Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and Chain Gangs: Social by M. Colvin

By M. Colvin

The very definition of punishment in the US has been topic to a number of alterations, and has served because the foundation for a lot debate over the process America's background. In Penitentiaries, Reformatories, Chain Gangs , Mark Colvin tackles the topic of penal swap in the US by way of interpreting 3 case reports which signify shifts within the interpretation of punishment particularly in the course of the 19th century: the increase of penitentiaries within the Northeast; the alterations within the therapy of girls offenders within the North; and the transformation of punishment within the South after the Civil warfare. Colvin makes use of those case reports to use 4 theoretical reasons of penal switch, laying off gentle on either the heritage of penal authority and the present country of the approach this day. An engrossing and hugely proper quantity, Penitentiaries, Reformatories, Chain Gangs is a accomplished research of punishment and its that means prior and current.

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Additional resources for Penitentiaries, Reformatories, and Chain Gangs: Social Theory and the History of Punishment in Nineteenth Century America

Example text

As Francis T. Cullen and Karen E. Gilbert (1982) argue, the Left helped to bring into disrepute the idea of rehabilitation by presenting it as a fraud. The next step, determining what would be used to replace this goal of prisons, was taken up not by the Left, but by the Right, who pushed successfully for “get tough” policies that made prisons more oppressive than before. Stripping the “ideological gloss” off rehabilitation programs did not end the disciplinary regime. Technologies of power have, in fact, been enhanced; the obstacle of humanitarian concern, which informed the rehabilitative ideal, impedes their efficient use to a much lesser extent today than in the past.

This situation soon created political insurgency and armed rebellion. Shays’ Rebellion in western Massachusetts in 1786-87 and the Whiskey Rebellion in western Pennsylvania and Kentucky in 1794 were related to rural farmers’ defiance of state and federal authorities who backed the attempts by private creditors and public tax collectors to seize land or money. These uprisings, along with labor resistance, the spread of radical democratic sentiments among the common people, and the perception that crime was out of control, led to a general fear among elites that society itself was coming unglued.

The interior’s subsistence culture adhered to “the moral ideal of ‘virtue’—in public a sacrifice to the commonweal, in private an ethic of hard work and middling prosperity,” which “mitigated against the greed and selfinterest of economic man” (Watts 1987: 9). This subsistence culture shaped criminal punishment in the colonial era prior to the development of the penitentiary. Punishment in the Colonial Period Judicial matters in the colonial period were handled almost entirely by local magistrates, who were laymen from the community, not professional lawyers or officers of the state.

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