Jails & Prisons

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Jails are the washbasins of the correctional system. They are the oldest of the correctional components and yet it still has a difficult mission and role while having to be diverse. Jails hold a variety of inmates, those who have been arrested, detained pending trial, sentenced to short terms of confinement for minor crimes, and those being held for administrative transfer to another unit. These facilities face issues such as dealing with unknown offenders, managing medical problems and detoxifications and still provide the court with security and transportation for inmates. Jails were first created in England and originally used in detaining offenders who were awaiting trial. These jails were used to house the poor, and occasionally the mentally ill. The early jails had miserable conditions to contend with such as filth, violence, poor food, and very little medical care. To counter this, the Penitentiary Act was drafted. It created four requirements for jails: safe, sanitary conditions, routine and systematic inspections, inmates were no longer charged fees to be there, and it became mandatory for inmates to be confined to their cells but to be out in the common areas during the day. This act also detailed the requirements for diets, hygiene and uniforms for the inmates (University of Phoenix, 2011). Early jails in the United States followed the English model and were used primarily to house those inmates that were awaiting trial. The typical punishment for a crime was a fine. Those too poor to pay were confined until they worked off their debt. These were called workhouses and the inmates were typically held at the jail. Jails continued to house pretrial inmates and by the end of the nineteenth century, almost every United States city had constructed and operated a jail for this purpose. The state and federal prison systems are alike in the concept that they both keep those who are accused and found guilty incarcerated and away from the public....
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