Prison Systems CJS/230 March 28, 2010 Axia College of the University of Phoenix In the United States of America, there are several different types of incarceration facilities that criminal offenders, both convicted and accused my end up. The two most distinguishable different facilities post-conviction are the state prison systems and the federal bureau of prisons. These units house a wide array of criminals, from the lowest of low scum to the high profile “Hannibal Lector” types.
The range of crimes is equally different, from sexual offences and aggravated murder charges all of the way down to so called white collar crimes and too many DWI’s. In short, the intricate designs and diversity contribute to an experience all to its own. First of all, we are going to discuss state prisons. They are exactly what they sound like – a prison that is run by the state that the jurisdiction falls under. It is said that the bulk of the one million-plus felons that reside in the United States are housed in state ran correctional institutions (Foster, 2006).
According to Newsweek columnist Dahlia Lithwick, “The United States, with 5 percent of the world’s population, houses nearly 25 percent of the world’s prisoners” (Lathwick 2009). Although the basic standards have been set and put forth by the American Correctional Association or ACA for short, the states have different laws and regulations that may vary from state to state. For examples, some states allow capital punishment, while others do not. The prisons within the states also depend on the specific needs of the offender, as well as custody levels, which we will get into further later on in the writing.
The general purpose of a prison is to confine felons to a term that was set during their trial as a punishment for the type of conviction that they have received for a committed crime. Their length of stay may depend on several things, including parole, behavior, crime-type and state laws that vary. The history begins with people trying to find a more humane punishment for criminals several hundred years ago, and is still developing to this very day. They began as an isolated punishment from criminals and then developed into places with better lighting and ability for guarded supervision.
Over the years, they went from labor intensive models, to working models, doing community services among other things. They also had developed types of penal institutions that facilitated factory labor, such as license plates, and agriculture unites that grow things. Some of these practices are still used today. For example, they make road signs and have food farms in Texas for both agriculture produce and livestock alike. Panopticon was a prison with light from the top due to the glass roof. This was proposed by a man named Jeremy Bentham.
The Pennsylvania and Auburn model penitentiaries became the easiest and most popular types due to the economical and financial ease. Industrial prisons were perfected in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, and then stepped down in popularity to the agriculture prison, or prison farm. Also, work camps did public works projects. Today’s prisons typically have five different custody levels (or a combination of). You have maximum security units, which are heavily secured and more isolated with far less offender movement then the lower custody upgrades.
This is sometimes referred to as closed custody, or administrative segregation. You also have close-high-security prisons. This is close to the high risk, but gives a little bit more freedom within the unit’s confines. Medium-risk offenders typically see newer units with double fences and a higher guard-to-inmate ration. According to Foster (2006), about thirty-five percent of offenders fall into this category. From there, you have the minimum security prisons. Smaller prisons with fewer internal controls and a larger ration to guards and inmates dictate these facilities.
Finally, you have what is commonly known as trustees, or open-security facilities. They hardly resemble prisons, and typically don’t even have locked doors or fences to confine the inmates. Other prison types include the infamous super-max unit that holds the most evil and deadly of inmates to the highest custody level possible and special housing units with security conditions similar to super-max farms, but house disciplinary offenders for shorter periods rather then long-term. There are many differences in the state prison systems out there.
For example, custody levels, as previously mentioned, are typically governed by the crime that the criminal has committed and the security threat that they are classified as having. They also have to keep in mind that there are rules that must be followed, and as such, the frequency and severity of the infractions, usually called “good time”, can lower or raise the level of custody. You also have to take into consideration the types of units out there and their purpose in order to adequately describe the variances.
Some are meant to educate and rehabilitate, as well as others are designed to progressively prepare offenders for re-entry into society. You also have units that are designed to produce and do work, or create food for the prison system, and others that are designed solely to segregate the problem-offenders from the rest of the general population. There are several differences, but in contrast, they all have several things in common. For starters, they are housing felons. Security and punishment is a common denominator. Federal prisons were established by Congress in 1930.
Some things in consideration are unit management, mandatory literacy, gender-neutral employment, family culture and legal standards. The criminal types are those that have been convicted in Federal court for a multiplicity of crimes, ranging from white collar to extremely violent. They have minimum, low, medium, high and administrative maximum security levels. The conditions are typically better then state prison, and have a greater budget to work with. Being in prison is not meant to be fun. Criminals reside in state and federal prisons because they did something that is illegal.
As such, they are punished, and the type of crime usually dictates the level of custody. Some units can help you become more educated, while others will lock you in a cell and allow you do “hard time”. One thing is for sure; prison is constantly developing, and will be every changing forever. References Foster, B. (2006). Corrections: The Fundamentals. Prentice-Hall, 123(5). Retrieved on March 28, 2010 using the University of Phoenix database. Lithwick, D. (5 June, 2009). Pour Real Prison Problem. Newsweek, June 2009 Issue, pg 1(4).