Any prison management system is required to operate within an ethical framework, irrespective of the management style employed. Cyndi (127) outlines two types of prison management styles which are authoritarian and bureaucratic management styles. This paper discusses the connection between the different forms of prison management and the difference of ethical problems under each one of them.

Prison Management Styles

Cyndi (127) asserts that the autocratic prison management style applies to a form of dictatorship where one person rules and unilaterally makes decisions without regarding the subordinates. In this form of prison management, the decisions made will reflect the opinions and personality of the prison wardens.

On the other hand, the bureaucratic prison management model signifies a form of organization based on order, logic and the legitimate application of formal authority. According to Cyndi (127), the bureaucratic prison management style includes clear-cut sharing out of labor, formal procedures and rules, strict hierarchy of power and authority, logic and order. This management style is concerned with ensuring that the prison officers and prisoners follow the laid down rules and procedures.

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Ethical Issues in the Prison Management Styles

The relationship between the bureaucratic and the autocratic styles of prison management is seen in the aspect that the governorship of the prison system is expected to be autocratic, and at the same time, abide by the rules that bureaucracy has drawn up. According to Cyndi (127), the bureaucratic prison management style has been viewed as an amoral basis of given penal legitimacy that prisons are no longer being viewed as good or bad for the prisoners and the staff. Ethical issues in the Autocratic prison management styles include issues like insensitivity to the needs and opinions of the staff and the prisoners.


In conclusion, the bureaucratic and autocratic prison management styles involve the use of policies and procedures, and the use of unilateral decision making criteria respectively.

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