The Prison System

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Final Exam Essay Question #2
Question: Discuss the history of the prison system in the United States. Be sure to identify the various stages that the American prison system has gone through. Also identify what problems were present with each stage as you see them.


American prison system incarceration was not officially used as the main form of punishment in United States (U.S.) until around the 1800’s. Before that time criminals were mainly punished by public shaming, which involved punishments such as being whipped, or branded (HL, 2015). In fact, President Lincoln codified the prison incarceration system in the Emancipation Proclamation that indicated no slavery would take place in America unless a person was duly convicted of a crime (paraphrased) (White, 2015). In this era prisons were used more as a place where criminals could be detained until their trial date if afforded such an opportunity. However, one of the main problems with this idea was the fact that the prisons were badly maintained, which resulted in many people contracting fatal diseases. Yet, according to White (2015) unethical and immoral medical experiments were also conducted on inmates’ leading to health failures. Moreover, because everyone was detained in the same prisons, adolescent offenders would have to share the same living space with adult felons, which became another serious problem in that adolescent were less mature and could not protect themselves in such environments
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