History of Prisons
History of Prisons in the U.S. from colonial times to the present:
A truly American legal system was non-existed prior to the American Revolution (1775-83), a very loose English system was in place. This was one of the leading reasons for the American Revolution. The founding fathers took a broader view of the world, and of governing people. As the American Revolution ends, a very limited system of justice exists. Courts, punishments criminal codes varied widely from colony to colony. After many decades of experimentations in court decisions and legislation began to form a modern criminal justice system. The declaration of rights (1776, Virginia) was the model for the U.S Bill of Rights, this was added to the U.S. Constitution in 1791.
A good example of experimentation or the different colonies approach to crime and punishment. This would be the Quakers of Pennsylvania; their religious beliefs led them to incarceration verses execution. To this day the death penalty is still different from state to state, and from person to person. The Philadelphia Society for Alleviating the Miseries of Public Prisons (1787), this was the first prison reform attempts, rehabilitation over beatings. And a separation of prisoners in to four different categories, a system to help the criminals. So, society tries to evolve a more humane prison, although the rural jails were run poorly with a primitive setting. As early as 1794 Pennsylvania recognizes the difference between first degree murder(planned act to kill) and second degree murder, this starts the states legislatures to rethink different levels of punishment.
Decades later other states follow Pennsylvania’s enlighten view and reduce capital crimes. New York and Michigan stop or reduce the death penalty and public executions, follow by Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Prisons in that day where strict and all rules were adhered too, in contrast to today’s gang controlled prison yards....