The phrase originates from the Pennsylvania Quakers’ belief in penitence and self-examination as a means of attaining salvation. The very first American penitentiary was the Walnut Street Jail, created in Philadelphia. The structural pattern of outdoor cells, soon became the leading architectural feature of prison construction and together with the central corridor, was introduced at Walnut Street Jail. Walnut Street Jail was also the place where solitary confinement was permanently established as a way of fighting crime.
The brand new prison system operated on the principles of reform. Prisoners were segregated according to age, gender, and also the kind of offense committed. More than 200 years ago, this progressive way of reform was put in place. Since then, we have built countless penitentiaries. And those prisons have been filled by us more quickly than we can construct them. Our technology has improved at lightning speed. Our approaches of rehabilitation have not.
Does prison reform work? We need look no further than a few data to be aware of the answer is definitely not. Based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics, of the 272,111 prisoners released from prisons in 15 states in 1994, an estimated 67.5% were re-arrested within 3 years.
Prison reform has truly become an oxymoron. Most prisons are a place of brutality. Inmates live in a world of violence. The first-time petty criminals and drug addicts are tossed in with the hard-core murderers and rapists. Whether they were violent to start with, they must become violent to live. Just how can we anticipate reform given these states?