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The History Of Correctional Systems

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Criminology
Wordcount: 4047 words Published: 5th May 2017

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The correctional system is an umbrella term referring to a range of mandates directly executed or administered by jurisdictional justice institutions, which entails the castigation, management, supervision and rehabilitation of convicted offenders. These mandates are often accomplished through incarceration, parole and probation, while prison presents the most popular correctional agency globally. The system is alternatively recognized as a penal system because it concerns a network of institutions that are the overseers of nation’s prisons, alongside community-based initiatives, such as parole as well as probation boards. The system is notably a subdivision of the state criminal justice department, which operates in coordination with the police, prosecutor alongside the judges. Countries throughout, but mainly in the Western world exhibit entities, correspondingly, of corrections and related services, or identically named departments. The paper aspires to present an exceptional research on the correctional system between Western and Asian countries, by providing a general overview, history, role of the department among other aspects. Before presenting ideal country models from the two continents; distinctively the US and Japanese correctional systems, followed by a discussion, and a summary of the entire paper.

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According to Haasenritter (2003) corrections also involve an academic discipline encompassing hypotheses, codes, and programs relating to its purpose. Its intellectual goals involve human resources training, administration, and the experiences of offenders, who are the uncooperative subjects of correctional practice. Conventionally, the process was reportedly recognized as penology, meaning the study of chastisement for crime. The terminology shift to “corrections” took place around the 1950s and 1960s, reportedly spurred by a prevailing ideology focusing on rehabilitation. This was coupled with concrete restructuring of practices in numerous correctional facilities or prisons. Such awarding increased privileges to prisoners, given an attempt to instill a communally inclined atmosphere, and progressively, many detention facilities became correctional agencies, while their administrators resumed the title correctional officers. A correctional facility is where arrested offenders are normally detained and denied a number of individual rights, or incarcerated in relation to the formal castigation, as ordered by the state to be executed by the justice agency.

The various conceptual but of analogous connotations with correctional facility involves penitentiary, remand and detention centre, along with jail, though in some jurisdictions some of the titles may pose distinct connotations. Suspected offenders who face criminal charges might be contained in detention facilities incase of bail denial, inability or reluctance to settle bail. A criminal advocate might also be detained while pending verdict, and if confirmed guilty, can face a custodial sentence obligating incarceration. Correctional facilities can occasionally be utilized as internment even to those who have not committed any offense, or as a political oppression tool to hold political convicts of principles, alongside “enemies of the state,” which is a common trend with totalitarian regimes as reported by Haasenritter (2003). A correctional facility notably involves institutional establishment and management of prisons.

Verdicts imposed upon criminals normally include probation, bail and incarceration among others such as transitional sanctions, which involves house arrest or communal service initiatives, and electronic supervision. Nonetheless, the application of sanctions that can either require compensation or castigation presents the foundation of all criminal phenomenon’s, besides the prime objectives of civic restraints, and suppression of offensive behavior. Most detention centers operating in the Western countries when compared to their Asian counterparts often adhere to distinctive correctional codes as suggested by Hill (2009). Even though usually profoundly tailored, these codes define the nature of the corrections facility plan as well as security operations. The two basic hypothesis applied contemporarily involves the conventionally inclined Remote Supervision alongside the modernly inclined direct administration models. With the conventional model, officers monitor the convicts from remote alienated positions such as towers or safe desk quarters, as the modern approach positions the agents within the correctional cells, thus ensuring a more direct presence.

History of the correctional system

History of the correctional system is normally divided into distinctive periods. The ancient correctional history is often recognized as the period between 2000 BC and 1800 AD. This period witnessed numerous correctional events ranging from primeval Babylonian and Sumerian theories, to the emergence of the penitentiary model in America. But between these two practices, other diverse codes and practices were witnessed, with extreme oppression of offenders dominating the conventional correction endeavors. Primarily, a change from lex salica to lex talionis practice was one of the key developments in the early correctional system. Lex salica refers to a form of vigilante rule or mob justice where the offended individual or group instigates vengeance, given the belief that crime perpetuators deserves to surfer for their crimes. This stance presents the first documented model of justice, and was later replaced with lex talionis. The lex talionis models concerns the changeover time when administrations adopted the vengeance business, under the notion that the jurisdiction “owns” offense as opposed to the victims or their relatives as noted by Unnithan (2000). Primarily, the lex talionis was exceptionally restricted to slaves as well as the less fortunate, but was progressively recognized as the main justice form.

Secondly, historical records also indicate a change from physical castigation to emotional reprimand across the ancient chronological era, with primeval discoveries revealing barbaric torture equipments that were reportedly applied to castigate inmates. However, the change from the empire system to state administration signaled more reliance on flogging or whipping for both Western and Asian nations. Moreover, the inclination to psychological castigation was grounded from religious codes, but mainly the belief in natural law, a common practice in the Ancient Western nations. According to O’Connor (2005), natural law regards a multifaceted theory, known as the ecclesiastical law that entailed the ceremonies together with rituals which, for instance, was used by the Church to translate Canon law. This implies that in the era, judicial practitioners had to pursue doctorates and be approved to serve as law experts, and such religious involvement in correctional procedures mainly assisted to reducing “arbitrary and capricious” state or jurisdictional practices. Nevertheless, the Age of Enlightenment that materialized over the Eighteenth Century ensured an even better acknowledgment of human dignity, and contributed to a drop in inmate torturing, as well as a shift and popularity of correctional emotional suffering.

The period also witnessed the abandonment of underground to aboveground correctional facilities. The most popularly known underground detention base was the Mamertime of Rome, which boosted an extensive structure of dungeons lying below the city’s sewage facility, linked to the surface through a large entranceway as suggested by Rhodes (2007). Historical documentation on the facility also covered crucifix signs that later became the symbol of the church. However, corporal punishment, such as body parts amputations and floggings was conventionally a popular Asian states practice as compared to the Western nations, though both regions reported prisoner torture, rapes, beatings, as well as execution. Death sentence in ancient days was considerably horrific, with the common approaches entailing fire lynching, stoning, beheading, disjointing of body parts through barbaric means, impaling, disemboweling, whipping and hanging.

However, incarceration as the “ideal” castigation practice only emerged after the domination of transportation along with penal slavery or servitude penalty practices. Transportation involved deportation to a far away land, while penal servitude concerned temporary leasing into slavery, given a specific period of time (Liang & Wilson, 2008). The practice became quite trendy with Spanish-administered territories, thus regarding Spain as the modern founders of the surface prisons known as the Spanish presidios with an 8×10 partitions, which gave birth to the contemporary correctional cells. Though, a modern description of a correctional facility requires solid doors, locks, walls, bars, as well as cells. Furthermore, a prison must have prison officers, guards, and taskmasters as well as cadre of attendants, to resourcefully implement a 24 hour control. Whereas the 1555 built London Bridewell became the correctional center in England, but Rome hosted the leading correctional designs that involved vast, multi-functional facilities with distinctive individual cells.

Comparing the correctional systems

Numerous distinctions exist between the Western and Asian prisons with comparison reports showing diversities between correctional facilities and practices. For many decades, inmates were been detained in dungeons, sewer detention hulks, concentration centers and in gulags, boot camps, unoccupied islands, as well as in penitentiaries as noted by Feldbaum et al (2011). Though forced incarceration represents the most popular aspect of corrections, various nations have indicated promising breakthroughs to establishing options to convict internship. As per the fifth UN Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems (SCTOCJS), the key components of the contemporary formal castigation involve life custody, physical torture, temporary sentencing, probation, bails, and communal programs. In most jurisdictions, serious felonies are avenged with correctional internship irrespective of legal practice or developmental level. However, prison incarceration tendency differ widely between the Western and Asian nations with the US, and Russia leading in confinement population, while India and Japan exhibit the lowest rates as noted by Geraci (2003). The inmate population has expanded in most Western countries with leading once ranging from Italy, Holland, France, England, Portugal and Germany, though other Asian countries have also reported overcrowding in correctional facilities.

In distinction with the US, which leads in punitive felony laws among the Western nations, Japan exhibits negligible correctional internship rates among the Asian nations (Smyer & Burbank, 2009). Over the last four decades, Japan has not witnessed prison congestion. With minimal misdemeanor level, few criminals are convicted, showing minimal dependency on the system as compared to other developed nations, thus inclining more towards monetary reimbursement and communal sentences (Haasenritter, 2003). Correctional verdicts are short term, not exceeding 20 months. Numerous aspects restrict detention in Japan, involving civic prosecutors and judges. Besides the fact that about 90 percent of suspects plead guilty accords the adjudicators better ruling discretion, with a 1996 correctional report noting that about 80 percent of the citizens and convicts as well trusted the system.

Human rights, regarding corrections, first emerged in the public domain around the 1970s towards the end of Chinese Cultural civil upheavals (Liang & Wilson, 2008). The US and Western Europe takes direct credit for prompting global human rights movements. Until currently, Asian states such as China as well as Indonesia were quite underdeveloped as compared to the West, for extensive focus to be awarded to human rights besides potential infringements of such rights. With negligible Indonesians and Chinese seeking asylum in the West, they never attracted attention and hence nominal focus was given to the two distance nation, and archipelago respectively. Until the 1970s when the West only became infatuated with their cultures as opposed to correctional human rights issues. Over the 1980s, Turkey appeared in the spotlight for detaining extensive population of political convicts, and reportedly made efforts to free political detainees by the end of the decade. Whereas in 1962, Myanmar, General Ne Win assumed the leadership of the former Burma.

Regardless of winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991, Aung San Suu Kyi the states leading activists has persisted to reside under house confinement, with extended oppression of opposition leaders in the country (Wu Zongxian, 2003). With espousal of numerous substantial accords to revere human rights, various Asian nations have exercised extensive political confinement, including China, Indonesia, India, Afghanistan, Burma, Iraq, Iran, and Israel, though other Western countries such as Soviet Union, Poland, Turkey, Greece, and Yugoslavia are also contemporarily guilty of violating human rights. As political offenders persists to prosper in the human rights age, usually as a result of economic, martial, and political associations between nations. Moreover currently, in advanced Western nations, there is insignificant industrious work for inmates, with the key basis being the disagreement of syndicate workforce and syndicate business to rivaling with penitentiary labor.

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As noted by Liang & Wilson (2008), the international judicial system is faced with the problem of legislating global correctional codes. Most nations have experienced correctional congestion challenges, thus forcing them to espouse initiatives to enhance capacity by establishing modern confinement centers or acquiring other firms for correctional purpose since building new facilities is an expensive endeavor. The US has witnessed what is commonly known as an “incarceration binge.” Starting from the 1980s to date, its federal courts recorded 10 times higher rate of sentencing as contrasted to Holland, with even a more descending ratio among other Western nations such the UK and France.

The US correctional system

According to Smyer & Burbank (2009), in the US, correctional system entails independent levels of confinement; collectively the county, or metropolitan administrated agencies that detain both locally suspected offenders as well as sentenced misdemeanants under a maximum of 12 months are known as jails, whereas prisons are state or federal correctional agencies hosting sentenced delinquents serving a minimum period of 12 months. At the national level or the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FBP) various departments involving Prison Camps, Correctional Institutions, along with the Penitentiary correctional intuitions are administered. With precise structuring of the system varying from county, state, and federal levels, the most common levels involve; supermax, administrative security, maximum, high, medium, close, security, low, minimum, and pre-release branches (Rhodes, 2007). Juvenile correctional centers are recognized as minor demeanor facilities and are specifically designed to hold pre-trial or convicted minors. While most Western and Asian countries have their distinctive justice approaches that can be used to make juveniles take accountability of their aggressive conducts. For instance, Canada may attempt to charge a minor as a grownup, and afterwards have him or her detained in a juvenile center until they surpass the age of eighteen, before being moved to an adult confinement setting.

The US correctional system further administers a unit within the military department that is specially meant for detaining war convicts, and illegitimate combatants, who are individuals considered to be of federal security threat (Haasenritter, 2008). Such prisons might occasionally be converted into the mainstream facilities such as the Alcatraz Island facility, which was a civil war detention base but was later changed to an ordinary prison. While it’s psychiatric facilities or the Federal Medical Centers (FMC) also exhibits a similar correctional structure, especially when detaining violent or aggressive patients. Additionally, most detention facilities have psychiatric quarters meant for confining delinquents diagnosed with a broad range of psychological impairments. The 2006, global estimation of inmates was at 9.25 million, however, the 2007 US reports on inmate population rated it as the leading with over 2 million convicts, taking an annual $37 billion of the federal funds to administer. This year, America’s inmate population was approximated to be above 2.3 million inmates, at an annual maintenance expense of $74 billion. Observers and experts have also agreed that the US correctional facilities are contemporarily over congested with individuals being convicted at an alarming rate, with failure to construct new facilities at a matching level.

Japanese correctional systems

According to Hill (2009), the Japanese Constitution particularly grants protection from torture as well as oppression, inhuman, or humiliating correctional practices, while its Penal Code bars infringements as well as brutality toward inmates under illegitimate examination. However, reports by numerous bar unions, human rights groups, alongside other inmates suggests that police and correctional wardens have occasionally applied corporal violence, such as beating, flogging, as well as emotional coercion, to acquire affirmations from defendants in confinement or to uphold discipline. Hence the civic confidence has witnessed a drop in trust, as accusations persisted to indicate that the law enforcers and public security unions have been hesitant or lax in following up claims of police delinquency. The Japanese Constitution as well as the Criminal Code entails guarantees to ascertain that no delinquency suspect is subjected to a self-incriminating acknowledgment, nor charged or penalized in verdicts where the sole proof against the defendant is his individual affirmation. The appellate panels have hence revoked some verdict currently on the basis of forced confessions. Confession is perceived as the initial step in the rehabilitative course, with the government pointing at the 90 percent of self confessions cases as the basis of positive standard of proof required to make judgment under its judicial system.

Corporal restraints, involving leather handcuffs, persists to be applied as a form of sentence. Around the sixteenth century, as a result of economical demands and challenges associated with extensive confinement, besides prevailing codes of vengeance that recommended for capital verdicts or asylum for severe offenders, life sentence was infrequent. By the Meiji era which ended in 1912, the state espoused Western-model penology among other ideal correctional practices as well as legal organization. In 1990 Japan’s correctional system admitted about 47,000 inmates, with an estimate of 46 percent being repeat convicts, which was later attributed to the prosecutor, courts, and police exceptional influence. Previously, the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations (FBA) among other human rights organization have faulted the correctional practices, with stress on stern restraint and compliance to excess rules. While female and minors are confined in distinctive facilities away from male adults, with pre-trial inmates also confined independently from convicted inmates, though, its immigration confinement facilities are up to recommended global standards as suggested by Geraci (2003).


Confinement has often been recognized as the foundation in a castigation structure that prioritizes retribution, prevention, rehabilitation and communal re-entry. Starting from the 18th century, Western countries have applied identical responses to delinquency challenges, with most of the ideals derived from a collective dedication democratic Enlightenment practices. Present reports also suggests that despite disparities in language, policies, culture, as well as customs, a substantial scope of comparison persist in the sentencing roles, processes, and the correctional choices that are currently prevalent between Western and Asian countries. However, the prevailing diversities in the sector between the two regions have been mainly influenced by religious beliefs, population, economical potency, and the magnitude of development. For instance, ancient Japan opted to exercise death penalty in order to restrain correctional maintenance expenses. One substitute of correctional approach that has currently gained significant popularity across the globe is the restorative justice, which involves giving the casualty as well as the society “whole again” by re-establishing things as they were previously before the perpetuation of the offense as reported by Haasenritter (2008).

In contrast, conventional noncustodial options have often involved bails, conditional or inconsistent confinement, probation, alongside work release. The main basic reprimands that are normally relied on to bar first-time offenders from confinement include probation among other models of communal supervision. Although, when aggression advances, civilians will fault the approach as being tolerant, thus community-tailored initiatives are perceived as remedial, as opposed to being punitive. According to Wu Zongxian (2003), the disproportion of current notions among regional policymakers regarding the bases of misdemeanor contributes to the clarification of the inconsistency in correctional trend and hypothesis between the Western and Asian nations.

For instance in the US, and UK, lawmakers have proposed that transgression is the consequence of individual resolutions made by the relevant offenders. By overlooking most components of other theories, the policymakers have ushered in the use of incapacitation, along with more restraining sentences to stifle unlawful activities. Suppressing transnational crime is the greatest challenge to modern law enforcement. Developed nations need to help their undeveloped counterparts with expertise and training, in order to curb international crime which is mainly popular in the form of drug and ammunition dealings, human smuggling, terrorism, monetary laundering, and cybercrime. Even though criminals have no recognition for laws, the criminal justice departments aspires to adhere to a set of laws stipulated to defend the due process liberties of the civilians as noted by Boghossian et al (2012).


Today, all jurisdictions require a correctional system, to particularly help with upholding the integrity of the constitution as well as to enhance its potency to defend the society. The presence of the system is also critical to upholding the notion that there exist stations where individuals can be isolated if found guilty of breaching the revered norms. The rationale suggests that corrections serve to defend the community, assist in distinguishing the confines of conduct, besides enlightening every civilian on what is legal and illegal within a state. Most prevailing correctional systems assert the twin objectives of social security and equal sentence. Public defense is ascertained by designing a well-administered set of rules, facilities, and principles that are corresponding to and conversant with the judicial personnel’s as well as the collective social requirements. Finally, fair vengeance is often achieved by deploying various corrective and punitive practices to condemned criminals that is presented in the form of humane protection, detention, and supervision.


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