Purpose and History
What is the purpose of having penitentiaries in our country? What is the history of the penitentiary? What is punishment and what is its history? How have prisons developed? What is the Pennsylvania system? What is the Auburn system? What is the impact and involvement of prison labor over time? What is the process of corrections? What is a penitentiary? What is the mission of corrections? Let’s first begin with what punishment means. Punishment is the infliction or imposition of a penalty as retribution for an offense.
While completing my research I was able to stumble across two definitions that caught my attention. The general definition for punishment is “aversive stimulus that follows an undesirable behavior, and is intended to decrease or eliminate the occurrence of that behavior. It may be triggered either due to the performance of an undesirable act (negligence) or the non-performance of a desirable act (disobedience). Punishments take the form of presentation of an unpleasant stimulus (criticism or warning) or withdrawal of a pleasant one (employment or promotion).
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Threat of punishment usually also constitutes a punishment”. The definition of punishment pertaining to the law is “Confinement, fine, penalty, sanction, or loss of a privilege, property, or right, assessed and administered as deterrence or retribution by an authorized court to an entity duly convicted of violating the law of the land”. [ (Buisness Dictionary, 2013) ] Punishments must be adequate match the reasons why the crimes were committed. History shows that Cesare Beccarua who was an Italian theorist, first suggested linking crime causation to punishments in the eighteenth century.
He is known as the founder of the Classical School of criminology. The classical School is the theory linking crime causation to punishment, based on offenders’ free will and hedonism. During the early years of punishment, the punishments that were being inflicted were brutal and outright inhumane. Some of the punishments that were inflicted in the early stages of punishment were Stocks, Pillory, whipping post, ducking stool, ducking stool, fines, binding out, and capital punishment. [ (Colionial Punishment, 2013) ] Punishments have become less severe as certain eras called for reform.
Prisons, how did they start and where did they arise from? What is the history and development of prisons? Before the 1700’s prisons really did not exist. Prisons were never really considered a form of punishment. Capital punishment started to become inhumane and there needed to be a new less inhumane way of punishing criminals. Authorities punished most offenders in public in order to discharge people from breaking the law. English and French rulers kept their enemies and criminals in prisons like the Tower of London and the Bastille in Paris.
Due to the criticism of executions, mutilations, and harsh punishments this called for the early beginning of the early prison reform. In 1785, the United States signed the first treaty calling for fair treatment for prisoners of war. Early prison reform called for separating prisoners. Theory was that if they had time to themselves, they would see the error of what they did. That was the hopes of early prisoners which would call for them to be reformed. In the 1900’s, reforms led to further improvement of prisons.
Prisons began to develop rehabilitation programs based on the background, personality and physical conditions of the inmate. This gave inmates that were not doing serious time hope for a somewhat better future. It allowed them to stay busy and out of trouble while they were incarcerated. Although this seemed to be a very good solution to a growing problem, this system had its flaws. It was said that the attempts to rehabilitate offenders had disappointing results. The failure was due to poorly trained staff, the lack of funds for each program, and the lack of details in their goals.
By the mid 1960’s many Americans felt that criminals could be helped outside of prison. This cause many countries to set up community correctional centers and halfway houses. These centers were set up for offenders who were near the end of their prison sentences. It was intended to help set the offenders up for life outside of prison and held them accountable for their actions. Prisons today are defiantly different than the prisons of the early ages. Prisons that were once built to hold one inmate per cell now hold two to even three inmates. [ (Stop the Crime, 2013) ]This allows for room for criminals.
Although building prisons to house more criminals is set out to be a positive move, it does hold its own problems. Some of the problems that arise are low funds for the prisons, overcrowding, and even out numbering the guards which harms them. Prisons have come a long way since they first built. Prisons continue to build and house many criminals. Although tax payers do pay for the housing of criminals, I see that as a good thing. It allows there to be a place where criminals can spend their time. It takes away their privileges that they once have. What is the Pennsylvania system and what is the Auburn system?
What are the differences between the two systems? The Pennsylvania system is the “separate and silent” system of prison operations that emphasizes on reformation and avoidance of criminal contamination. Pennsylvania opened its first two prisons where were the Western State Penitentiary in Pittsburgh in 1862 and the Eastern State Penitentiary in Cherry Hill Philadelphia in 1829. The Western Penitentiary was an architectural nightmare that was built in an octagon with small, dark cells built in cellblocks. This would ensure that prisoners were confined to themselves and their cells.
There was minimal lighting and an adequate amount of space to allow labor for the inmate. The bases of these two prisons were the same as the Walnut Street Jail. They were built to emphasize the opportunity for prisoners to reform themselves through hard work while reflecting on their crimes. Through this approach, it was believed that offenders would not be morally contaminated and be trained in crime by other prisoners. One of the problems with this system was almost impossible to keep inmates from seeing and communicating with each other.
Another problem with the system was the funding. It began to become very expense to house single cells with only one inmate in them. Another problem with the system was the fact that productivity was extremely low due to the fact that inmates had to work alone because of limited space. The Auburn system became known as the “congregate and silent” system. With this system, the ones in charge continued to reduce the spread of criminal ideas by inmates through silence and strict discipline. The Auburn system was the silent operations.
This meant that inmates were allowed to work together during the day but had to stay separate and silent during all other times. As time progressed, this system proved to be the better of the two. This system was later adopted by one of New York’s prisons. These prisons were cheaper to build and operate. This system allowed production of goods and more income for the state, and fewer inmates developed mental health problems. During the first half of the 1900’s, the Auburn system proved to work well for Americans.
The system that instilled silence, hard labor, separation at night congregation during the day to maximize production of goods was the new approach. Crime, punishment, criminals, and prisons all tie in together. Without crime we would not have the other three elements that are listed. The system of corrections and prisons has proved to work for Americans. It allows our world to try and live free of crime. It shows criminals that their crimes will not go unpunished. In conclusion, if you do the crime, you should be expected to do the time.
Buisness Dictionary. (2013, January 02). Retrieved from http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/punishment.html
Colionial Punishment. (2013, january 02). Retrieved from http://score.rims.k12.ca.us/score_lessons/colonial_court/html/colonial.html
Stop the Crime. (2013, January 02). Retrieved from http://www.stoptheaca.org/