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Prison Comparison Contrast Paper

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Prison Comparison Contrast Paper
Cynthia Willison
December 13, 2010
Justina Smith

Prison Comparison Contrast Paper Today prisons are viewed to be instruments of punishment with the loss of freedom that is considered as a result of society’s retribution for the crimes the offenders have committed. However, incarceration was not always this form of punishment, in the 18th century different types of corporal punishment that involved infliction of pain on the human body. Corporal punishments included whipping, beating, branding, mutilation, and other types of physical punishments. Most punishments during the eighteenth-century were held in public. Executions were elaborate and shocking affairs, designed to act as a deterrent to those who watched. The 1700s were considered the colonial period and no true legal system existed within the United States at the time until the American Revolution. Many felons were transported to the American colonies where they will serve out their sentences in hard labor. Long-term prison sentences in Houses of Correction (prison) were also more widely imposed toward the end of the century (The British Library, n.d.). Prison is a term describing the facilities used to incarcerate convicted individuals and penitentiary describes the type of building. The debate to inaugurate penitentiaries instead of prisons began in the eighteenth century in England with the idea to replace corporal punishment with imprisonment with the prospects of reforming the mind and body. These transformations of the penitentiaries had a positive result throughout the world and the rest of Europe (Jackson, 1997). The theory started in 1787 when a group of well-known Philadelphians expressed their concerns of the conditions of the American and European prisons. Dr. Benjamin Rush, Father of American Psychiatry, proposed the idea to build a true penitentiary, designed to create genuine regret and penitence, which took 30 years to convince the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to start building (U.S. History, 2010). In 1822 John Haviland, British architect, designs and manages the construction of the Eastern State Penitentiary, which incorporated the principles of Quaker information. The purpose of the penitentiary is aid in both spiritual and not religious, and to maintain humane punishment and refrain from the physical punishment that has occurred in the Western societies. Provide a clean and healthy institution and environment to prevent contamination of the body, mind, and spirit (Foster, 2006). Furthermore, the inmates in custody were separated from each other, total isolation with all the required amenities such as a working toilet, running water, and central heat. The only possession the inmates are to have is a Bible to learn the word of God and participate in honest hard work, such as shoemaking, weaving, etc. that will guide the inmate to penitence, and a skylight to allow the light from heaven to shine inside the cells (U.S. History, 2010). North of New York city two penitentiary models were in the process of development the Auburn and Sing Sing before Eastern State Penitentiary was completed. Auburn is designed to keep convicts separate and unable to communicate with each other even as they were forced to labor as penal slaves. Industry, obedience, and silence were the guiding principles of the new system (Law Jrank, 2010). Sing Sing penitentiary rule of silence would cause the inmate to regret his wrongdoings and assist in his rehabilitation it was also thought to yield a perfect discipline and order. A corresponding logic applied to the lockstep, a way of' marching in which the inmates followed each other as closely as possible in a silent, rigid, and seemingly mindless fashion (Prison Talk, 2010). The inmates had their own cells; however, ate meals and participated in mandatory labor with complete silence enforced by the guards. The penitentiary systems were to rehabilitate the prisoners whereas each had their separate supporters.
During the Great Depression the federal and state prison incarceration rate spiked to 139 per 100,000 in 1939, and then it quickly dropped after the start of World War II. Young troubled men and paroled convicts were offered two options either to serve time in prison or enter the military performing military duty. December 1941 the Prison Industrial Branch of the War Production Board (WPB) was established to manage the output of industrial and agricultural by the state and federal prisons (Foster, 2006). The state production consisted of assault boats, shell cases, bomb crates and noses, cargo nets, boiler suits, stretchers, etc. The federal prisons were in charge of the penal war effort, penitentiary built Army patrol boats, and the women at Alderson sewed flag and volunteered at the Red Cross. All prisons had a part in some type of production for the war. In 1942 the WBP estimated only a third of production completed; however in 1943 the state political officials elaborated how important productions was and the federal restrictions were modified and production soared each prison estimated about $25 million. Half of the prisons were often praised for their patriotism, their can do attitude, and acknowledged for excellence in production (Foster, 2006).
Unfortunately, after the war the prisons dwindled from the public view. Imprisonment and unemployment increased and incarceration steadily rises in the decades to come. In the 1970s incarceration continued to raise rapidly then incarceration rate exceeded the Depression era peak in 1980 and continued to rise and set a record of 3.5 times than the Great Depression, which grown to 476 per 100,00 (“Prisons and Executions--The U.S. Model: A Historical Introduction,” 2001). Economic stagnation is one main reason incarceration continued to rise well into the 1990s and along with the skyrocketing increase of incarceration and less amount of guards in the prison facility violence became a major problem. Guards were attacked by inmates, and inmates attack other inmates, guards and wardens were held hostage, injured or killed by prisoners with guns, knives, and homemade weapons as a result from built-up tension, escape attempts happen frequently and some were successful. Tension also played a role in prison riots throughout the 1950s and an occasional riot up to the present 2009 (Foster, 2006).
The animosity was ignored between labor unions and prisons during the war, union cards were issued to the parolees to work in the industries and serve as merchant seamen. World War II gave the prisoners an opportunity to show the public that they were more than willing to help when the country was in a crisis and the prison system self-esteem and morale was thriving. World War II was virtuous for prison labor with the steadily increased output of industrial and agricultural. The free individuals were relaxed during war time because the barriers were removed unfortunately the barriers were in place once the war ended in 1945 (Foster, 2006).
Today labor is the center of the daily routine and discipline in penitentiaries (prisons). Prisoners participate in maintenance work in the prison and the prison farm. Federal and state laws have excluded prison-made goods (weapons) to protect free labor. The prisoners stay occupied when the labor production is inadequate so there are less tension, fights, and riots. Many states have adopted the labor system, which merchandises are produced at the prison that can only be sold to state agencies. Prison labor has expanded to road and public construction, and labor camps (How Stuff Works, 2010).

Foster, B. (2006). Corrections: The Fundamentals. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.
How Stuff Works. (2010). Prisons. Retrieved from
Jackson, N. (n.d.). Incarcerated: The History of the Penitentiary from 1776-Present. Retrieved from
Law Jrank. (2010). Prisons: History-The Auburn Plan. Retrieved from
Prison Talk. (2010). New York Prison-Sing Sing. Retrieved from
Prisons and Executions—The U.S. Model: A Historical Introduction. (2001). An Independent Socialist Magazine, 53(3), 1-15. doi: MasterFILE Premier database
The British Library. (n.d.). Crime and Punishment. Retrieved from
U.S. History. (2010). Eastern State Penitentiary. Retrieved from

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