Since The Middle Of The 20th Century, Prisons And Other Corrections Issues Research Paper

Length: 3 pages Sources: 4 Subject: Criminal Justice Type: Research Paper Paper: #78984314 Related Topics: Prison Overcrowding, 20th Century, Dessert, Corrections
Excerpt from Research Paper :

¶ … corrections models in the United States have changed significantly over the past several generations, from a rehabilitative toward a punitive paradigm. After World War Two, a strong sense of national security and prosperity prevailed in the United States, leading to a corrections system that was based more on rehabilitation than on punishment. During these idealistic times, criminals were believed to be "ill," and correctable via a treatment model ("History and Development of Corrections 1700-Present," n.d.). Trust in governmental institutions also helped politicians and the public alike agree that corrections should be built upon the theory that criminal behavior can be unlearned, or "corrected." The rehabilitation approach persisted well into the 1960s, as humanistic psychology informed corrections models. A humanistic worldview encouraged "deinstitutionalization" of corrections through the use of community-based services like halfway houses and probation ("History and Development of Corrections 1700-Present," n.d.). Sentencing policy during the middle of the 20th century was more likely to include mandatory maximums than minimums, with "indeterminate" sentencing trending in criminal justice (Mackenzie, 2001). Judges enjoyed a high level of discretion when issuing sentences. Programs to help inmates, such as vocational training and reintegration assistance, were established even if they were "often poorly implemented and funded," (Mackenzie, 2001, p. 7). These idealistic times shifted dramatically and radically in the early 1970s.

There are two main reasons why the correctional models changed from rehabilitation toward punishment. One reason is increased pessimism, both in terms of the crime and criminal justice was needed to keep the public safe (Mackenzie, 2001, p. 8). The "war on crime" model evolved from official government reports, leading to a new era in corrections that defined responses to crime throughout the latter half of the 20th century and the early 21st as well. In addition to claims that rehabilitation simply was not working to reduce rates of recidivism or overall rates of crime, critics of the humanistic models of corrections also pointed out that judicial discretion in sentencing tended to favor the wealthy and advantaged classes of society (Mackenzie, 2001). The criminalization of nonviolent drug-related crimes and the politicization of the "war on drugs" also contributed to a shift in correctional policies. As drug-related crimes were reframed as criminal rather than mental health issues, incarceration was offered as a legitimate response. Mass incarceration became the pattern in corrections in the late 20th century.

Limits to judicial discretion have characterized correctional models since the 1980s, when "three strikes" and other "harsh…

Sources Used in Documents:


Christianson, S. (n.d.). Prisons: history. Retrieved online:

"History of American Corrections," (n.d.). In Corrections: A Text/Reader. Retrieved online:

"History and Development of Corrections 1700-Present," (n.d). Retrieved online:

Mackenzie, D.L. (2001). Sentencing and corrections in the 21st century. Retrieved online:
Wagner, P. (2014). Tracking state prison growth in 50 states. Prison Policy Initiative. Retrieved online:

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