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Chapter 15. Corrections: History, Institutions, and Populations. “Correctional Facilities” aka “Incarceration Facilities”. Community residential centers Jails Reformatories Penal institutions Houses of corrections Juvenile and adult schools, ranches, camps, homes Halfway houses.

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Corrections: History, Institutions, and Populations

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Chapter 15

Corrections: History, Institutions, and Populations


“Correctional Facilities” aka “Incarceration Facilities”

  • Community residential centers
  • Jails
  • Reformatories
  • Penal institutions
  • Houses of corrections
  • Juvenile and adult schools, ranches, camps, homes
  • Halfway houses

English Gaols & Hulks

  • Gaol could be any secure place
  • Hulks were abandoned ships
  • Prisoners were mixed together:
    • Adult & juvenile / male & female
    • Hardened & first time offenders
  • No state responsibility for health, safety & welfare
  • Survival of the fittest

The Pennsylvania System and William Penn

  • New, more humane system introduced, forbidding torture
  • Imprisonment at hard labor & moderate flogging with restitution
  • All lands and goods were to be forfeited
  • Ordered houses of corrections to be built

The Pennsylvania System

  • Single inmate to a cell
  • Cells designed as miniature prisons
  • Constant solitary confinement
  • The Eastern State Penitentiary (in Philadelphia) became the most expensive and most copied building of its time.

The Pennsylvania System (cont.)

  • Modestly appointed:
    • Bed
    • Table
    • Chair
    • Bucket
    • Bible
  • A place to reflect on wrong doings and improve one’s moral character (“to get right with God”)

The Auburn System: An Alternative to the Pennsylvania System

  • Sometimes called the tier or congregate system
  • Based on fear of punishment & silent confinement
  • Congregate work conditions
  • Separate & silent conditions at night
  • Enforced silence was the key to discipline

Prison Reform

  • Zebulon Brockway begins reforms at Elmira (NY) Reformatory
    • Reform measures include education, vocational training, military-like training, and humanitarianism
  • Parole brought to America

Prison Industries

  • Contract System
  • Convict Lease System

Demise of Prison Industries

  • Organized labor unions oppose forced labor (unfair competition)
  • Sumners-Ashurst Act (1940): federal offense to transport interstate commerce goods made in prison for private use

Failure of Reform Efforts

  • The modern era has been a period of change and turmoil in the nation’s correctional system
  • Why reform efforts have failed:
    • Failure of the medical model to rehabilitate coupled with high recidivism rates
    • Increase in prison violence
    • Increase in prison costs

Who are the Most Common Kinds of Jail Inmates?

  • Young, single, male
  • Undereducated
  • Minorities
  • Low income
  • Single parent family
  • Drug/alcohol abuse
  • Property crimes

Women in Jail

  • Increase of 6% annually since 1990
  • Substance abuse common
  • Victims of child abuse

Jail Conditions

  • Operated under concept of custodial convenience
  • Understaffed, underpaid
  • Lack of basic programs and services
  • Suicides common

New Generation Jails

  • To relieve overcrowding and improve effectiveness, a jail-building boom has been underway. Modern designs are being used to improve effectiveness.
  • New generation jails allow for either direct or indirect continuous observation of residents.

Types of Prisons

  • As of 2003, there were more than 1,600 public and private adult correctional facilities housing state prisoners.
  • There are 84 federal facilities and 26 private facilities housing federal inmates.
  • The number of prison institutions has increased 14% since 1995.

State Prison Organization: Maximum Security Prisons

  • Fortresses
  • Cells/blocks/wings
  • Standard uniform and dress codes
  • Everything based on security (lock psychosis)

State Prison Organization: Medium Security Prisons

  • Similar appearance to maximum security
  • Security is less intense
  • More privileges
  • More treatment effort

State Prison Organization: Minimum Security Prisons

  • No armed guards or walls
  • House most trustworthy & least violent offenders
  • Dormitory style housing or small rooms
  • Often farms or ranches

State Prison Organization: Ultra-Maximum Security Prisons

  • House most dangerous, predatory criminals
  • Extra-tight security and isolated conditions are common
  • All potential weapons removed, e.g., mirrors, toilet seat, soap dishes, etc.
  • Some claim violations of United Nations standards for the treatment of inmates

Prison Inmates Personal Characteristics

  • Young
  • Single
  • Poorly educated
  • Disproportionately male
  • Disproportionately minority group member

Why Have Prison Populations Grown?

  • Public demand for punitive punishment
  • Mandatory & determinate sentencing
  • More drug and violent crimes
  • Increased use of incarceration by judges
  • Lack of employment opportunities slow the rate of prisoners released on parole

Prison Overcrowding

  • 37 states operating under court orders
  • State prisons are over 100% capacity
  • Some responses:
    • Double/triple bunking
    • Tents & military bases
    • River barges
    • Use of local jails

Shock Incarceration (aka Boot Camp)

  • Typical inmate is a youthful, first time offender convicted of a property crime
  • Often used when drug use was a factor
  • Uses a military regime discipline and physical fitness

Private Prisons

  • Private company builds prison and contracts to run it
  • In some cases, the prison and programs are leased to the state
  • In other cases, specific service program contracts are made
  • More than 264 private facilities operate under federal or state authority
    • The number of inmates in private facilities has risen 459% since June 1995

Problems with Private Prisons

  • Biased evaluations re: effectiveness
  • Cut corners to save costs
  • Hard core prisoners not accepted for state care
  • Maintenance of liability
  • Loss of state jobs
  • Difficult to control quality
  • Moral considerations

Going to Prison During Your Lifetime

  • The prison boom means that a significant portion of American citizens will one day be behind bars. One in 37 adults living in the U.S. on December 31, 2001 had been confined in prison at some time during his or her life.
  • Between growth in the population and increases in life expectancy, the number of current or former inmates increased by 3.8 million between 1974 - 2002.
  • There were racially significant differences in the likelihood of going to prison.

Explaining Prison Population Trends

  • Politicians respond to “get tough” demands from certain segments of the public
    • Public concern increases over drug and violent crime
  • Mandatory sentencing laws increase eligibility for incarceration and limit the availability for early release via parole
  • Increased number of ex-inmates who have failed on community release