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State and Federal Prison System

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State and Federal Prison System

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  • April 24, 2012
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The State and Federal Prison System
Axia College

Both state and federal prison systems have a long history in the United States as well as a significant presence in modern times as the prison populations for both state and federal prisons continue to grow. State and federal prisons each have their own types of institutions and security levels and house different types of criminals due to their differing jurisdictions over state versus federal prisoners. This paper will discuss the state and federal prison systems and their respective histories, recent growth in prisoner populations, different types of facilities, security levels, and types of criminals. American state prisons were originally used as workhouses where prisoners could work off what they owed to the state for their crimes through hard labor, but the purposes for state and federal prisons eventually shifted towards using prisons with the intention of punishment and incapacitating the criminal by removing them from society. Not surprisingly, many of the ideas for the development of the first prisons in the United States came from England. The history of the American prison system began with the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia, which served as the first prototype for the Pennsylvania model for prisons where prisoners worked at tasks in solitary confinement in order to pay off their debt to society and theoretically reflect upon what they had done (Johnston, 2010). The Pennsylvania Model was based on the more humane approach that had earlier been spearheaded by William Penn, a Quaker, and focused on isolating the prisoners and preventing idleness, which was seen as a key factor in recidivism. However, the first prototype prison system in the Walnut Street Jail was not as successful as its designers had hoped and led to a host of problems such as overcrowding and the problem of prisoners being left idle during the day. Despite this, several states...