Visions Of Prisons In The Future

2471 words - 10 pages

Since the 1700s, man has incorporated prisons with the objective of punishing individuals who had committed crimes against society. Follow us as we journey from past and present prison status, to what possibly might be the future that is prison.Imprisonment is a relatively new idea for punishing criminals. "Until the late 18th century, prisons were used as debtors' prisons. They imprisoned debtors who could not pay off their creditors, along with the rest of their family" ("Prison Systems History" 2001). Debtors' prisons changed in the 19th century, and thus began the horror of punishment for crimes. "19th century governments imprisoned people who were awaiting trial or punishment whereupon they would receive the more common capital or corporal types of punishment. Common punishments at that time included branding, imposing fines, whipping and the death penalty" ("Prison Systems History" 2001). Revenge often involved physical torture and maiming, as seen in movies depicted from that era. "The authorities punished most offenders in public in order to discourage people from breaking the law; this falls under the theory of deterrence" ("Stop the Crime" 2002)."During the 1700s, many people criticized the use of executions, mutilations and other harsh punishments. This was the beginning of the early prison reform" ("Prison Systems History 2001"). As a result, governments turned more and more to imprisonment as a serious form of punishment."Reforms in the 1900s have led to further improvement of prisons. A prisoner who receives an indeterminate sentence is confined to prison for a range of years" ("Prison Systems History 2001"). For example, a parole board, based on the inmate's behavior while in prison, determines the actual amount of time served. "By the 1960s, many people felt that criminals could be helped well outside prisons. As a result, many countries began to set up community correctional centers and halfway houses. Offenders lived in these facilities just before the release and received counseling to help them adjust to life outside prison" ("Prison Systems History 2001"). "From 1900 to 1970 rehabilitation-oriented prisons provided psychological services, counseling, vocational and technical training, education, and other services aimed at improving inmate self-esteem. Experts generally agree that little rehabilitation among inmates actually occurred. Since the 1970s, U.S. prisons have reduced the scope and availability of rehabilitative programs" ("Stop the Crime 2002"). Despite the demise of the reformatory, the goal of rehabilitation should continue to be an accepted tenet of penal philosophy.Current State prisons operate to hold criminals who have been sentenced to an institution for more then one-year. There are about eight hundred prisons in the United States and these facilities display variations in major characteristics. Most prisons house a male population and a small percentage house a female population. In very few states you can...

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