14 JUL 2010
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. 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.
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...