily and truthfully, and a partnerlike relationship occurs between the inmates and the therapists, who are also the sports instructors. In addition, these programs encourage communication and cooperation between inmates and custodial personnel, which eventually aids in resocialization. Not all sports are conductive to rehabilitation; e.g., bodily contact sports such as soccer promote violent activity, basketball, pingpong, handball, swimming, and volleyball are recommended, and along with weightlifting are excellent for improving self-image. Controlled competition and cooperation in a peaceful environment thus produce solidarity among the inmates, instructors, and guards; enhances self-confidence and prepares inmates for social rehabilitation.

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