Prison Reform Movement

Topics: Prison, Penology, Criminal justice Pages: 3 (1117 words) Published: January 1, 2013
nPrison Reform Movement
Messiah, Katherine, Ezequiel, Nancy and Christopher
Prison Reform- The attempt to improve conditions inside prison aiming at a more effective penal system Prisons have only been used as the primary punishment for criminal acts in the last couple of centuries. Far more common earlier were various types of corporal punishment, public humiliation, penal bondage, and banishment for more severe offences, as well as capital punishment. United States- In colonial America, punishments were severe. The Massachusetts assembly in 1736 ordered that a thief, on first conviction, be fined or whipped. The second time he was to pay treble damages, sit for an hour upon the gallows platform with a noose around his neck and then be carted to the whipping post for thirty stripes. For the third offense he was to be hanged.[4] But the implementation was haphazard as there was no effective police system and judges wouldn't convict if they believed the punishment was excessive. The local jails mainly held men awaiting trial or punishment and those in debt. In the aftermath of independence most states amended their criminal punishment statutes. Pennsylvania eliminated the death penalty for robbery and burglary in 1786, and in 1794 retained it only for first degree murder. Other states followed and in all cases the answer to what alternative penalties should be imposed was incarceration. Pennsylvania turned its old jail at Walnut Street into a state prison. New York built Newgate state prison in Greenwich Village and other states followed. But by 1820 faith in the efficacy of legal reform had declined as statuatory changes had no discernable effect on the level of crime and the prisons, where prisoners shared large rooms and booty including alcohol, had become riotous and prone to escapes. The American prison system was shaken by a series of riots in the early 1950s triggered by deficiencies of prison facilities, lack of hygiene or medical care, poor food...
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