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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 119081 Find in a Library
Title: Some Major Lessons To Be Learned From the History of Corrections (From Current International Trends in Corrections, P 12-26, 1988, David Biles, ed. -- See NCJ-119079)
Author(s): J Ellard
Date Published: 1988
Page Count: 15
Sponsoring Agency: Federation Press (Distributed by Gaunt)
Annandale, NSW 2038, Australia
Sale Source: Federation Press (Distributed by Gaunt)
71 Johnson Street
P.O. Box 45
Annandale, NSW 2038,
Type: Historical Overview
Language: English
Country: Australia
Annotation: The overall lesson of the history of corrections is that any advancement in corrections over the centuries has been achieved not by adding new practices but by abandoning old ones.
Abstract: Until the end of the 18th century, inflicting humiliation, torture, or death upon the offender was the cornerstone of corrections. It ceased to be the cornerstone because it ceased to work. One lesson to be learned from the history of corrections is that the more successful corrections policymakers believe themselves to be, the more likely that disaster is to follow. The penitentiary arrived because the model was already present in the bridewells and houses of industry, because transportation had become difficult, some had tired of butchery, and reformers wished to continue punishing those who deviated from the dominant morality. Lessons to be learned from the rise, failure, and persistence of the penitentiary are that it is an error to assume that what will motivate one group will necessarily motivate another; reform in itself is suspect; prisons exist to ensure the maintenance of a particular social structure; and a bad idea will persist so long as no one can think of a better one. Other major lessons to be learned from corrections are that "reform" is a salesman's word for change; changes are just as likely to be for the worse as for the better; it is prudent to distrust the person who believes he has all the answers; and correctional systems are the weapons of the ruling class. 38 references.
Main Term(s): History of corrections
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Corrections effectiveness; Corrections policies
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