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Week 4: Correctional Practices in Institutional Settings

April 4, 2021
Brenda I. Belcher

Week 4: Correctional Practices in Institutional Settings

In the late 1700s, the Quakers used the word penitentiary to refer to the first prison in the United States. In Latin, penitentiary means repentance. The Quakers intended prisons to be a place where serious criminal offenders could repent their sins through prayer, reflection, and solitude. While the contemporary prison system bears some resemblance to its historical counterpart, today’s prison system is much more complex, controversial, and challenging.

This week, you examine issues and challenges related to the contemporary prison system. You also consider how specific correctional practices can be applied to address those issues and challenges.

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Evaluate arguments for and against the use of supermax prisons
  • Apply best practices to address issues and challenges related to prison overcrowding
  • Analyze the ethical and legal issues related to the treatment of inmates
  • Recommend policy changes to reduce overcrowding and improve prison conditions
  • Analyze circumstances under which rehabilitation is effective and ineffective
  • Evaluate whether rehabilitation is worth the cost    

Learning Resources

Required Readings

Krisberg, B. A., Marchionna, S., & Hartney, C. J. (2018). American corrections: Concepts and controversies (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.Chapter 6, “Prisons” (pp. 120–153)American Corrections: Concepts and Controversies, 2nd Edition by Krisberg, B. A.; Marchionna, S.; Hartney, C. J. Copyright 2018 by SAGE Publications, Inc. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications, Inc. via the Copyright Clearance Center.
Stohr, M. K., & Walsh, A. (2017). Corrections: The essentials (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.Chapter 4, “Ethics and Corrections” (pp. 64–79)Corrections: The Essentials, 3rd Edition by Stohr, M. K.; Walsh, A. Copyright 2017 by SAGE Publications, Inc. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications, Inc via the Copyright Clearance Center.
Stohr, M. K., & Walsh, A. (2017). Corrections: The essentials (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.Chapter 6, “Jails and Detention Centers” (pp. 108–133)Corrections: The Essentials, 3rd Edition by Stohr, M. K.; Walsh, A. Copyright 2017 by SAGE Publications, Inc. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications, Inc via the Copyright Clearance Center.
Stohr, M. K., & Walsh, A. (2017). Corrections: The essentials (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.Chapter 15, “Correctional Programming and Treatment” (pp. 326–345)
Corrections: The Essentials, 3rd Edition by Stohr, M. K.; Walsh, A. Copyright 2017 by SAGE Publications, Inc. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications, Inc via the Copyright Clearance Center.
Andrews, M. (2015, September 30). Even in prison, health care often comes with a co-pay. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2015/09/30/444451967/even-in-prison-health-care-often-comes-with-a-copayFord, M. (2015, June 8). America’s largest mental hospital is a jail. The Atlantic. Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/06/americas-largest-mental-hospital-is-a-jail/395012/Helfgott, J. B. (2016). Prison-based cognitive behavioral treatment programs—A mechanism of panoptic control commentary on Jennifer A. Schlossberg’s (2015) Narratives and discursive discipline in prison: Rewriting personal histories through cognitive-behavioral programs. Journal of Theoretical & Philosophical Criminology, 8(2), 148–159.Kamarulzaman, A., Reid, S. E., Schwitters, A., Wiessing, L., El-Bassel, N., Dolan, K., . . . Altice, F. L. (2016). Prevention of transmission of HIV, hepatitis B virus, hepatitis C virus, and tuberculosis in prisoners. The Lancet, 388(10049), 1115–1126. Criminal Justice Case Studies: Corrections, Week 4 (PDF)

Required Media

Abrams, E. (2017, November). The human stories behind mass incarceration [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/eve_abrams_the_human_stories_behind_mass_incarceration


Discussion: Supermax Prisons

A supermax prison is a maximum-security facility that houses the most dangerous criminal offenders. Inmates such as Zacarias Moussaoui (9/11 attacks), Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Boston Marathon bomber), and Ted Kaczynski (Unabomber) are confined to small, concrete cells for 23 hours per day with very little human contact. Supporters of supermax prisons argue that extensive measures must be taken to punish and protect the public against the most violent and dangerous criminals. Critics argue that supermax prisons are too expensive to build and maintain and that conditions are inhumane.

In this Discussion, you will consider arguments for and against the use of supermax prisons.

By Day 3

Post a response that addresses the following:

Provide an argument for or against the use of supermax prisons. In your argument, be sure to consider the following issues related to the use of supermax prisons:

  • The safety of the public, prison employees, and the general inmate population
  • The control and order over inmates in the prisons
  • The conditions and punishments in the prisons
  • The rehabilitation of inmates, their successful reentry into the community, and their likelihood of recidivating
  • The costs of building and managing the prisons

By Day 5

Respond to at least two colleagues:

  • Choose a response that is different from your own.
  • Respectfully challenge or add to your colleague’s argument.    

Submission and Grading Information

Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:Week 4 Discussion Rubric

Post by Day 3 and Respond by Day 5

To participate in this Discussion:Week 4 Discussion


Assignment: Managing Prisons—Best Practices and Policy Reform

Prison administrators are responsible for protecting the public from criminal offenders, ensuring the safety of prison employees and inmates, and providing inmates with adequate shelter, food, and medical care. Meeting these responsibilities is difficult even without the added challenges of overcrowding, the spread of infectious diseases, and the proliferation of mental illness in prisons.

In the Learning Resources and Discussion this week, you examined some of the issues and challenges facing the contemporary prison system. For this Assignment, you will build on and demonstrate your learning in this area by applying best practices, guidelines, and reform initiatives to a case study about a prison in crisis.    

By Day 7

The warden has asked you to devise a plan to address the emerging issues and challenges described in the case study found in the document, Criminal Justice Case Studies: Corrections, Week 4.

Submit a 750- to 800-word plan that includes the following:

  • Explain the best practices you would implement, in the short-term, to address the issues and challenges described in the case study. (250–300 words)
  • Analyze ethical and legal issues/standards you would take into consideration before implementing your plan. (250 words)
  • Explain at least three significant policy changes you would recommend to reduce overcrowding and improve prison conditions in the long-term. (250 words)

Submission and Grading Information

To submit your completed Assignment for review and grading, do the following:

  • Please save your Assignment using the naming convention “WK4Assgn+last name+first initial.(extension)” as the name.
  • Click the Week 4 Assignment Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.
  • Click the Week 4 Assignment link. You will also be able to “View Rubric” for grading criteria from this area.
  • Next, from the Attach File area, click on the Browse My Computer button. Find the document you saved as “WK4Assgn+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.
  • If applicable: From the Plagiarism Tools area, click the checkbox for I agree to submit my paper(s) to the Global Reference Database.
  • Click on the Submit button to complete your submission.
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:Week 4 Assignment Rubric

Check Your Assignment Draft for Authenticity

To check your Assignment draft for authenticity:Submit your Week 4 Assignment draft and review the originality report.

Submit Your Assignment by Day 7

To submit your Assignment:Week 4 Assignment


Journal: Is Rehabilitation Worth It?

Can criminals be rehabilitated, or are they doomed to a life of crime? Are some types of offenders more likely to be rehabilitated than others? Are some types of treatment and rehabilitation programs more effective than others? Clearly, these are not easy questions to answer, but they do provide important insights into how the correctional system should operate.

In this Journal, you consider circumstances under which rehabilitation is effective and ineffective. You also examine whether the cost of rehabilitation is worth it.

By Day 7

Write a 300-word Journal response to the following prompts:

  • Under what circumstances is rehabilitation effective?
  • Under what circumstances is rehabilitation ineffective?
  • Is the cost of rehabilitation worth it? Why or why not?

Submission and Grading Information

To submit your completed Journal for review and grading, do the following:

  • Click the Week 4 Journal Rubric to review the Grading Criteria for the Assignment.
  • Click the Week 4 Journal link. 
  • Next, click Create Journal Link.
  • In the title box, enter the title of the Journal Entry. Please title it: WK4Journal+last name+first initial.
  • In the Entry Message box, type your Journal Entry or click Browse My Computer and select the document you saved as “WK4Journal+last name+first initial.(extension)” and click Open.
  • Click Post Entry.
Grading Criteria

To access your rubric:Week 4 Journal Rubric

Submit Your Journal by Day 7

To submit your Journal:Week 4 Journal


Week in Review

This week, you examined issues and challenges related to the contemporary prison system. You also considered how specific correctional practices can be applied to address those issues and challenges.

Next week, you explore community-based alternatives to incarceration, such as diversion, probation, and parole. You also consider issues and challenges related to offender reintegration into society.

Next Week

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