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The History of Incarceration in the United States. The Use of Private Prisons to Incarcerate Prison Inmates - Essay Example

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The United States prison system saw its early beginnings during the 18th century when the Congregate System was introduced as a method by which to house citizens who were accused of crimes in a separate place from the regular citizens. …
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The History of Incarceration in the United States. The Use of Private Prisons to Incarcerate Prison Inmates
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Download file to see previous pages Since this was the time of the plantation era of our society, it was deemed wise to make use of the prisoners as manual laborers in the factories and plantations. Originated in Auburn, New York, the Congregate System prisoners were expected to live their incarcerated lives dedicated to penance and contemplation since society placed a high value on religious beliefs being the basis for forgiveness of sins.
Due to the failure of the Congregate System in terms of helping incarcerated men and women reform and help them lead better lives after leaving prison, the Congregate system had to give way to a new method of incarceration known as the Reformatory Prison (Johnson, Dobrankza & Palla, 2005). This type of incarceration was used to help produce truly reformed citizens who would become part of the socially acceptable era of disciplined gentlemen and ladies. The men were made to participate in military drills in case they were needed to help fight wars, and women were taught the norms of housekeeping and social decorum. (p.6) Both were expected to become productive parts of the new society once they were released back into the general population of the time.
However, both the Congregate and Reformatory systems proved to be ill effective in their incarceration methods. Neither method actually provided truly reformed inmates who could be released into mainstream society and be expected to be of any beneficial use to the public. Instead, they always fell back on their old ways and ended up incarcerated yet again. Such dismal failures were the Congregate System and Reformatory Systems that both methods were discontinued and a new type of incarceration was introduced. This became known as the era of the “Big House”. This was the era of remarkable economic and social growth for the United States thanks to the advent of the rail road. The prisoners, worked as part of “Chain Gangs” and participated in most of the construction work that the government was undertaking at the time.
Remember, this was in the 1930's so our society was beginning to come into its own as part of a highly progressive and modernizing nation. Since our society had a need for male professionals in the workplace and the women were the epitome of housekeeping success, it made sense to use prisoners for the menial and hard labor jobs whenever possible. The Big House can be considered to be the first successful incarceration system in the United States that employed Corporal Punishment to any prisoner who refused to reform. Although considered to be a drastic punishment, the Corporal punishment worked wonders on the prisoners who were successfully reformed. However, even with those punishments in place, the Big House was still a more humane and effective method when it came to helping reform the incarcerated. This is attributed to the fact that the incarcerated Big House members were given a sense of freedom while in the prison and submitting to the will of the prison administrators. Thus allowing the incarcerated who truly wanted to reform a chance to mend their ways by proving their worth to society in their government assigned places of work like the “Chain Gangs” of the railroad tracks. (p.9). The early era incarceration system placed too much value on the norms of the outside world for it to be truly effective in reforming the prisoners. They neglected to recognize that while the person is in prison, he would be moving in a different kind of society. One that would dictate whether he survived to see his ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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