"The history of correctional thought and practice has been marked by enthusiasm for new approaches, disillusionment with these approaches, and then substitution of yet other tactics"(Clear 59). During the mid 1900s, many changes came about for the system of corrections in America. Once a new idea goes sour, a new one replaces it. Prisons shifted their focus from the punishment of offenders to the rehabilitation of offenders, then to the reentry into society, and back to incarceration. As times and the needs of the criminal justice system changed, new prison models were organized in hopes of lowering the crime rates in America. The three major models of prisons that were developed were the medical, model, the community model, and the crime control model.
The medical model is the model of corrections based on the assumption that criminal behavior is caused by social, psychological, or biological deficiencies that require treatment (Clear 53). This model of corrections aimed at treating the illness of criminals with hopes that once released, the offender will be cured of their ailment and will not re-offend. In 1929, the idea of institutions aimed at rehabilitation as the primary purpose were introduced into America. It was thought that this would be easy to achieve because prisons already existed and the only adjustment would be to add programs to diagnose and treat patients. In theory this model seemed to be a perfect solution. Unfortunately, this program was unsuccessful in the long run because of budget problems and the lack of proper testing.
This model of corrections had an excellent goal in helping criminals to recover from whatever caused them to commit crimes. The positive side of this program is twofold. First the program would help the ill to recover and secondly it was supposed to stop the criminal from re-offending. Although this program seems to be a great idea there are also downfalls to the idea. The main problem with this program is how you would evaluate the persons illness. For example, if someone was caught stealing or selling drugs, how do you determine that they have some sort of fixable problem or illness? Maybe they were just hungry or wanted money and there is nothing wrong with them that can be treated psychologically. Another example of a problem with this system is how would be how to examine when a serial killer was considered mentally ready to reenter society and not re-offend. Some people may not have a psychological disorder that put them in prison and others may never recover from their illness. This program is a good idea if combined with other forms of punishment as well.
The next big idea in the system of corrections was the idea of the community model. This model was created during the 1960s after movements such as the Civil Rights Movement, the war on poverty, and the resistance to the Vietnam war showed that social and political values have a major impact on the criminal justice system. The community model of corrections was based on the assumption that the criminal justice system should aim at reintegrating the offender into the community(Clear 56). This model of corrections focused on alternatives to incarceration such as probation or parole. Officials felt that prisons were to be avoided because they were artificial institutions that interfered with the offender's ability to develop a crime free lifestyle(Clear 56). Many thought that incarceration was a negative influence on criminals because it took away the skills needed to successfully become a part of society once released.
Under this program, an offender would work with a counselor to find a job, and money so that they were not left to the streets. When their sentence was up, they may be put in a half way house for monitoring how well they were adapting to society. This system failed during the 1970s when determinate sentencing was reestablished. The idea may have been more of a success if it had been adequately...
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