April 15, 2013
History of Corrections
* In 2011, the United States had about 6,977,700 inmates in its correctional facilities. Correctional facilities can also be referred to as jails, state prisons, and federal prisons. There are also many different security levels within jails, state prisons, and federal prisons. Let’s start by discussing what jails are, as well as a brief history.
* The term “jail” is used by counties and cities to house criminals for short periods of time. Jails normally house individuals who have been convicted to serve a short sentence, awaiting trial, people who have not yet posted bond and detainees who have been arrested on ...view middle of the document...
Jails and workhouses were two different facilities, but often jails would hold both populations. It wasn’t until the end of the eighteenth century that the United States adopted the concept of confinement for punishment and rehabilitation for offenders.
The term “corrections” was used as the function for dealing with criminal’s after a court sentences them. However, over time the boundaries of corrections has changed, and now corrections relates to individuals who are detained in jails that have been charged with crimes as well as pretrial services (Seiter, p. 5, 2011). Because of this broader characterization of corrections, correctional agencies have acknowledged that they often are required to deal with individuals who have yet to be found guilty and sentenced to punishment.
* In the 1800s, prison systems were originally called penitentiaries. Penitentiaries main purpose was to house inmates by way of solitary confinement and in cell work labor. Inmates were not allowed to speak to each other, and prison guards were required to keep inmates from seeing each other. In today’s society, prisons are used to rehabilitate criminals.
* State prisons have gone through a slow but deliberate transformation. Prison operations in the early eras were very similar to the pre 1930s federal prison system. According to Seiter (2011), there was no central control of prisons and legislatures allocating budgets and personnel directly to each individual prison (p. 154). State prison wardens had complete control over hiring and firing of staff as well as management and discipline of inmates.
As of the first half of the twentieth century, prisons were still run by wardens with no cabinet-level agency to oversee it. However, as state prison systems have increased, and their missions have become more complex, which has resulted from increasing intervention of courts defining expected constitutional standards; prisons have become more visible and accountable to the public (Seiter, p. 154, 2011). Because of this, many states have formed cabinet-level departments to oversee state prisons. The purpose behind developing cabinet-level-departments is to have some separation between politics and correctional policy. Correction board members are appointed by the governor and usually are made up of individuals from different political backgrounds.
The first federal prison system was established in 1930 when president Hoover signed a bill establishing the Federal Bureau of Prisons. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is in charge of prisoners who commit criminal acts considered to be felonies under the District of Columbia’s law. The establishment of the Bureau was to provide humane care of federal inmates, professionalism of prison staff, and to ensure consistent and centralized administration. The Bureau is also responsible for carrying out federal executions.
The federal prison system consists of five different security levels: minimum, low,...