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prison history

In your mind, how has prison history shaped our view of the correction system? Was de Tocqueville correct?

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Many believe that the idea of rehabilitating offenders began around the 1960's with welfare programs being expanded. It was in fact in the 19th Century when the "Asylum" was discovered that the main purpose was translated to be to "save," not just punish offenders. In the asylums to which offenders were banished they would be tortured or executed. Jails were simply houses where the offenders awaited trial and most often the jailer and his family lived there. It was in the 1820's, the first days of the American prison, that the "penitentiary" was invented. (Cullen, F. 2006)
By the 1820's, it is suggested by some, that prisons reflected the "progress of civilization' (Cullen 2006), moving away from the barbarism of disfiguring the offender, but rescuing them, but that does not explain why, then, they did not emerge earlier. Alex de Tocqueville (1840) that social control in a monogamous society had been similar to that of a father whose family depended entirely on the patriarch for their sustenance until his death, but that society was [then] at the point where sons became independent much earlier. He maintained that the mobility in a democracy prevented the establishment of a code of behavior. "The degree of inequality in general also explains many kinds of behavior (de Tocqueville, 1840)." There is something to be said for Sahlins' (1958) comments that ". . . in traditional Polynesia, etiquette between chief and commoner increased with the stratification of a society (Black, 1976; Sahlins, 1958)." Obviously our republic has established codes of behavior by state and/or nation and, more to the point, had there not been crime in aristocracies there would have not been the necessity of the "stockade" and pillories.
On the other hand, David Rothman (1971) has a couple of different theories about when and why prisons emerged and were geared toward reforming the offender. With the growth of society in the 1820's there was more diversity and movement and people felt that it was becoming disorderly. Where they had ...

Solution Summary

This solution traces how prison history shaped our view of the correction system and uses de Tocqueville as a lens.