History of Corrections

Essay by IssyJoCollege, UndergraduateA+, May 2014

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History of American Corrections

Phase 1 Individual Project

Isaac Joseph

May 26, 2014


Prof. David Clise

The history of American corrections is riddled with the best intentions but the worst abuses. Created to remove the riffraff, poor and criminal, that flooded the urban streets in order to control and shape them. Prisons and community corrections were also created to avert violence and coercive responses to criminal actions. In colonial America, about 200 years ago that most convicted offender were fined, banished, mutilated, branded, tortured, or killed. (Flynn, 1977). In those days prisons were places where a person was held for either ransom or awaiting sentencing. A review of the history of prison development reveals that imprisoning convicts is a rather new phenomenon.

It was after the American Revolution that imprisonment as a form of criminal punishment became a widespread in the United States. The Jackson Administration use rehabilitative labor as a penalty during the American Civil War.

Parole, probation, and indeterminate sentencing came in the Progressive Era, which later became a main mechanism in the American penal practice. Incarceration is one of the main forms of punishment and rehabilitation in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics there a 2,266,800 adults were incarcerated in the U.S.

The United state house the incarcerated individuals in large facilities called a penitentiary. A penitentiary is an institution designed for offenders to mediate upon their crimes and through penitence achieve absolution and redemption. The penitentiary is truly the first modern prison. The first American penitentiary was built in Philadelphia in 1790. Called the Walnut Street Jail they carried out incarceration as punishment, implemented a rudimentary classification system, individual cells, and was intended to provide a place for offenders to penance i.e. "penitentiary". (Johnson, 2005).