CJ121 – Corrections 14 JUL 2010 Corrections Timeline This narrative will illustrate a timeline depicting four eras within the correctional system of America. The eras that I will be discussing are: 1800, 1920-1950, 1990, and 2000’s. For each era, the following items will be described: the history and development, treatment and punishment of the offenders, the description of the holding and monitoring of the offenders We Have Talents To Deliver Essays In All Subjects – go to the website http://www.theworldmls.com/author/NancyHarris . The conclusion will discuss the alternatives to incarceration and the influences of the eras in today’s correctional system, as well as, recommendations for ways in which the current correctional system could be improved upon.
There is no doubt that America is one of the world’s most sophisticated and advanced countries. Therefore, the prison system must follow accordingly, abiding by the government regulated rules and regulations of equality and fairness that this country was founded upon. Unfortunately for some of the citizens of the United States, they do not always abide by these rules and regulations, which results in incarceration. The federal government, states, counties, and many individual cities have facilities to confine these people who become incarcerated.
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There are a number of sanctions available to the criminal justice system to reprimand those who commit criminal offences, such as: jail, probation, prison, parole, and execution; each of which has their own definition and guidelines. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, jail is defined as a place of confinement under the jurisdiction of a local government. Jail is generally reserved for those who have been accused of a crime and are awaiting trial or for those who are convicted of minor offenses, such as misdemeanors, where the period of incarceration is less than one year.
Probation is the action of suspending the sentence of a convicted offender and giving the offender freedom during good behavior under the supervision of a probation officer. This can be issued in lieu of jail or in conjunction with. Prison is an institution under jurisdiction of the state for confinement of persons convicted of serious crimes, punishable in excess of one year. Parole is issued to person incarcerated in prison and is a conditional release associated with a prisoner who served an indeterminate or incomplete sentence. The ultimate form of punishment is the death penalty or capital punishment.
A majority of the states, but not all, issue the death penalty as punishment for murder or other capital offenses with a combination of aggravating circumstances. The earliest punishment for a crime committed was that of revenge. This was usually inflicted upon the offender, by the victim and family of. As the evolution of man and society, there was the creation of the criminal justice system. This system, as it still evolves today, developed a legal structure consisting of rules, regulations and punishments for violations of the law; along with those who would be responsible for carrying out the duties of enforcement, trial, and punishments.
During the early eras of the correctional system, sanctions for criminal behavior tended to be public events which were intended to disgrace the person and deter others from committing similar acts; these included the ducking stool, the pillory, whipping, branding and the stocks. At the time the sentence for many other offences was death. Some of these offenses that resulted in death may seem minor or trivial in comparison to today’s criminal acts. Penitentiary Era 1800 The first half of the 1800’s represented a turning point in the history of correctional punishment.
Capital punishment was now regarded as an inappropriate punishment for many crimes. The act of shaming an individual in the view of the public was regarded as an outdated form of punishment. By the mid-century, imprisonment had replaced capital punishment for most of the serious offences committed; except for the act of murder. As the Industrial Revolution emerged rapidly, a new concept of criminal punishment came into play as a result of a few energetic reformers. Many of these ideas were directed towards the rehabilitation of offenders.
Therefore, the citizens of Pennsylvania led the way in developing the penitentiary. The Pennsylvania system was first utilized in the Eastern State Penitentiary. It was designed like a wagon wheel, with long corridors of cells. This penitentiary was also very advanced in comparison to other correctional facilities of its time, abandoning corporal punishment and mistreatment. This massive new structure, opened in 1829, becoming one of the most expensive American buildings built during its era. Each of the prisoners had their own private cell with a flushing toilet, skylight, and running water.
Adjacent to the cell was a private outdoor exercise yard which was enclosed by a ten-foot wall. This was in an age when the White House, which was home to the President of the United States, didn’t even have the luxury of running water and was heated with only coal-burning stoves. The main objective of the Eastern State Penitentiary would not simply punish, but direct the criminal toward a spiritual change or rehabilitation. The early system was very strict. To prevent distraction, knowledge of the building, or even interaction with prison guards, the inmates would be masked whenever they were outside their cells.
This method was developed by the Quakers system of isolation from other prisoners, inspirations of religion and the use of hard labor. They were clapped into leg irons and linked together with heavy chains; hence the term “chain gang”. Prisoners repaid the states by building public roads and clearing brush near the roadways. Gangster Era 1920-1950’s As the evolution of the correctional system continued to advance, the Great Depression became the root of a severe escalation in crime during the late 20’s and 30’s, which created a new era of organized crime.
The gangster era was in full effect, and the nation was exposed to horrific violence, brought upon by the prohibition and economic desperation. Prohibition, which halted the legal manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages, inspired bootleggers to commit many violations of federal law. The American people were fearful as these mobsters and “public enemy’s” who forced upon their heavy influence against the metropolitan cities and the law enforcement agencies which protected them. Authorities soon became overwhelmed and were not equipped to deal with this new wave of criminals.
They would often retreat or avoid any conflicts involving gangsters, who were often better armed than they were. Once captured, Alcatraz was the ideal solution to the rising problem. Before Alcatraz became one of the biggest tourist attractions and most famous landmarks of the San Francisco Bay area, it was once considered the toughest Federal prison in America. In the mid 1800’s its natural isolation, surrounded by freezing waters and hazardous currents, became an ideal location for holding the captives of the United States Army.
However, due to rising operational costs, the military decided to end its operations and close the prison in 1933. It had then transferred ownership to the United States Department of Justice. In April of 1934 construction began to remodel and modify the previous military prison. The soft squared bars were replaced with a stronger and more modernized material that was resistant to tools, preventing escape. Electricity was also wired into each cell, and all of the utility tunnels were filled with cement so that a prisoner could not gain access or hide in them.
This same tool proof material was made into iron window coverings, which would protect all areas that could be accessed by inmates. Special observation posts or gunner’s nests would extend across the cell block perimeters, allowing guards to carry weapons while protected behind iron rod barriers. These secure areas, which were elevated and out of reach of the prisoners, would be the control center for all prison keys, and would allow the guards the ability to oversee all the prisoners’ activities. Additionally, guard towers were strategically positioned around the perimeter of the prison.
With the advancements in technology, Alcatraz introduced the use of electromagnetic metal detectors, which were positioned outside of the dining hall and on the prison work shop access paths. There were also special canisters filled with tear gas, which were installed in the ceiling of the dining hall, and could be remotely activated from both the gunners nest and other observation posts. The cell house contained almost six hundred inmate cells, with no cells connecting to any of the perimeter walls.
The implementation of these new measures, combined with the natural isolating barrier created by the freezing San Francisco Bay waters, would serve the dual purpose of incarcerating the nation’s most habitual criminal offenders while standing as a visible deterrence to others. The island was then declared a federal prison by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in August 1934. Overcrowding of Prisons 1990’s Throughout the second half of the twentieth century, the emphasis shifted away from the punishment and refocused the attention toward the rehabilitation of offenders.
In the 1990’s, it was believed that with the use of rehabilitation in the form of proper treatment and social services such as vocational and educational training, individual psychological counseling, group therapy, halfway houses, work release programs, and other behavior modification programs, the prisoners could be remolded into a productive member of society. However, this form of rehabilitation has only proven effective in a small percentage of criminals; as many inmates return to a life behind bars.
This is partly as a result of the lack of economic funding to facilitate the education, healthcare and drug rehabilitation programs. Those who have been incarcerated know that the correctional system basically provides free housing and meals for the convicted inmate. Many offenders of the law continue to violate the law even after release from jail or prison. They have become accustomed to prison life, where it gave them a place of respect or belonging and soon return to a life of crime. Consequently, sentencing policies and constitutional debates also affected capital punishment during this era.
Jurors were often hesitant when deciding to spare the lives of violent offenders in case of any chance these offenders might be released and return to a life of violent crimes. As a result, legislatures established the option of life imprisonment without possibility of parole, producing more prisoners with indefinite sentences. This would also create and influx of the future geriatric inmates, extended health care costs and overcrowding. Several decades later, at the end of 1990, the number of prisoners incarcerated in Federal or State correctional institutions reached a record high.
For example, the state of Arizona has relocated the overcrowded inmate population into tents outside of the fortified prison structures. This requires additional staff to monitor the prisoners who are not confined to a secured cell. The exact extent of overcrowding in the nation’s prisons is difficult to determine because of the lack of uniformity to define capacity. For example comparing the available space to house inmates in relation to the ability to staff and operate an institution. Economic and Political Dilemma 2000’s
The dilemma of overcrowding in prisons continues today, as a result of stricter regulations and sentencing. Congress and many states enacted statutes mandating minimum terms for some offenses and for offenders who committed multiple crimes, the so-called “three strikes” rule. The criminal justice system and the citizens of every city and state have become more aware of the people and environments that surround them. There is no one hundred percent definitive answer to why criminals commit crimes or how to predict who will commit them.
You make a mistake and you learn from those mistakes. This extended or harsher punishment was also enacted in fear of repeating historical high profile cases, such as the case of the Milwaukee Cannibal (Jeffrey Dahmer), the murder of Adam Walsh, and the attacks against America. Also in the spot light is the economic state of the nation and the ability to continue to incarcerate offenders and offer rehabilitation programs. With the current economy that has affected the entire nation; it has become difficult to facilitate the needs of correctional system.
This includes current security institutions, vacancy within the facilities, rehabilitation staff, educational teachers, medical personnel, and the actual corrections staff. Not everyone suffers from the overcrowding of prisons. Investment bankers, architects, building contractors, and equipment vendors look increasingly to prisons as markets; however budgets restrict new construction. With an abundance of prisoners, private corporations have taken advantage of contracting out prison labor. Inmates in state penitentiaries generally receive the minimum wage for their work, but not all; some states pay inmates well under the minimum.
In some privately contracted prisons, inmates receive as little as 17 cents per hour for a maximum of six hours a day, which could equal roughly twenty dollars per month. With operational costs like this, it is no wonder why corporations use prison labor, where work used to be designed for third world labor markets. Now products are assembled on American soil, avoiding the time consumption and costs of importing and exporting goods. Alternatives Today, prisons range from minimal security prisons and juvenile halls, to maximum security prisons and mental institutions.
I don’t know if there can or should be alternatives to incarceration. It is really difficult to give a description of alternative measures, when you do not have a particular issue to address; especially when each and every state have different laws, regulations, and ways to interpret them and issue punishment. Everybody makes mistakes in life, some obviously more severe than others. Therefore, I do strongly believe in the correctional system, the implementation of the “three strike” rule and the need for offenders to be punished for their actions.
Time and time again people are given “a slap on the wrist” and immediately continue their habitual ways; increasing to more severe acts. It is those who take advantage of the leniency given by the proceeding authority that makes me furious. They are given a second chance to better themselves and they revert to their criminal ways. There are also too many cell block lawyers and ambulance chasers out there inflicting doubt and twisting their own interpretation of the constitution upon the criminal justice system and those who enforce it.
This has somewhat weakened the backbone of the system in fear of career ending landmark lawsuits. America is in an economic crisis; however we spend billions upon billions of economic funding to help other countries and fight endless wars. Yes, we are the land of the free and express unlimited opportunities; however I find it hard to justify excessively assisting others, when we cannot help ourselves. I am not saying to turn our backs to international relations, but take a step back and get caught up on our own issues of concern. Works Cited: jail. ” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2010. Merriam-Webster Online. 9 July 2010 http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/jail Fortress Alcatraz – Guardian of the Golden Gate . Berkely: Ten Speed Press, 2004. 14-18, 60, 72, 102. Print. Gill, Robert. “The American Prison System. ” Associated Content (2009): 3. Web. 11 Jul 2010. Sherman, Michael, and Gordon Hawkins. Imprisonment in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981. U. S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Outlook Handbook