The History of State and Federal Prisons

463 Words Jan 28th, 2018 2 Pages
Two models of imprisonment existed during the early stages of the development of the prison system in America. The first was that of the Pennsylvania System, developed in the Quaker state and based upon a model of 'penance' (hence the name penitentiary). Prisoners lived in a state of solitary confinement. They were encouraged to engage in individual reflection and Biblical study to reform their characters (Evolution of NY's prison system, 2012, Correction History: 1). The Auburn System, which began in New York State, was a collectivist system. Prisoners were shackled together and worked to cover the costs of their imprisonment. Work and communal living was thought to be an essential component for prisoner to make up their debt to society and learn social norms. The Auburn System often relied upon brutal punishments. The NY State prison system was later the site of one of the most notorious events in American penal history, the Attica prison riots. The events at Attica brought about calls for prison reform upon a more rehabilitative and restorative model of justice. In this new model, prisoners would learn useful skills and engage in useful actions to repay their debt to society.
On both the state and the federal levels today, the spirit of rehabilitation and restoration coexists with the retributive functions of prisons. It is the stated mission "of Federal Prison Industries, Inc. (FPI) to employ and provide job…