February 2009 Issue Volume 37 Issue 2

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Patrick G. Feeney, Montgomery College, died December 3 at his home in Alexandria, VA, at the age of 56.


Lloyd E. Ohlin

Lloyd E. Ohlin, a major contributor to sociological criminology died in Santa Barbara, CA, on December 6. For most of his 90 years Lloyd worked in, investigated, taught about, and conducted research in youth and adult prisons. After receiving degrees from Brown University (BA, 1940) and Indiana University (MA, 1942) Lloyd served in the Army and then went to work at Stateville Prison for the Illinois Pardon and Parole Board (1947-53) preparing cases and carrying out research on parole prediction. During this period he also completed graduate work in sociology at the University of Chicago (PhD, 1954).

Beginning in 1953, Lloyd directed the Center for Education and Research in Corrections at the University of Chicago until 1956 when he was appointed Professor of Sociology at Columbia University’s School of Social Work. At Columbia, he teamed up with Richard Cloward to produce the landmark book Delinquency and Opportunity (1960), which focused attention on the frustrations of inner city juveniles as they tried to overcome obstacles achieving societal goals.

In 1960, along with Cloward, Donald Cressey, Gresham Sykes, and Sheldon Messinger, Lloyd produced Theoretical Studies in Social Organization of the Prison (Social Science Research Council). This volume described the structure of inmate social systems, social control mechanisms, the conflict between the objectives of rehabilitation and punishment, and how the prison functioned as a social system. Through the 1960s Lloyd, Don Cressey, Dan Glaser, and Clarence Schrag trained and mentored another generation of researchers who added to what is still the classic literature on prison culture, inmate roles, and staff inmate relations. This was an era when sociologists got to know prisoners firsthand. They learned about prison life and problems as a result of spending extended periods inside the nation’s penitentiaries—a research strategy and interest practiced today by few sociologists even though there are more men (and women) locked up in this country than ever before and our prisons have never been more violent.

In 1965, Lloyd stepped up his involvement in penal policy by serving as Associate Director of the President’s Commission on Law Enforcement and Administration of Justice until 1967 when he joined the faculty at Harvard Law School as Roscoe Pound Professor of Criminology and Director of the Center for Criminal Justice. In 1972, he brought together another group of prison researchers to review new developments in penology including prisoners’ rights, diversion, and deinstitutionalization (Prisoners in America, 1973). Next he had the foresight to undertake an evaluation of one of the most interesting experiments in American corrections—Jerome Miller’s effort to close the youth prisons in Massachusetts. Three important books; A Theory of Correctional Reform (with Alden Miller and Robert Coates, 1977), Diversity in a Youth Correctional System (1978), and Delinquency and Community (with Alden Miller, 1985) documented this rare opportunity to observe the course and outcome of a truly fundamental change in youth corrections policy.

Lloyd continued his active involvement in teaching and research until he retired from Harvard in 1982 as Touroff-Glueck Professor of Criminal Justice. His relief from the problems of crime and punishment came from sailing and vacationing in a house on the Maine coast that became his retirement home. He had to overcome some personal losses: his wife, Helen, died in 1990 after a long illness and his sons Robert and Joe preceded him in death. In 1993, however, he married Elaine Cressey and they enjoyed life in Maine and in Santa Barbara with his daughters, Janet and Heather, and Elaine’s daughters and their families.

Lloyd Ohlin helped lay the groundwork for studies in the social organization of prisons that now are rarely undertaken but are badly needed in a country experiencing mass incarceration. His work had a significant impact on sociological criminology and on penal policies directed toward youth offenders; he became a professor at Harvard Law School without a law degree, sailed the New England coast, lived in some beautiful places with Elaine, and worried about the state of the nation but lived to see the election of Barack Obama all the while being one of the nicest, most thoughtful and considerate members of our profession.

David A. Ward, University of Minnesota. logo_small


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