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Chapter 2. The Early History of Correctional Thought and Practice. The Early History of Correctional Thought and Practice. From the Middle Ages to the American Revolution Galley Slavery Imprisonment Transportation Corporal Punishment On the Eve of Reform

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chapter 2
Chapter 2

The Early History of Correctional Thought and Practice

the early history of correctional thought and practice
The Early History of Correctional Thought and Practice
  • From the Middle Ages to the American Revolution
    • Galley Slavery
    • Imprisonment
    • Transportation
    • Corporal Punishment
  • On the Eve of Reform
  • The Age of Reason and Correctional Reform
    • Cesare Beccaria and the Classical School
    • Jeremy Bentham and the “Hedonic Calculus”
    • John Howard and the Birth of Penitentiary
    • What Really Motivated Correctional Reform?
legal bases of punishment
Legal bases of punishment
  • Lex talionis
    • law of retaliation
    • punishment should correspond in degree & kind to the offense
    • “Eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”
  • Secular law- middle ages
    • law of civil society (vs. church law) developed along feudal system
    • feudal lords went to war over each others’ transgressions
  • Wergild- “man money”
    • money paid to relatives of a murdered person or to crime victim as compensation
    • to prevent blood feuds
    • carried view that punishment should involve participation of public
benefit of clergy
“benefit of clergy”
  • religion: early source of leniency
  • members of clergy could be tried in ecclesiastical court, where punishments less severe than in civil courts(focus of ecclesiastical court = penance & salvation)
    • available from 1200’s-1827 to anyone who could “read” text of Psalm 54 in court--ostensibly “proved” membership in clergy
    • common thugs availed themselves of the “benefit” by reciting verse from memory
    • Psalm 54 came to be known as “neck verse”
punishments in transition from old world penitentiary
punishments in transition:from old world penitentiary
  • corporal punishments (by various means)
  • death (by various means)

England’s specific contributions:

  • transportation (banishment)
    • prescribed by Vagrancy Act of 1597
  • galley slavery
    • used as a reprieve from gallows
  • imprisonment
    • historically, used mostly for:
      • political prisoners
      • those awaiting trial
      • debtors
vagrancy act of 1597 england
Vagrancy Act of 1597 (England)
  • by 1772: 60% male English felons: banished!
    • 1718-1776: 1,000 felons/yr. (n = 50,000)

 Virginia (1606)

    • convicts were given over to companies that had shipped them to colonies & sold their services (per 1717 law)

Australia & New S. Wales (after revolution)

    • felons served Crown/designee for # of years
    • then, freed (via pardon or “ticket of leave”)
    • could then choose place of work
  • banishment = consistent w/ social realities of time - response to social disorder/upheaval
early jails product of social upheaval of 16th century england
early jails = product ofsocial upheaval of 16th century England

manufacturing economy (not agrarian)

 breakup of feudalism (serfs, lords, manor)

 1,000’s rural poor (wandering country)

 urbanization (movement to cities)


 poverty, homelessness, helplessness, idleness, illness, beggars, prostitution, crime

 jails = melting pot of dysfunctional population

  • plus orphans, insane
early jails bad
early jails = bad!
  • combination: workhouse, poorhouse, jail
  • mixed men, women, children
  • conditions = abysmal!
    • filth
    • squalor
    • malnutrition
    • predatory environment
  • reform  “house of correction”
    • combined elements of all three institutions
    • emphasis: put idle poor to work!
      • from thinking of Protestant Reformation“an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”
bridewell house 1st house of correction 1553
Bridewell House1st house of correction (1553)
  • objective: “to instill a habit of industry more conducive to an honest livelihood”
  • strategies:
    • discipline + work!
    • products to be sold on open market
    • facility to be self sufficient
  • failure...
    • facilities filled w/criminals
    • physically deteriorated
    • not profitable
    • reformative aim vanished
impact of bridewell
impact of Bridewell
  • replicated in Europe; more successful
    • Holland, Germany
    • France (Maison de Force, in Ghent, 1772 - wheel)
    • Italy (Milan House of Corrections, 1775)
  • these became precursors to 19th C. prisons in America
  • they impressed John Howard, English reformer
  • Howard brought ideas back to England! (popularized in colonies)
what we will see
What we will see…
  • 19th/20th Centuries saw VARIETY of social experiments re: punishment
    • based on variety of competing social/political philosophies from 18th, 19th centuries
  • witnessed general TREND away from brutality of ancient & middle ages
  • these developments stemmed generally from 5 major social, economic, political, & religious trends …
1 breakdown of feudal order move industrial society
1. breakdown of feudal order & move industrial society
  • elimination of class of serfs bound by birth to service of Lord of the manor
  • demise of agriculture
  • population moves to urban centers
  • rise of middle class
  • emergence of trades; commerce

 seeds of industrial revolution

2 ideas of the protestant reformation
2. ideas of the Protestant Reformation
  • Martin Luther (1599): man is capable of interpreting Bible (w/o Pope);

 elevated man to new status of free thinker

 weakened political/economic power of Roman Catholic Church

 weakened Church’s role in definition/punishment of errant citizens

 weakened Church’s role in creation & administration of law…

3 emergence of secular legal systems
3. emergence of secular legal systems
  • new legal systems were developed by civilian authority to protect the interests of independent parties other than the church
  • new systems (e.g., courts) came to be administered by non-religious authorities
  • Exemplified by  Anglican Church/ of England; Henry VIII’s break from Pope;A Man for All Seasons
4 values of the enlightenment
4. values of the Enlightenment
  • 1600-1700’s: English/French social/political writers popularized certain “progressive” concepts, e.g.:
    • Liberalism
    • Rationality
    • Equality
    • Individualism
    • Limitations on the power of government
    • Scientific inquiry….
enlightenment con d
Enlightenment … (con’d)
  •  created new popular belief in:
    • rights of man
    • importance of individual
    • concept of free will
    • role of government: limited! protect rights!
  • e.g., Hobbes:
    • “life in state of nature…[bad]”
    • government/society formed to protect man from hardships of total independence
  • e.g., Locke, Montesque:
    • government as “social contract”
    • man gives up rights & enters into union w/ others for mutual benefit/protection
5 age of science reason
5. age of science & reason
  • we are capable of discovering why & how things happen
  • the world operates according to rules
  • we can use science & reason to discover those rules that govern behavior (of both universe & man)
    • Galileo: universe behaves according to predictable patterns
    • Newton: matter & motion governed by certain “laws of physics”
result entirely new ways of viewing world
result: entirely new ways of viewing world
  • new beliefs re:
    • nature of man & human behavior
    • faith in our ability to change people
    • the relation of man to society
    • belief in the rights of man
    • equality of treatment (less brutality)
    • limited power of state
  • new schools of thought re: crime & punishment (popularized by writers)
    • Beccaria, Bentham
    • Howard …
cesare beccaria 1738 1794
Cesare Beccaria (1738 - 1794)
  • Father: classical school of criminology
  • Italian scholar; applied rationalist philosophy of Enlightenment to CJS
  • Essays on Crimes & Punishments, 1764
  • writings revolutionized thinking re: role of law, criminal punishment, & operation of CJS
classical school of criminology beliefs
classical school of criminology: beliefs
  • man has free will
  • crime is volitional (willed, intentional)
  • man can change his behavior
  • man should be punished in proportion to the severity of the crime he commits
  • the basis of all social action should be the utilitarian concept: “the greatest good for the greatest number”

 “utilitarianism” (though Beccaria not thought of as father of utilitarianism)

principles of classical school
principles of classical school
  • sole justification for punishment is its utility--the safety it provides via crime prevention
  • punishment is for deterrence, not revenge
  • prevention > important than punishment
  • punishment should be the least possible,
  • punishment  proportionate, dictated by law
  • certainty/swiftness > important than severity
  • advocated penal reforms:
    • avoid torture &secret accusations
    • right to speedy trial & to present evidence
    • humane treatment; improve prison conditions
    • classify offenders: age, sex, degree of criminality

 Pa. penal law, penitentiary movement

jeremy bentham 1748 1832
Jeremy Bentham (1748 - 1832)
  • father of utilitarianism
  • English advocate of prison reform
  • Intro. to the Principles of Morals & Legislation, 1789
  • applied utilitarian theory to law & punishment
  • founder of “panopticon” prison design
    • circular building with glass roof;cells around circumference, on each story
    • e.g., Western State Penitentiary (Pitt, 1825);Stateville (Ill, 1916)

doctrine that the aim of all action should be the greatest possible balance of pleasure over pain. This will create the “greatest good for the greatest number.”

bentham con d
Bentham… (con’d)
  • “hedonic calculus” = pleasure/pain principle
    • key concept in utilitarianism
    • rational persons behave in ways to maximize pleasure, minimize pain
    • law should assure that offender will derive more pain from punishment than pleasure from crime
  • advocated reforms:
    • goal of law: prevent, not avenge crime
    • eliminate barbarity, inconsistency in punishment
    • abolish transportation
    • segregate by age, sex, seriousness
    • improve morals, health, education of prisoners

 religious services; keep prisoners busy

john howard 1726 1790
John Howard (1726 - 1790)
  • The State of Prisons in England & Wales, 1777
  • (major) English penal reformer
    • middle class, country squire, social activist
    • appointed Sheriff of Bedfordshire,1773; but unique: took active interest!
    • visited local facilities; shocked by conditions
      • most jailers of time: non-professional, unsalaried appointees - indifferent to care/conditions
      • collected $$ (e.g., discharge fees) from inmates
      • overcrowding, no discipline, unsanitary (“prison fever”- typhus - killed 1,000’s)
    • visited hulks, houses of corr. in Eng/Eur
      • returned with ideas for reform….
howard con d
Howard … (con’d)
  • drafted Penitentiary Act of 1779; with Blackstone & Eden
  • 4 principles:
    • secure & sanitary structure
    • systematic inspection
    • abolition of fees
    • reformatory regimen
  • features:
    • solitary cells at night
    • hard labor in common rooms by day; aim --> Drudgery!
    • religious instruction & reflection
effect of howard s work
effect of Howard’s work:
  • slow to catch on in England
  • colonies much more susceptible
  • new ways of thinking in America:
    • Declaration of Independence & US Constitution championed:
      • optimistic view of man
      • belief in human perfectibility
      • belief that crime = f (environment)
      • individual rights
      • limitations on power/authority of gov’t
    • by-products of this thinking:
      • need to reform of harsh penal codes/punishments
        • Mass (1785); Pa (1786); NY (1796)
      • preference for incarceration (+ hard labor)
penitentiary an idea with universal appeal
Penitentiary: an idea with universal appeal

legalists  deter crime

philanthropists  save humanity

conservatives  save money (inmate-produced products)

politicians  solution to disquieting prison situation

industrialists  new way of disciplining/ training new working class to serve industrial society; (e.g., John Conley-revisionist historian)

emergence of the penitentiary in america
emergence of the penitentiary in America
  • reform ideas didn’t materialize in England until 1842: Pentonville, North London
  • but, quickly took root in colonies and laid groundwork for look & operation of American penitentiary
    • Walnut St. Jail, 1790
      • portion of jail was converted to place of separate confinement in 1790
      • quickly overcrowded
    • Eastern State Penitentiary (Cherry Hill, 1829)
    • Western State Penitentiary (Pittsburgh, 1825)