American Corrections

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Thepunitive era came immediately after the reformative period failed towork. It saw the end of the prison industry that was implementedduring the industrial era. As such, the prison managers came back tothe understanding that custody and institutional security were themain reasons for correction facilities. The primary philosophy inthis era was retribution.

Themain weakness associated with this period was the inadequateprovision of services for offenders. It was characterized by ascenario where education, medical treatment and training forcriminals was nearly absent. An example of such a correctionalfacility is the ill-reputed federal penitentiary on Alcatraz Island(Phelps, 2013). The system was also haunted by a belief thatprisoners owed the society hence they had to pay through the prisonlife. Therefore, convicts were treated harshly and denied some of thebasic requirements as punishment for wrongdoing. Furthermore, veryfew innovations took place making the prison life unbearable. Theoverall outcome of the program was more detrimental than beneficialto wrongdoers.

TheStrengths of this era were grounded on the importance of custody andsecurity as one of the core values. This meant that the number ofescapes was minimal. Also, the protection of the incarceratedindividuals was at maximum levels. In this context, security andprotection meant the prevention of interaction with other people andthe subsequent strict restriction of free movement. Prisoners couldnot muster sufficient resources to plan a successful escape due tothe stringent measures put in place (Phelps, 2013).

Thephilosophy of payback justice to the inmates served as a warningsignal to those who thought of participating in a crime. The inmateswere treated in a manner that served as a means of punishing them fortheir deeds. The punitive treatment and uncomfortable surroundingswere effective discouragement to the public against crime, yet apowerful motivation for the inmates to complete their sentencesquickly and resume their lives.


Phelps, M. S. (2013). Rehabilitation in the Punitive Era: The Gap between Rhetoric and Reality in U.S. Prison Programs. Law Society Review, 33-68.

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