For centuries, people have had different views about how criminals should be treated. In this course, we will look at how the correctional system functions by examining the purpose of corrections; we will also examine criminal justice and corrections as a system in itself. There are three dominant perspectives in corrections – reform, repression and sociological. What does each one mean? How do they affect correctional officers' decisions and attitudes? This course will also examine what individuals are in the prison system as well as discuss the many challenges corrections professionals face on a daily basis.
From Vengeance to Reform: An Historical Perspective
Thousands of years ago, the ancient Greeks and Romans took the law into their own hands -- punishing criminals as they saw fit. Eventually, societies and the justice system evolved, and instead of getting revenge on their own, people turned to the law. In this course, we will look at legal codes from the ancient world and examine if any of their philosophies have carried over into today's system. What is the relationship between social contexts and the justifications for punishment through various means necessary?
The Development of Corrections in the United States
How has corrections developed in the United States over time? Is the prison system really that much different now than it was back during Colonial times? This course will look at large penitentiaries such as Sing Sing and the Auburn prison -- which implemented a silent system back in the 1800s. We will also compare rehabilitation, punishment of women and geographic differences, as well.
The Punishment of Offenders
Retribution -- the original goal of punishment -- remains the primary goal for many today. While some people want only the worst for the individual who did them wrong, many people believe all humans have the ability to change and to better themselves. We will discuss retribution as well as examine the different forms of punishment -- diversionary programs, fines, probation, intermediate sanctions, confinement in jail, incarceration in state or federal prison and the most serious punishment, the death penalty.
This course provides an overview of the historical and social contexts of the American correctional system, including a historical perspective, the development of corrections in the United States, the role of imprisonment in its development and the punishment of the offenders.
By the end of this course you will know that the question of how criminals should be treated has been at the heart of prison reform for decades. Further, you will learn about how the use of public executions in many early societies was intended to deter future criminal acts.
You will also understand that the Pennsylvania penitence model believed isolation was beneficial in reforming the prisoner, however, community-based corrections were the most influential developments in the twentieth century. Initially, retribution was the original goal of punishment. Today, many believe it is still the goal. You will also learn that forms of punishment vary within jurisdictions. Included are different diversion programs, imposed fines, suspended sentencing through probation, local jail incarceration, incarceration in state or federal institutions, and, ultimately, the death penalty. Sentencing structure varies throughout the United States and indeterminate sentencing is practiced in over 30 states.