A penitentiary can be defined as a correctional institution for those convicted of major crimes. During the 20th century, I feel there are a lot of changes made such as probation, parole, better living conditions, medical treatment and rehabilitation that were considered significant changes as well. But the two significant changes I will discuss are solitary confinement and the removal of female prisoners from the male prisoners. Solitary confinement can be defined as the isolation of prisoners from other prisoners. In 1913 Eastern State officially abandoned solitary confinement, although convicts had unofficially been in contact with each other since the end of the Civil War.
Prior to 1837, women criminals were housed in the same facilities as males. The reason being there were very few women criminals and it cost less than building a different facility. Between 1873 and 1940, seventeen prisons were built for women.
According to Foster (2006) one of the biggest changes to the penitentiary system was the demise of the industrial prison system and the realization and importance of rehabilitation as a main purpose of sending someone to prison. Rehabilitation is the restoration of someone to a useful place in society. Rehabilitation and medical model offered an unprecedented number of programs designed to change the behavior of men and women in prison, turning lawbreaking behavior into law-abiding behavior.
Another significant change in prisons is the fact that prisons are no longer just a penitentiary where they lock people up until they serve their time, but we are now looking and utilizing rehabilitation more. Rehabilitation is a good deterrence in having prisons become a revolving door.