Correction Policies in the United States
Throughout the history, punishment was used by society to adjust the people’s behaviour to the conventional norms. Correction is the society’s response to the law violations. It highlights the community’s values through the opposition to the prohibited deeds. Correction comprises of the variety of activities, including imprisonment. For the present-day society, punishment is a subject to many debates, the results and the outcomes of the correctional policies are frequently disputed.
Punishment and protection are the goals of correction that “serve as criteria by which we evaluate correctional work” (Clear, Cole & Reisig, 2013). The first American settlers established their laws according to the values of church and family. The religious diversity caused conflicts among the colonies. Crimes and sins were equal. Fines, banishment, whippings, mutilation, and death were the standard punishment methods in the colonial America (Blomberg & Lucken, 2011).
The penal reforms took place in the 19th century. The industrial and economic development, the population growth and transformation of the society caused the formation of the new judicial policies, based on equality and liberalism. Crime wasn’t regarded as sin anymore but as a threat to the stability of society (Head & Wolcott, 2010). The penalty institutions were regarded by the reformers as rehabilitation entities. At the end of the 19th century, the first education and work programs were adopted in the US prisons. The inmates began to be treated individually, and they had a chance for an early release due to good behaviour. By the midst of the 20th century, along with the individual approach to the treatment, the idea of the inmate’s ability to advance the delinquency-free lifestyle was accepted (Brown et al., 2015).
Crime control is the model that exists in the modern penalty system. The rising crime rates caused the prolongation of the incarceration periods and the tightening of the regulations. During the period of the Crime control model implementation, the crime rates in the country have declined. Nevertheless, some opponents consider that the changes have nothing to do with the policy and are caused by the social change in the United States.
The prisonization is a phenomenon that occurs in the incarceration institutions and represents “assimilation to the criminal values system and the prisoner code of the inmate community” (Papp, 2012). The code reflects the set of criminal values which can be opposed to the social values, and it represents the adaptation of these values by inmates in prison. The prisonization has antisocial nature and often equals to criminality. In the inmate community, prisonization can be observed in the example of the offenders’ attitude toward the prison officials as the representatives of the conventional society.
Correction aims “to reintegrate the offender into society”, and its success is achieved through the “rights-based” approach (Easton, 2011). Though the inmates’ rights are accepted by the Constitution, the multitude of cases makes it clear that the rights are often violated in practice.
One of the most common rights violations is the exclusion of the prisoners from the concept of society. Within the prison, the right must be considered in a practice of improvement of the prison life quality and the participation in the rehabilitation programs. After release, the former inmates shouldn’t be excluded from any rights that the citizens without previous convictions have: rights for education, property and welfare.
The correction policies evolve according to the development of society. Correction in the USA has a long history, and the current situation depicts that the penalty system has improved since time. Nevertheless, the uncertain outcomes of the corrections and the issues of prisoners’ rights violations continue to provoke public controversy. The refinement of the correction institutions must be headed towards the advancement of the Prison Service and the development of the socially included image of current and former prisoners.
Blomberg, T., & Lucken, K. (2011). American Penology: A history of control. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers.
Brown, W., Fritzler, R., Miller, K., & Shelden, R. (2015). Crime and criminal justice in American society. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press.
Clear, T., Cole, F., & Reisig, M. (2013). American corrections. Wadsworth, OH: Cengage Learning.
Easton, S. (2011). Prisoners’ rights: Principles and practice. New York, NY: Routledge.
Head, T., Wolcott, D. (2010). Crime and punishment in America. New York, NY: Infobase Publishing.
Papp, G. (2012). Prisonization and/or criminalisation? Some theoretical considerations and empirical findings. Hungarian Statistical Review, 16(46): 47-66.