An explanation of the history of the corrections system and varying approaches to corrections by era

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22 December 2015

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An explanation of the history of the corrections system and varying approaches to corrections by era


            Incarceration is a type of punishing criminal that became prevalent in the USA prior to the Revolution, although corrective imprisonment efforts started in England as early as 1500s, a number of detention facilities and dungeons as forms of prisons were in existence ever since that time. Efforts done in building prisons in was in 3 major ways (Ayers, 1984). The first starting in the period of the Jackson Ian Era that became prevalent in rehabilitative and imprisonment labor as the main punishment for many crimes in virtually all places by Civil War time.

Subsequently there was incarceration following the Civil War gaining drive in the Liberal Period, getting some tools—like bail, trial, and unstipulated penalizing—in the conventional of corrective practice (Ekirch, 1987). Lastly, subsequently after the early 1970s, the USA has been involved in a historical exceptional development of its incarceration organizations at level of state and federal. In the meantime in 1973, the imprisoned persons rose in a five-fold, and in any given year 7, 000,000 individuals are under control and supervision of correction.

In these times of reforming and constructing prison great alterations in the prison responsibilities, missions and structure systems of state and federal agencies for supervising and administering them, in addition to the political and legal status of prisoners themselves (Christianson, 1998).

Prison is among one of a number of sanctions available to the courts to deal with those who commit criminal offences. Imprisonment today is the harshest sanction available (Alexander, 2012).

In the 1600s and 1700s

            Approval of criminal behavior tends to be proceedings of public aimed at humiliating the person and avoiding others from the wrongdoing; these are inclusive of the branding, stooping stool, whipping, scorning, and the stocks (Christianson, 1998). At that time the sentence for most wrongdoings was death. Prison inclined to being a habitation where individuals were held up as they waited for their punishment and prior to their trial (Ekirch, 1987). It was hardly utilized in punishing in its way. Everyone inclusive of boys, girls, men and women were locked together in prisons (Christianson, 1998). This period prisons were poorly kept and frequently managed by careless prison warders. People died from diseases like gal fever that is a form of typhus.

In this Era, a prototype correction building was build – the London Bride well. Correction houses were at first part of the Poor Law machinery, anticipated to impart industry habits by prison labor (Alexander, 2012). Many individuals locked in them were minor offenders, tramps and the unsystematic indigenous unfortunate people. Towards the end of 17th century, they were captivated into the system of prisons by local Justices of the Peace control.

Question Number 2

            Description of the participants of the corrections system and their roles

Correctional officer (CO):

            He assists in controlling, directing and monitoring the movements and activities of inmates (Ayers, 1984). He makes sure prison rules are followed, ensuring the safety and security of inmates, staff, visitors and the community (Alexander, 2012). As a visitor you will frequently come in contact with Correctional Officer.

Correctional Sergeant

            Correctional sergeants supervise Correctional officers and perform custody work, which involves providing safety and security as well as controlling, directing and monitoring the activities and movement of adult inmates (Ekirch, 1987). Correctional Sergeants have a variety of duties depending upon where they are assigned (Alexander, 2012). Each facility has a public Access or visit Sergeant who generally can resolve issues relating to the visiting process.

Correctional Lieutenant

            A correctional lieutenant is responsible for security operations during his her shift and supervises Correctional Sergeants (Christianson, 1998). This position manages any response to emergency situations that may arise.

Correctional Captain

            This is the senior custody staff member responsible for facility-wide custody and security operations and supervision of Lieutenants (Ayers, 1984).

Community Corrections Officer (CCO), Classification Counselor (CC)

            Each inmate has an assigned CCO or CC, depending on the facility in which they reside or the county in which they are supervised (Ekirch, 1987).. Counselors handle day-to-day issues or concerns of inmates in a housing unit. Counselors are responsible for classification and case management (education and work programs) and release preparation. CCOs are in the community offices, pre-release and work release facilities, providing a similar service to inmates who are on community supervision.

Correctional Unit Supervisor (CUS)

            A CUS is responsible for the management of a housing unit, including the supervision of CCs or CCOs, and custody staff (Sergeants and Cos) (Alexander, 2012).

Question Number 3

 Impediments and issues faced by corrections admins when running a prison

            According to Alexander (2012), present prison populations being a mixture of short term and long term and “lifers”, definite and indefinite sentenced inmates, the sick the healthy, the young, the old. Rehabilitation and a better way of life are some of the reasoning behind such programs though the necessity of some of these programs is under scrutiny (Christianson, 1998). Politicians and tax payers frown upon such programs as conjugal visitation, some feeling that the programs are too risky and sometimes too expensive (Christianson, 1998). At the extreme this programs are looked upon as a luxury and lessen the punishment effect of incarceration.

Management control of facilities is another problem (Ayers, 1984). The thought of contracting communicable diseases and being abused by violent inmates threatens staff and the general population. One solution is to remove predatory and other dangerous offenders from the population (Ekirch, 1987). HIV-Positive inmates, serial killers, violent sex offenders being some. Many have proposed isolation of problem offenders.

It is a scary concept that an innocent person convicted of a crime to have contracted Aids while being incarcerated (Alexander, 2012). Even scarier to perceive is if the inmate contracted the disease as a result of rape (Blackmon, 2008). The rates of HIV and AIDS in prisons are estimated at five times higher than within the general population. This fact has been attributed to a higher number of inmates sharing of needles and also of inmates that participate in unprotected sex in prisons (Alexander, 2012). As of 1996, there were 25,000 inmates with HIV and by then only 16 states tested all inmates entering prison. The dilemma facing corrections is whether they should be segregated from the population to stop the spread of disease.

The quality of life of seropositive inmates is greatly affected by administrative decisions on screening and detection, housing programs, access to quality medical treatment, mental health support, and funding. Management of HIV is very complicated (Ekirch, 1987). One must take multiple medications on varying schedules, custody and health staff must develop a supportive medication administrative system (Ayers, 1984). HIV-Positive need proper treatment and may require a higher level care that may not be available at all areas of institutions. Patients with HIV infection may require isolation if they have pulmonary tuberculosis. Obviously there is need for segregation.

There is the ethical issue of whether it is right to segregate all HIV-positive inmates from the general population. Activities are important to the daily lives of all inmates (Ayers, 1984). Aids patients are no different. Decisions on housing HIV-Positive inmates should be based on what is appropriate for their age, gender, custody class, not just for the fact that they are seropositive. Not all HIV-Positive inmates are a danger to other inmates (Blackmon, 2008). The type of offence, length of time sentenced general behavior, and expert report gathered at the classification stage will be a better indication of whether they will pose a danger to the prison system.

Besides communicable diseases, criminal recidivists pose an enormous social problem to society Hirsch, Adam J. (1992).

A lethal predator such as serial killers and violent sex offenders pose a particular problem not just in the free world but inside prison cells. Most profilers say serial killers do not learn from mistakes in their previous killings. They feel no guilt, no remorse and have an attitude of total disdain towards their victims. There’s a self-importance that runs in all of them and must demonstrate mental abnormality, usually a combination of sexual sadism and psychopathy (Blackmon, 2008).

Conjugal visitation is not available to most married and unmarried inmates in U.S. prisons it is allowed only in six states, California, Connecticut, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York and Washington (Christianson, 1998). Viewed as an unnecessary prisoner privilege in some jurisdictions, many members of the general public such as lawmakers frown upon such issue. The thought of inmates enjoying themselves while serving a punitive prison sentence is largely unacceptable to innocent, American citizens who fall prey to criminal acts.

Many view visitations as improving prison environment by giving inmates something to look forward to and an incentive to participate in rehabilitative programs, and a mechanism with which to cope with prison life (Christianson, 1998).

Reflecting on the prison population and some of the issues for the future of corrections, employees will have to become better versed in supervising and caring for the very dangerous, the average, the very young, the very old, the mentally ill and the infirm (Blackmon, 2008).

Question Number 4

            A complete description of the rights of prisoners and the Administration of required services by prison officials:

In accordance to Alexander, Michelle (2012), these rights were embraced by the First United Nations Congress on the Prevention of crimes and the treatment of offenders held at Geneva in 1995, Part I of the rules covers the general management of institutions and is applicable to all categories of prisoners, criminal or civil, untried or convicted,

Basic principle

There shall be no discrimination on grounds of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status (Christianson, 1998).

On the other hand, it is necessary to respect the religious beliefs and moral precepts of the group to which a prisoner belongs.


According to Ayers, Edward L. (1984), In every place where persons are imprisoned there shall be kept a bound registration book with numbered pages in which shall be entered in respect of each prisoner received:

Information concerning his identity

The reasons for his commitment and the authority therefor;

The day and hour of his admission and release

No person shall be received in an institution without a valid commitment order of which the details shall have been previously entered in the register is in accordance to Bookspan, Shelley (1991). .

Separation of categories

8. The different categories of prisoners shall be kept in separate institutions or parts of institutions taking account of their sex, age, criminal record, the legal reason for their detention and the necessities of their treatment in accordance to Ekirch, A. Roger (1987).. Thus,

Men and women shall so far as possible be detained in separate institutions; in an institution which receives both men and women the whole of the premises             allocated to women shall be entirely separate;

Untried prisoners shall be kept separate from convicted prisoners;

Persons imprisoned for debt and other civil prisoners shall be kept separate from persons imprisoned by reason of a criminal offence Hirsch, Adam J. (1992);

Young prisoners shall be kept separate from adults.


            9. (1) where sleeping accommodation is in individual cells or rooms, each prisoner shall occupy by night a cell or room by himself (Christianson, 1998). If for some reasons, such as temporary overcrowding, it becomes necessary for the central prison administration to make an exception to this rule, it is not desirable to have two prisoners in a cell or room (Blackmon, 2008).

(2) Where dormitories are used, they shall be occupied by prisoners carefully selected as being suitable to associate with one another in those conditions (Christianson, 1998). There shall be regular supervision by night, in keeping with the nature of the institution.

10. All accommodation provided for the use of prisoners and in particular all sleeping accommodation shall meet all requirements of health, due regard being paid to climatic conditions and particularly to cubic content of air, minimum floor space, lighting, heating and ventilation (Ayers, 1984).

11. Every place the prisoners are needed to work or live.

(a) The windows shall be large enough to enable the prisoners to read or work by natural light, and shall be so constructed that they can allow the entrance of fresh air whether or not there is artificial ventilation (Alexander, 2012).

(b) Artificial light shall be delivered adequately for the prisoners to read or work without injury to vision.

12. The sanitary installations shall be adequate to enable every prisoner to comply with the needs of nature when necessary and in a clean and decent manner (Christianson, 1998).

13. Adequate bathing and shower installations shall be provided so that every prisoner may be enabled and required to have a bath or shower, at a temperature suitable to the climate, as frequently as necessary for general hygiene according to season and geographical region, but at least once a week in a temperate climate (Ekirch, 1987).

14. All parts of an institution regularly used by prisoners shall be properly maintained and kept scrupulously clean at all times (Alexander, 2012).

Personal hygiene

            15. Prisoners shall be required to keep their persons clean, and to this end they shall be provided with water and with such toilet articles as are necessary for health and cleanliness (Ayers, 1984).

16. In order that prisoners may maintain a good appearance compatible with their self-respect, facilities shall be provided for the proper care of the hair and beard, and men shall be enabled to shave regularly (Alexander, 2012).

Clothing and bedding

            17. (1) Every prisoner who is not allowed to wear his own clothing shall be provided with an outfit of clothing suitable for the climate and adequate to keep him in good health (Ayers, 1984). Such clothing shall in no manner be degrading or humiliating.

(2) All clothing shall be clean and kept in proper condition (Christianson, 1998).. Underclothing shall be changed and washed as often as necessary for the maintenance of hygiene.

(3) In exceptional circumstances, whenever a prisoner is removed outside the institution for an authorized purpose, he shall be allowed to wear his own clothing or other inconspicuous clothing (Blackmon, 2008).

18. If prisoners are allowed to wear their own clothing, arrangements shall be made on their admission to the institution to ensure that it shall be clean and fit for use (Ayers, 1984).

19. Every prisoner shall, in accordance with local or national standards, be provided with a separate bed, and with separate and sufficient bedding which shall be clean when issued, kept in good order and changed often enough to ensure its cleanliness (Christianson, 1998).


            20. (1) Every prisoner shall be provided by the administration at the usual hours with food of nutritional value adequate for health and strength, of wholesome quality and well prepared and served (Ekirch, 1987).

(2) Drinking water shall be available to every prisoner whenever he needs it.

Exercise and sport

            21. (1) Every prisoner who is not employed in outdoor work shall have at least one hour of suitable exercise in the open air daily if the weather permits (Ekirch, 1987).

(2) Young prisoners, and others of suitable age and physique, shall receive physical and recreational training during the period of exercise (Alexander, 2012). To this end space, installations and equipment should be provided.

Medical services

            22. (1) At every institution there shall be available the services of at least one qualified medical officer who should have some knowledge of psychiatry(Alexander, 2012). The medical services should be organized in close relationship to the general health administration of the community or nation. They shall include a psychiatric service for the diagnosis and, in proper cases, the treatment of states of mental abnormality.

(2) Sick prisoners who require specialist treatment shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals (Ayers, 1984). Where hospital facilities are provided in an institution, their equipment, furnishings and pharmaceutical supplies shall be proper for the medical care and treatment of sick prisoners, and there shall be a staff of suitable trained officers.

(3) The services of a qualified dental officer shall be available to every prisoner.

23. (1) In women’s institutions there shall be special accommodation for all necessary pre-natal and post-natal care and treatment. Arrangements shall be made wherever practicable for children to be born in a hospital outside the institution (Ekirch, 1987). If a child is born in prison, this fact shall not be mentioned in the birth certificate.

Due to limitation of pages I shall summarize the rest as medical care shall be adequately provided to prisoners, discipline and order shall be maintained with firmness so as to have safe custody and a well and orderly life (Alexander, 2012)…

No prisoner shall be punished unless he has been informed of the offence alleged against him and given a proper opportunity of presenting his defense (Christianson, 1998). The medical officer shall visit daily and advice director if he considers the termination or alteration of the punishment necessary.

Question Number 5

            A detailed description of alternative forms of corrections, including methods of rehabilitation and reintroduction to society.

Prison abolition movement attempts to eliminate prisons and the prison system (Christianson, 1998). Prison abolitionists see the prisons as an ineffective way to decrease crime and reform criminals, and that the modern criminal justice system to be racist, sexist, classist (Ayers, 1984). One of the arguments made for prison abolition is that the majority of people accused of crime cannot afford to pay a lawyer.

Ways of eliminating incarceration could include:

  • Decriminalization
  • Abolishing the system of bail
  • Establishing community based dispute and mediation centers
  • Restitution ie creating community mechanisms for assuring payment or services by wrong doers to the wronged
  • Fines
  • Suspended sentences
  • Community probation programs
  • Alternative sentencing


            Process of decriminalization means to wipe certain laws off the books. Crimes considered for decriminalization are those that are victimless (Christianson, 1998). This is defined as offences that do not result in someone feeling that s/he has been injured in a way of impelling him/her to bring the offence to the attention of the authorities (Ekirch, 1987). The essential factor is that there is no victim to bring complaint, three statutes emerge within this definition: moral statutes, illness statutes, nuisance statutes.

Victimless crimes maybe irritating, annoying, or troublesome in general, but they are not really injurious to anyone in particular, they are “crimes” because the law says they are “crimes” (Christianson, 1998). Among those usually sighted are non-commercial gambling, prostitution, “deviant” sexual acts in private between consenting adult, public intoxication, possession, sale and distribution of illegal drugs, “blue laws” against doing business on Sundays, loitering, disorderly conduct and vagrancy, truancy, incorrigible, stubborn or ungovernable behavior

Abolitionists advocate drastically limiting the role of criminal law (Ayers, 1984). It is realized that criminal sanctions are not an effective way of dealing with social problem. There is unjust and arbitrary law enforcement. Powerless persons are imprisoned while powerful persons go free (Ayers, 1984). Blacks and poor people bear the brunt of unequal law enforcement. Morality cannot be coerced through law. A democratic society should tolerate a wide range of individual differences (Alexander, 2012). A person’s right to do what s/he wishes should be respected as long as s/he does not infringe upon the right of others.

Over criminalization encourages the wide use of discretionary power in law enforcement, because there is no complainant, police resort to questionable means of enforcement, investigative techniques used to gather evidence are often immoral and sometimes illegal (Ekirch, 1987). These include entrapment, use of informers, wiretapping, and infringement of constitutional rights such as illegal search and seizure, invasion of right of privacy and self-incrimination (Ayers, 1984). Enforcement of victimless crimes also encourages corruption.

Graft and pay-offs are frequently made by neighborhood numbers rackets and places of prostitution (Blackmon, 2008). Crime syndicates manage to soak up much money flowing through illicit “industries” such as gambling and drugs. Prostitutes are arrested mostly the ones who are black, while most of their victims are white aged between 30 and 60 years thus there is selective enforcement

            Abolition of bail

            All persons are innocent of crime until proven guilty. No one may be deprived of liberty without the due process of law (Christianson, 1998). The mechanism developed by British society for this purpose was bail.

De Tocqueville clearly saw that the bail system is inherently discriminatory against the poor (Ekirch, 1987). By placing a price tag on the right to freedom before trial beyond the reach of indigent, it makes a mockery of the presumption of innocence and provides the underpinning for the use of the criminal (in) justice systems by the powerful to control the powerless.

Bail has been shown to be unnecessary to accomplish its stated objective of return to court (Ayers, 1984). The costs are paid in three coins: in human suffering by the poor who are its hostages; in money by the taxpaying middle class; and in the erosion of civil liberties arising from the system’s hidden abuses.

In accordance to Hirsch, Adam J. (1992), the beneficiaries are: professional criminals, for whom ransom is a “business expense”; the wealthy, who are protected by a custody system paid for mainly by the taxes of the middle class as an instrument of social control against the poor and dissident; and bonds people, who make their living from the bail system and are pledged to serve that system.

Despite proof that the system of bail is unnecessary to assure court appearances, the holding of hostages continues (Blackmon, 2008). The cost of their incarceration both in economic and human terms is staggering (Ekirch, 1987). Half or more of accused persons are detained in jail pending trial. On a single day, if the system of bail were abolished, upwards of 50,000 pretrial detainees could be released from jail and thousands in the arrest and arraignment stage would avoid the cage entirely.

Bail has been used as an instrument of preventive detention and as a constitutionally guaranteed avenue of pretrial release (Alexander, 2012). There are thus prejudices too much room in the bail system and no defense against, the administration of justice by personal from which no one, including the judge is free. The abolition of bail would expose this hidden agenda and force the development of open and fair rules and judicial accountability.

Community dispute and mediation centers

            Mediation centers present a unique opportunity for grass roots involvement in the process of justice and excarceration (Blackmon, 2008). Abolitionists recommend the establishment of such centers in every neighborhood By the use of the moot model where neighbors and kin of the disputants listen to the airing of disputes (Christianson, 1998). It is not coercive and allows the disputants to discuss their problems In an atmosphere free from the questions of past fact and guilt.


            Payment can be made by the offender for a particular amount of dollars for a particular kind of injury and y amount of dollars for another, as in workmen’s compensation or in tort (Gottschalk, 2006). The lawbreaker then is kept in the community and corrects his/her wrong, corrects discomfort and inconvenience of victim, saves community and individual economic and psychic costs of trial etc., reduces role of criminal law (Ekirch, 1987).


            The poor unable to pay fines systematically filled the jails until a supreme court decision in 1971 ruled that an indigent could not be imprisoned upon non- payment of a fine but must be given an opportunity to pay in installments, the wrong doer is then able to stay in the community, saving the state probation expenses, welfare expenses, and the human costs of caging.

Suspended sentences

            Used as a mechanism of establishing responsibility for wrong doing without imposing punishment or any supervisory conditions on the wrongdoer , the defendant loses fewer civil right, while probation is likened to suspended sentence, they differ in that probation carries with it the threat of imprisonment, most variations of the suspended sentence require that no law be violated (Blackmon, 2008). It is the least punitive of a range of alternative sentences.


            It is the most commonly accepted and widely used mode of excarceration (Blackmon, 2008). Though mostly used on non- violent crimes, it has been extended to include other homicides and other serious wrongs which usually result in imprisonment. In unsupervised probation, persons would be under no compulsion to report or participate in programs, but could request for help from probation officers in accordance to Hirsch, Adam J. (1992).

Question Number 6.

            A comprehensive list of alternative strategies to incarceration with an assessment, both pro and con, showing their worth as related to traditional, incarceration strategies.

The predominate purpose this question was asked was to illustrate that there are programs accessible and effective substitutes obtainable instead of incarceration. Some of the famous ones used at present will be described briefly.

Development in Early childhood: The Head Start program returns about seven dollars in benefits for every dollar invested (Ayers, 1984). Children born in poverty who attended a head start preschool program have half as many criminal arrests, less likelihood of going to jail, higher earnings and property wealth, and a greater commitment to family than similarly situated people who did not attend the program (Alexander, 2012).

Reformation: Where teenagers will get ways to entertain themselves, by breaking windows and drinking liquor if not by playing ball or some other sport (Alexander, 2012). Parks and recreational opportunities like the Midnight Basketball and late night recreation center openings are proven effective at reducing crime (Alexander, 2012). When a pilot program in Phoenix, Arizona, kept recreation centers open until 2 a.m., juvenile crimes decreased by as much as 50%. The cost of the program was kept low at only sixty cents per person (Ayers, 1984).

Gang Awareness: Kids often turn to gangs because of the absence of pro-social recreational alternatives. Kids also turn to gangs for a sense of being, something they may not be receiving at home (Ekirch, 1987). Parents sometimes do not take enough time with their children to show them their worth at home, giving them a reason to stay instead of roaming the streets. Most often times, gangs are more destructive to property than to human life (Alexander, 2012). When gangs do turn violent, it is most often times directed at “rival” gangs or families of the rival gang members. Gangs are a problem, not just in big metropolitan cities, but also in small suburban towns and rural America. Gang problems must be addressed at the first signs of potential activity.

Society needs to teach children that gangs are not proper places to gain education and experiences, which should be accomplished more effectively in school and at home (Ayers, 1984). Education: Education is the route to better jobs and a potential way out of crime (Ekirch, 1987). In 1991, for the first time in U.S. history, cities spent more on law enforcement than on education (Alexander, 2012).

Jurisdictions around the country are cutting education budgets because they lack sufficient funds, while setting aside funds for law enforcement (Ayers, 1984). 16 Schools that engage parents or caretakers in troubled communities show excellent results. Now, I don’t necessarily agree with cutting back on law enforcement spending (Ekirch, 1987).


Alexander, Michelle (2012). The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, New York.

Ayers, Edward L. (1984), Vengeance and Justice: Crime and Punishment in the 19th-Century American South, New York.

Blackmon, Douglas A. (2008), Slavery by another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II, New York.

Bookspan, Shelley (1991). A Germ of Goodness: The California State Prison System, 1851–1944, Lincoln.

Christianson, Scott (1998). With Liberty for Some: 500 Years of Imprisonment in America, Boston.

Ekirch, A. Roger (1987). Bound for America: The Transportation of British Convicts to the Colonies, 1718–1775, Oxford.

Gottschalk, Marie (2006). The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America, Cambridge.

Hindus, Michael Stephen (1980). Prison and Plantation: Crime, Justice, and Authority in Massachusetts and South Carolina, 1767–1878, Chapel Hill.

Hirsch, Adam J. (1992). The Rise of the Penitentiary: Prisons and Punishment in Early America, New Haven

Gottschalk, Marie (2006). The Prison and the Gallows: The Politics of Mass Incarceration in America, Cambridge.

Hindus, Michael Stephen (1980). Prison and Plantation: Crime, Justice, and Authority in Massachusetts and South Carolina, 1767–1878, Chapel Hill.

Hirsch, Adam J. (1992). The Rise of the Penitentiary: Prisons and Punishment in Early America, New Haven

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