History of pillory (a wooden frame that had holes

History of Prisons in the United States:From the time of the American Revolution (1775-83) until the early part of the twentieth century, pieces of the American Criminal Justice system was coming together to include police, courts, and prisons officials. No distinctive American legal system was developed; criminal codes, punishments, and courts varied from colony to colony. A reform movement took place in the mid 1700’s to create a more unified justice system. The colonists victory over Britain brought independents a new justice system that provided protection. The first several decades following the revolution were an experimental period in criminal justice. The Quakers in Pennsylvania took an early lead in replacing incarceration for execution. Prisons were among the first public buildings constructed in the new world. Beginning in 1787, Pennsylvania became the first of the United States to make solitary confinement for incarcerated convicts. It focused on putting the inmates to hard labor, still maintaining some degree of public humiliation where the civilians could watch the inmates. Philadelphia became the center for criminal reform in the United States when the first prison reform organization was formed. The Philadelphia society for alleviating the miseries of public prisons, supported “treating a prisoner’s problems over physical punishment” (law.org). In 1970, Philadelphia opened a sixteen cell jail called the Walnut Street Jail. A jail warden assigned each inmate one of four categories of offender; categories A-D, depending on the risks the offender can cause and the need of the offender.. Each inmate entered solitary confinement supplied with a Bible to speed their rehabilitation. They thought the supply of Bibles would alter the inmate into being a better citizen once released. Better reforms and changes started to occur. When the Massachusetts state prison opened in 1805, the state eliminated whipping, branding, and use of pillory (a wooden frame that had holes for heads and hands). A movement to build more state prisons grew through the 1820s and 1830s. This allowed the replacement of various forms of physical punishment to decrease. Opinions of the new American prison system varied. French travelers, Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville favored the usage of physical punishment whereas Charles Dickens, a famous British novelist, found the experience of visiting the Philadelphia prison horrifying. Usually, the state prisons had different forms of incarceration, local and county jails remained how they were before. The location of prisons was also the big factory when based on the quality; rural areas were poorly run and filthy. America’s Prison System: Prisons in the united states have three basic objectives: punishing a criminal by taking away time, removing the criminal from society, and rehabilitating inmates to become functional member of society upon their release. To many people, the word prison means a place where personal freedom is restricted as punishment for committing a crime. The word ‘Prison’ to someone who has served hard time means so much more. It’s a place where dignity, privacy and control is surrendered over to guards and the prison administration; a place where necessities feel like luxury. Prisons serve as a safeguard, where all the dangerous people are kept from society so they do not end up committing more crimes. In some cases, prisons rehabilitate criminals so they can weave back into society with an improved education and new outlook. U.S prisons are broken down into three basic levels of security: maximum, medium and minimum. Minimum security prison resemble camps or college campuses. They are reserved for non-violent offenders with low criminal records. A medium security prison restricts the daily movements of the inmates, but instead of cells they usually have dormitories and the prison is enclosed by a razor-wire fence. Maximum security prisons are what most people think of when they think of a prison. However, only a quarter of all prisoners in the United States are in a maximum security facility. Maximum security prisons are reserved for violent offenders, those who have escaped or inmates who could cause problems in the lower security prisons. They are surrounded by high walls topped with a razor wire, and armed guards who monitor to prevent an escape.Statistics: There are 2.2 million people in the nations prisons and jails- a 500% increase over the last 40 years. Changes in law and policy is what is causing the sudden increase. Negatives like overcrowding in prisons is the result of mass incarceration. A series of law enforcement and sentencing policy changes of the “tough on crime” era resulted in dramatic growth in incarceration. Since the beginning of the War on Drugs Campaign in 1982, the number of people incarcerated for drug offenses in the U.S skyrocketed “from 40,900 in 1980 to 469,545 in 2015” (sentencingproject.org). Today, there are more people in prison for a drug offense than the number of people in jail or prison for any crime in 1980. Although there was a massive increase in drug offenses, there was also an increase of people sentenced for property and violent crimes even during the times when crime rates declined. Harsh sentencing laws like mandatory minimums, keep people in prison for a longer time. The National Research Council reported “that half of 222% growth in the state prison population between 1980 and 2010 was due to an increase of time served in prison for all offenses”(NRC). There has also been a rise in the use of life sentences: one in nine people in prison is now serving a life sentence and one third sentenced to life without parole.The Racial Impact of Mass Incarceration:Implicit racial bias, sentencing policies and socio-economic equality contribute to racial disparities at every level of the Criminal Justice System. Overall, African Americans are more likely to be arrested than a white American; once arrested they are more likely to be convicted; and once convicted they are more likely to get a harsher sentence than a white American. Today, people of color make up 37% of the United States population but 67% make up the prison population. Black men “are six times as likely to face stiff sentences as white me and Hispanic men are more than twice as likely to be incarcerated as non-Hispanic white men” (Bureau of Justice Statistics). The racial inequality in the prison stayers is evident when it comes to things like racial bias. Mass Incarceration and Public Safety:Incarceration has minimum impact when it comes to lowering crime rates. The National Research Council concluded that while prison growth was a factor in reducing crime, “the magnitude of the crime reduction remains highly uncertain and the evidence suggests it was unlikely to have been large” (NRC). Incarceration is ineffective at reducing certain crimes like youth crimes because when people get locked up, they are usually replaced by others on the street seeking an income or struggling with an addiction. Another reason why it is ineffective is because people tend to “age out” of crime. Crime starts to peak in the late teens and declines in their mid 20’s. The excessive sentencing practices in the United States are counterproductive and costly.


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