The Zimmer Amendment
NCRA 1997 Conference Session
Melanie Hurst and Dick Edwards

Description in the conference program - From FCI Greenville and Sandstone respectively they will detail the amendment that has the federal recreation professional between a rock and hard place.

My notes:

They announced that Saturday, Dennis Miller from the FBOP would be giving a follow up presentation on this topic.

The session was very participative as attendees shared their experiences and what they had heard about the various recreational restricting laws.

The bill went into effect Oct. 1, 1996 (physical year).

Minor repairs of some equipment can be made for safety reasons.

A lot of discussion about acoustic guitars and amplifiers.

Feb. 13 1997 there was new bill (HR 792) prohibiting upper body training. It is called the Prison Security Enhancement Act of 1997 and was introduced by Price of Ohio. Inmates are not to engage in any activity to increase upper body strength.

There was some talk about educational Pell Grants in prison.

North Carolina had a No Frill prison act 2 years ago. Sec. of Corrections was a big supporter. They only lost the pool tables. New facilities could not ad weightlifting unless it posed no threat to staff or population. The new facilities there are buying free weights but no pool tables. They presented the weights as a wellness activity and not as a physical activity.

Leavenworth reported they had been running 9 months without weights. They were removed July 31st. It has been tough, but you can run a facility without weights.

FCI Beckley and Wasica reported they had adapted nicely to no lifting.

South Carolina got rid of all weights, scoreboards, some softball fields, 13 rec job positions. They tried to work in a wellness program. Each warden had a different interpretation of the situation.

Washington - They went through a change a couple of years ago, lost 20 rec positions. Now:

Connecticut - looking at fees. One quote was, "I'd rather have an inmate knock me out with one punch vs. kick my butt for 45 minutes because he is aerobically fit."

Colorado - We need to communicate what we are doing. It is our management tool. 'It is not the big brute that is the problem, it is the wirey little guy in the corner working on the shank." Playing numbers game because in the past did not want to be part of education dept. Some give pop and food for prizes.Some certificates, grab bag prizes. Need to educate the public on how the funds are generated, it is inmate money not tax payers money. Also need to educate the rest of the staff about the importance of rec.

San Antonio music rep spoke about how when the inmate use music, they are subliminally learning to read and some math. In Austin, he visited with the NIJ who said music cuts down on violence in prisons. In a recent Newsweek article, researchers are using music to treat Alzheimers. If the rec dept. does not want to purchase musical instruments, parents will buy them for their kids in prison (if they are allowed to.) Freemont had 5 bands and only had one person violate the code in 4 years.

New York spoke of a recent study on weight lifting in prisons and how the director said the public does not care if lifting makes the inmates easier to take care of. The public might be interested if we could document that inmates that lifted were a better person after being released or if we could document that lifting reduced recidivism.

Leavenworth mentioned it seems like a cycle. Things get tight for a few years, then you can do anything you want, then the pendulum swings.

South Carolina mentions they also recognize the pendulum. Education does go with rec. They can go hand in hand.

We will continue this discussion Saturday. We have discussed a lot of what it is about, We will try to discuss more about how it is working.


Strength Tech comment - There is understandably considerable confusion about the various laws, proposed laws, and the FBOP guidelines. The Zimmer amendment is no longer in effect. It only covered that one appropriation. The FBOP has adopted practices that reflect some of the Zimmer amendment concepts and continues to operate under them. Currently, the Oct 1, 1997 to Sept 30, 1998 budget bill HR 2267 is in effect and contains a provision similar to the Zimmer amendment

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