Prison in America

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PRISON IN AMERICA

Since the beginning of time there has been good and evil, as man developed modern society he found that a need existed to separate the bad from the good. Society needed to find a way to protect the weak and defenseless citizens from the dangers of mankind. The use of confinement to punish offenders began in Europe in the early eighteen century. The concept of incarcerating offenders for long periods of time as a way of punishment for crimes is fairly new development in America. (McShane, Williams 1996) Before 1770’s with a few exceptions serious offenders received fines, corporal punishment, death, and banishment, but they were not incarcerated as a form of punishment. (McShane, Williams 1996) Jails were made to only hold people awaiting trail and minor offenses. This was in accordance with Puritan views that man was born into sin and punishment was God’s way of dealing with sin and evil deeds. This type of thinking was thrown out due to changing ways of criminal behavior. Now enter the modern institution designed to deal with this new breed of criminal behaviors. The first prison in America is supposed to be the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia (1790) There is however another, an abandoned copper mine in Connecticut which was converted into a prison. In 1773 Newgate prison accepted its first inmate by the 1820’s it was closed due to rising costs. (McShane, Williams 1996) This was the first institution designed to incarcerate offenders with five categories of serious offenders: robbers, burglars, forgers, counterfeiters and horse thieves. Later on murderers, prisoners of war and political prisoners were housed at Newgate. This was the first prison in America to use confinement as punishment for committed offenses. According to David Rothman “the development of incarceration as a general solution to deviance could be explained…...

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