History and Development of Corrections 1700-Present

History and Development of Corrections from 1700 - Present


Early punishments included transportation, indentured servitude and economic sanctions, public humiliation, pillory, stocks and ducking stools.


Two very famous prisons wereThe Hospice of San Michele and the Maison de Force in Ghent, Belgium.
Inmates were whipped and had to adhere to the rule of silence. These prisons were considered to be ideal models of the prison institution at the time.


John Howard was a Christian activist who fought for prison reform. He inspected jails in order to ensure that prisoners received humane treatment.


Gaols/Jails were very small with few inmates. These institutions operated on a fee system.


With the help of Quakers, he worked to improve conditions for prisoners housed in in the "Walnut Street Jail" in Philadelphia.


Jerry Bentham was founder of the British Utilitarianism movement which suggested that laws should be evaluated to ensure that they are ethical and useful. He designed a model prison which was referred to as the "Panopticon".

1800 - Present

Parole began at the end of the 1800s. When it was instituted, many prisoners were already receiving clemency, pardons and early release for good behavior. Parole began with reformatories but spread to all prisons.


Fry worked to improve conditions for women who were imprisoned.


Eastern State Penitentiary was built on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Prisoners were in solitary confinement. This model was referred as an isolate system. The solitary confinement and penance would lead to rehabilitation of prisoners. Prisoners were also given a work detail which consisted of hanidcrafts.


A congregate system was used. A rule of silence was enforced to keep the prisoners from corrupting one another.
Strict control and severed discipline was common.
Whipping was common.


This was the first separate female prison. Before instituting the first female prison, women were housed with men. They also received the same punishment as men. For that reason, women were preyed upon by both inmates and prison guards. In the early female prisons, women were often housed in cottages. The conditions for women in state prisons remained the same. They were subject to abuse and often required to endure long hours of hard labor.


This was a prison system designed to house young men. It was believed that younger prisoners were capable of rehabilitation. An academic program was put in place and athletics was encouraged. The silent system was not used. A rewards system was used. Corporal punishment was used to control behavior.

1878 - Present

John Augustus was a humble shoemaker who advocated for fair treatment of criminals. He would house offenders who were sentenced to prison. After helping them get back on their feet, he would go to court with them. If their probationary program was satisfactory, the original sentence was suspended. The acutal legal statute for probation was passed first by Massachussets in 1878. Probation still exists today as a community based correction model.


In an effort to meet the demands of the increasing prison population, the industrial prisons emerged. These prisons had heightend security via high brick walls and guard towers. Prisoners worked with steel, made cabinets and other goods to be sold on the market.


A special court for under age offenders was established. This type of court was informal and the goal was for young offenders to be rehabilitated. Vocational and academic programs were encouraged. Judges were expected to avoid custody if possible.


This law put limits on prison manufacturing. The interstate transportation of goods made in prisons was prohibited. This resulted in a decrease of industrial prisons.


The nation was economically secure. During this postwar boom, there was an interest to reform prisons. After conducting research, it was determined that a "medical model" should be used in the prison system. Prisoners were considered ill and the cure would be rehabilitation through treatment.


A more humanistic approch was invisioned. The community base approach would help the inmate and it would help solve the problem of overcrowding prisons. Inmates took part in half-way houses and job release programs. Some were even allowed week end furloughs to visit family and loved ones.


After many studies showed that efforts to rehabilitate criminals were failing miserably, it was evident that a new approach should be used. This led to the "nothing works" doctrine. The new approach would be to simply put criminals away so they would no longer be a menace to society. This is when the term "warehousing" began to surface. Prisoners were put away for determined periods of time without the earlier frills of treatment and "coddling".

1995 - Present

The "just deserts" doctrine goes back to the basics. Prisoners are held responsible for their actions.There is no attempt to explain away their criminality. If a person commits a crime, they will pay. This plain and simple approach emerged because of the embarrising recidivism rates. One study showed it was high as 70%.