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Module 2- The Philosophy & History of Corrections
Transcript of Module 2- The Philosophy & History of Corrections
The broad focus of this module is that you understand the historical development of corrections over time with an eye towards how corrections in other parts of the world influenced the development of American corrections.
More specifically, this module traces the development of corrections with a focus on early and contemporary punishment rationales and how those rationales translated into the development of corrections in early colonial America.
Understand natural law and the philosophical reasons why societies develop criminal justice and correctional systems.
Compare deterrence, retribution, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and restoration as punishment philosophies, and sentencing rationales.
Trace the history of corrections to ancient societies and throughout various religion traditions.
Recognize the development of corrections in colonial America.
Understand the penitentiary and reformatory movements and their relationship to social conditions and crime rates.
Recognize key figures in correctional history, such as John Howard, Alexander Maconochie, Walter Crofton, Zebulon Brockway, John Augustus, and others.
Identify the eras of correctional and prison history in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Understand the current state of correctional philosophy and practice.
The Beginnings: Medieval Europe, the Middle Ages, and the Spectacle of Death
Prison institutions are considered our most visible punishment today! As mentioned in module 1, most individuals associate “corrections” with prison institutions.
However, there were no “real” prisons (generally) until 1500s in England—and not in America in 1820s.
Until relatively recently in history, and especially in America, there were no such things as probation or community service or boot camps.
To be sure, societies have always have had holes in the ground or other “places” to hold offenders of various sort.
Philosophies of Punishment
Deterrence is simply discouraging crime via “fear” of punishment. There are two types of deterrence.
is discouraging others from committing crime by making an example of others.
Others are deterred from stealing, for example, after watching someone get punished for stealing.
is punishment directed at a specific person.
A murder is executed, and that person is deterred from further acts because they are now dead.
Vengeance, revenge, and “just deserts” are often associated with retribution.
Retribution is punishment in its purest form—an eye for an eye.
To incapacitate a criminal means to eliminate or reduce their ability to commit further crimes.
Incarceration, for example, largely incapacitates a criminal while they are locked up.
The notion of fixing or training a person such that they adopt a non-criminal lifestyle.
As a punishment philosophy, it focuses on “restoring” the person to society following crime so as to discourage future crimes. It also focuses on restoring the victim and community, and is often referred to in practice as “restorative justice”
As noted, our earliest approaches to punishment were based on “primal” instincts— REVENGE for wrongs. Retribution—plain and simple
This has changed over time
Let’s examine the progression of change. As we do so, notice our development from retribution to other punishment philosophies.
Historical Approaches to Corrections
Best known and earliest codified laws 1780 B.C.E. and the Code of Hamurabi
Punishments were primarily death—for all offenses
If any one break a hole into a house (break in to steal), he shall be put to death before that hole and be buried.
Search the Internet for the “Code of Hammurabi” and read some of the clauses.
Also, for context, search the Internet for a timeline of history to orientate yourself with dates.
Justice was based on lex talionis—an eye for an eye. A single act of retribution
No concept about reforming, but paying for crimes
Although probably based on good intentions, the Code was generally quite excessive in punishments.
In an overall view, punishments were focused on the “body” from 3000 BC (or BCE or some other variation) (when codes of behavior and punishment first appeared) until the 1700s AD (when “body” focused punishments became less frequent, but did not disappear altogether)
Over time, the degree of torture generally reflected the seriousness of the crime
An ordinary murderer or property offender would simply be killed
Lesser offenders might receive fines, slavery, or whippings
Aggravated murders (or offenses such as trying to kill the king) would suffer the greatest torture and humiliation
1.Drawing and quartering
Watch the scene in "Braveheart" for context
2.Skin tearing with red hot pincers
4.Sawn in half
5.Boiled alive (pot or brazen bull)
6.Pressed to death
8.Stoned to death
Punishments varied around the world.
Rome and Gladiator slaves/competitions (Emperor Augustus) around 450 BC.
Look up recent “Gladiator Fights” by searching for the California Prison System videos that occurred at Corcoran prison where some guards staged fights between rival gang members.
Romans were fascinated by “exotic” beasts
A slave might win freedom; but rare unless showing of particular might and fighting skills
Watch the film “Gladiator” for a Hollywood context.
The "Spanish Inquisition" (1300-1400s AD) rooting out Jewish, Protestants, and other non-believers in Catholicism (Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain)
A group of investigators and executioners
Reciting passages from bible
Most were illiterate which prevented this issue
Church punished with death those who were “heretics”
Questioned the church or non- believers
Punishment by “trial by ordeal”
Trial and punishment all in one
Example: Put a candle to an offender’s hand—if the offender does not get burned, they are innocent.
How many people were innocent?
Could escape death by:
1.Announcing faith to Catholicism
2.By benefit of clergy
Over time, death became less frequent in Europe and by 1400-1500s, alternative systems of punishments emerged.
For the most part, torture dwindled
Torture even became less torturous during this time
There emerged a science of death to lessen suffering or gruesomeness
1.Breaking a person at the wheel with no blood
2.Broke every bone, but no blood (canon or church law at the time wanted to avoided spilling of blood)
Forerunner to US Constitution
By 1700s most extreme forms of torture and prolonged death had disappeared and were very infrequent
Why did this occur?
1.Government became more stable and criminal law become developed
See Magna Carta discussion on page 42
2.Punishments started to become rationalized
Read about “Cesare Beccaria” on page 42
Rationalization of punishment
To deter crime, according to Beccaria, punishments must proceed on these goals
4.No longer death for everything—society was evolving
3.Public became outraged, especially with open and public executions
Society was becoming more "civilized"
In fact, other punishments were much more frequent than death as early as 1200- 1400s
Fines or “wergild”
Payment for wrong
Usually reserved for those with money to avoid jail or worse
Penance and begging for salvation
Rowing and otherwise working on ships during war time
Mutilations and Brandings
Imprisonment by any form would not become popular until 1600s in Europe and Britain and later the 1800s in America
Imprisonment by 1500s
Rarely used and not a primary punishment
Expensive—so used dungeons, rock quarries, abandoned mines or cages of one variety or another
What “gaols” (pronounced jails) existed were filthy—usually housing the poor and those in debt—and their families
Land meant riches and world power
One of the most fascinating forms of punishment of offenders
Different than banishment
Banishment was removal to another area in land
Transportation entailed removing a person out of country
Rationale of Transportation:
1.Remove society of “disease”
Crime was a disease that could be caught
2.Helped in the colonization of new lands by sending convicts to establish the colonies
Sent convicts to Devil’s Island in French Guiana (off the coast of South America)
Transportation from Britain
Sent English prisoners to America in 1600s to help in settlement and colonization of Virginia
50,000 convicts sent to America
Later transportation would be to Australia, as America refused convicts by the American Revolution and beyond (stopped by 1776)
Transportation/Banishment in Russia
Sent inland (banishment) to Siberia
No hopes for recolonizing
Prisoners were sent to work in dangerous mines and later to build the trans-Siberian railroad
Sentences meant death essentially for those working in the mines
Transportation in France
The most famous transportation country
Conduct an Internet search for Devil’s Island for information, pictures, and more.
Despite these alternative punishments, death remained an important part of Europe in the 1500-1700s, even if sparingly used by this time
In many ways, it was used for its symbolic importance
Evolution of American Corrections: Colonial America
1.Colonial Period (1600-1800s,generally)
Colonial life and the Puritans
1.Because change came to Colonial America
Crime was thought to be the result of "moral deprivation"
They were naturally depraved—only responding to punishment, not rehabilitation.
The “wayward” were dealt with by punishments that “shamed” and were meant to be reintegrative
Stocks, whipping, placed in a cage or banishment
Why did shaming punishments supposedly work?
1.Small knit communities
2.Offenders had a “stake” in the community
These punishments eventually became less effective
2.Change in Colonial America
Population increases with the Market Economy and Trade
Shipping and infrastructure led to growth in all major Northeastern cities (Boston, Philadelphia, New York)
Prior to 1800, America was predominately small and rural
By 1830, the population had doubled,urban or city populations tripled (from 4 million to 12 million overall)
It was a breaking away from where they left—brutal regime of England
What was the impact of population growth on Colonies?
1.Merchants aboard ships led to a demand for taverns and other “illicit” establishments.
2.Led to vice and temptations for the members of the growing colonies
3.Led to more people settling in colonies for profit.
4.The ever present stranger
Those who did not buy into religious, puritanical ways
Transient populations with not “stake” in the welfare of the area
Just simply no attachment
The growth in the number of criminals, poor, mentally ill, and delinquent meant the need for an institution to take the place of traditional punishments and informal control.
1.Stocks and other forms of punishment really did not work on those with no stake in their immediate society
2.Banishment did not work, the criminals would come back
3.Needy overran ability of neighbors and community to deal with problem
4.Capital punishment had already declined for the most part— because America was ‘more civilized’ than the mother country
NOTE: Many still sentenced to death, but rarely carried out
Such a situation led to the development of the penitentiary in the late 1790s and 1800s
Reforming the criminal and deviant
By this time, the belief was that crime and other forms of deviance was a result of a deteriorating society
Under this thinking, the best way to reform the criminal and deviant was “removal from temptations of society”
To train the offender into a productive member of society
Key point: An institution would provide social control; not the people.
The Penitentiary in America (1880s)
Military model prison
The first (non-war time) American Prison was the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia in 1776 (see also Newgate discussion on page 46).
First attempt at institutionalizing deviance because of population growth
Goal: contain the “disease” of criminality that was spreading
Conditions were filthy at Walnut Street Jail—no philosophy behind operation initially
Warden sold alcohol
Men and women mingled together
In 1790 Walnut Street Jail became a state prison
Implemented first forms of solitary confinement
Walnut Jail resembled punishment— not reformation
A bad initial experiment
Escapes and fires
Assaults and punishment for inmates
Imagine having to start and run a prison from scratch with no knowledge on how to do it!
See bottom of page 47 “How would you design a prison”
This is what faced those who started the first prison experiment in America at Walnut.
This first experiment almost ruined the idea that institutions could work for reforming criminals
Led to a nationwide recruitment for architects and experts on the best way to design and operate a prison that would “cure” the criminal of deviant ways
Two types emerged:
1.Pennsylvania (Separate System) 1829
Built on Religious Quaker ideals
Solitude and penance
Quakers were “reformers”
2.New York System (Congregate System) 1816
A different system altogether
Profit and punishment driven
Two Systems in America by their Names
Pennsylvania System (1829) or named
Eastern State Penitentiary
Auburn System (1816)
Strict isolation eroded with overcrowding and eventually failed by 1900s. By then, Eastern State resembled a completely different type of prison.
(see picture in book on page 47. Search the Internet for pictures and information on Eastern State Penitentiary)
Cherry Hill Section in Philadelphia
The most expensive building at the time in the United States (designed by John Haviland)
Separate confinement and maximum isolation at all times
Reasoned that separate confinement would prevent further “contamination” of prisoners
Strict separation and silence at all times
In cell work; no congregate work
Work was privilege
in cell eating
Recreation was done in back of door through cell
Alternated recreation so no human contact with other prisoners
Only visitor was priest or prison official (rare)
Everything was meant for total silence and solitude so that criminal could “think” and repent.
Guards wore socks over shoes to avoid any noise or contamination of prisoners
Food carts had leather padding on wheels so not to make noise
Hard suffering would help them change their lives
Solitary existence prevents corruption from prisoners, and of guards (containing disease)
Whole school of crime argument
Isolation would allow offenders to repent and reflect on their lives
1.Since they were products of society’s problems, removing them from the temptations of society would cure them. So was the thinking.
2.In short, Eastern State Penitentiary was an experiment at simulating the perfect society.
3.In essence, Eastern State was meant to resemble the simpler and less problematic life in the 1700s before massive population (and problem explosion).
For a similar line of thinking, go rent the movie the “Village”. The parents wanted to remove themselves to a simpler time.
No work in congregate meant that institution could not turn a profit
Thus, more costly
Inmates were said to have “gone insane” with so much solitary confinement
New York System (1816)
The Reformatory Movement (1870s approximately
A nationwide debate about the best model
Eventually, Auburn “won” because of focus on productivity and work in a growing industrialized society
Made a profit
Prisons in other parts of country (and world) based on Pennsylvania system discarded it and ran it like Auburn
The Auburn style prison spread through the Midwest
Did not spread, for the most part, in the south and west (although those areas too developed Auburn style prisons for a time)
1.Problems with the Penitentiary made some question it as the best way for criminals.
Crime continued, criminals were not treated or deterred from crime
Institutions became overcrowded, violent, and filthy places which some said made better criminals.
Prisoners were not classified at all
Men, women, and children together
Hard core with property offender
Much abuse within prisons
2.The Reformatory movement was the answer to some
Reformatory, as its name suggests, was about reforming—not punishing or correction through penance.
Cincinnati 1870 and the National Prison Association (today American Correctional Association (http://aca.org/), page 50).
Watchdog group on treatment of inmates
Advocated for reform of prisoners 1.See list from the 1870 National Congress
Reformers advocated several changes to institutionalization
Adopt classification among prisoners
Adopt indeterminate sentences, instead of fixed or determinate sentences
Indeterminate was meant to release prisoner after or when they are reformed. A determinate sentence was fixed (e.g., 5 years), and release occurred at time of sentence expiration, regardless of level of reform.
Work and education for reform; not to support institution like at Auburn
Development of rudimentary parole release system
Zebulon Brockway and Elmira Reformatory
1876 at Elmira, New York
Instituted initial diagnosis as key to reforming offender
1.Through inmate interviews of their life and circumstances
2.Individual treatment program of work and education was devised for each offender following inmate interviews
3.Early release was tied to progress within the institutions
4.Classification was incorporated a.Young from old
Serious from non-serious 5.Grading system to gauge progress and reformation was tied to release
6.See page 51-52 on Elmira Reformatory
Sounded good in theory, but in reality did not differ substantially from harsher Auburn prison or others like it
The above were ideal conditions
Guards did not adjust
Ran it the “old way”
Corporal punishment was used frequently; as was solitary confinement
Work often was used to support institution and education was lacking
Inmates behaved appropriately; but this did not mean that they changed
Eventually, system regressed into a custodial institution and reformation fell by the wayside.
The Bottom Line
Corrections has changed tremendously since the earliest codified laws and punishments (generally, the Code of Hammurabi).
The broad evolution spanned from an extreme emphasis on corporal punishment and death to the very spared use of death in extreme cases today, and corporal punishment in corrections in American is illegal.
Although imprisonment is a major correctional sanction today, it must be remembered that community sanctions account for the largest share of correctional clients (e.g., probation, parole, and intermediate type sanctions such as halfway houses and boot camps).
Even so, more than 1.6 million individuals reside in correctional institutions across the country—most in state level prisons—and such institutions are clearly a staple in the U.S. correctional landscape.
Although different philosophies of punishments have enjoyed prominence over different time periods, as far as correctional institutions go today, incapacitation appears to be the operational goal of corrections despite claims by others that rehabilitation is the goal.
The sheer number of prisoners today means that incapacitation functions as the tier one goal, with other goals such as rehabilitation on any meaningful scale becoming impossible. Just as noted in the discussion of the New Penology at the end of the chapter—the method of operation in today’s prisons is more about managing bodies and managing risk than it is active to rehabilitation.
Please read the rest of Delisi pages 53-61. Many of these areas will overlap with future chapters and will be covered then.
A major focus of this module will be on the development of the penitentiary in America in the early 1800s, and how and why this penitentiary model was much different than that seen throughout the world. An understanding of the development of the penitentiary in American will help inform and guide this module to an understanding of the current state of correctional philosophy and practice.
Even so, early punishment systems outside of America typically relied on other methods of punishing lawbreakers—and these methods rarely involved prison like facilities or structures.
In fact, most of the earliest forms of punishment were the most simple— corporal punishment (e.g., whippings) or death by execution.
Such early punishments were often driven by the rationale of pure punishment—Lex Talionis, any eye for an eye, or more formally today—retribution.
Earlier and much different than Pennsylvania
Congregate work and eating
Solitary at night in cells
Although prisoners worked together during the day, total silence was strictly enforced through military model
Warden, Elam Lynds, was a former military officer
Stripping process like military
1.Number instead of name
5.Strict corporal punishment
People needed to be “broken down” and then resocialized
Lynds believed inmates were incorrigible—or unreformable
Prison as and for punishment
1.Going to prison was a punishment
2.Once there, further punishment would ensue
The belief that the best way to accomplish punishment was through labor
Inmates made everything, even contracted out through the northeast.
Self supporting to a large degree, made profits to defray costs
Less costly than Pennsylvania (because of contract work on outside and congregate inside)
Could produce more
Inmates did not go insane as their was undoubtedly social interaction
Problems that arose
Punishments were quite brutal
Warden was a fan of extreme corporal punishment
No pretense about reform
Though hard work was thought to have some benefit