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NCJ Number: 91586 Find in a Library
Title: For the Good of All - The Progressive Tradition in Prison Reform (From Historical Approaches to Studying Crime - Workshop Papers, 1979)
Author(s): D J Rothman
Date Published: Unknown
Page Count: 24
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America

NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Although progressives in early 20th-century America believed it was possible and desirable to incapacitate and simultaneously rehabilitate offenders in prison, in practice custodial interests dominated to make the prison experience debilitating, pressing contemporary policymakers to search for alternatives to prison.
Abstract: Progressives viewed prisons as the ideal means of accomplishing the dual criminal justice goals of protecting society from criminal behavior and using a controlled environment to accomplish offender rehabilitation. The prison came to be viewed by progressives as similar to a hospital, where offenders would stay until they were cured of their behavioral maladies, thus leading to the concept of the indeterminate sentence, which would extend indefinitely in accordance with the offender's responsiveness to rehabilitative efforts. Whether because of the inadequacy of mandated funds to train and entice skilled personnel or because of the custodial requirements of managing a large number of persons with deviant attitudes and behavior, the visions of progressives for prisons have not been fulfilled. Instead, prisons have become brutalizing and dehumanizing institutions that aggravate rather than dispel criminal tendencies. An historical analysis of the impact of prisons suggests that incarceration sentences should be shortened and limited to overtly dangerous offenders. Further, a mainstream effort must be undertaken to experiment with alternatives to imprisonment.
Index Term(s): Correctional reform; Custody vs treatment conflict; Incarceration
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