Contemporary Correctional Systems: Institutional and Community-Based Correction

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Course Number: CRIMLJUS 7630
Course Name: Contemporary Correctional Systems: Institutional and Community-Based Corrections (Online)
Course Description:    The course presents a study of the history, theory and practice of contemporary corrections. History will be used to frame and to help explain how certain practices evolved from a particular socio-economic context. The course is intended to encourage analytic thinking about how as a society we respond to legal violations. Students will review classic essays describing the social dynamics of punishment. Students will also examine factors contributing to the rise of reformatories, parole, and probation from the 1880's to the present, the emergence of the rehabilitative ideal, inmate adaptions to incarcerations, prison rights issues, the move to law and order or "get tough" on crime, and the culture of control since 1990's.
Prerequisites:    None
Level: Graduate
Credits: 3
Format: Online

Registration Instructions

NOTE: The information below is representative of the course and is subject to change.  The specific details of the course will be available in the Desire2Learn course instance for the course in which a student registers.

Additional Information

Learning Outcomes

The course presents a study of the history, theory and practice of contemporary corrections. History will be used to frame and to help explain how certain practices evolved from a particular socio-economic context. The course is intended to encourage analytic thinking about how as a society we respond to legal violations. We will review classic essays describing the social dynamics of punishment. We will also examine factors contributing to the rise of reformatories, parole, and probation from the 1880's to the present, the emergence of the rehabilitative ideal, inmate adaptations to incarceration, prison rights issues, the move to law and order or “get tough” on crime and the culture of control since the 1990's.

Spierenburg's discourse on the “spectacle of suffering” documents the transition in thinking about rule violations as a sin against an individual to a sin against the state. He traces the shift in responsibility for regulating violators through a punitive response from the victim or victim's family to the state. Rothman, in his account of the “invention” of the penitentiary, shows how confinement is transformed into an end in and of itself. Cullen describes a “penal harm movement” that sets forth a long-standing and timeless debate about the impact of contemporary “get tough” policies on the disproportionate or targeted control of ‘dangerous' or less vested social groups. The course examines the “penal harm” resulting from the ‘imprisonment binge', the decline of rehabilitation, the abolition or restricted use of parole and the ‘three strikes' legislation. Specific attention will be paid to systemic challenges posed by contemporary corrections (e.g., jail and prison overcrowding, conditions of confinement, etc.) and the relative effectiveness of various correctional strategies (i.e., incarceration, parole, intermediate punishments, restorative and therapeutic sanctions).

We will attempt to answer a number of basic questions concerning everyday life inside contemporary prisons. For example: Who actually goes to prison and why, and for how long? How do super-maximum, maximum, medium, and minimum security facilities differ? How important is effective management and leadership to the operation of an efficient and safe prison system? What are the inmate subcultures new arrivals are likely to face? How do male and female inmate subcultures differ? How do inmates cope with the pains of imprisonment such as the deprivations of freedom, goods, sex, and social status? How has inmate litigation and federal judicial involvement in the everyday affairs of state prisons and local jails changed correctional policy? What social services and educational or vocational training is actually available for inmates? Is rehabilitation possible? Are adequate reintegrative services provided, particularly for high-risk offenders?

Unit Descriptions

Unit 1
Lesson 1: The Role of Punishment in Society
Lesson 2: History of Punishment and the Origins of the Penitentiary
Lesson 3: The Role of Prisons in Society - The Imprisonment Binge
Lesson 4: Who Gets Convicted and Why?
Lesson 5: Prisonization and Problems Plaguing Jails and Prisons
Lesson 6: Group Project—Living and Working in Prisons

Unit 2
Lesson 7: Prison Administration and Inmate Management
Lesson 8: Prisons in Turmoil, Prison Litigation and Inmates' Rights
Lesson 9: Special Inmate Populations
Lesson 10: Death Penalty

Unit 3
Lesson 11: Reintegration and Reentry
Lesson 12: Community Corrections
Lesson 13: Concluding Remarks and New Directions
Lesson 14: The Juvenile Court, Juvenile Justice, and Young Offenders

Grading Information

The success of the course consists of extensive reading, written assignments, an essay exam and a final research paper. To achieve learning objectives, you will need to read assigned readings, review the commentary and draft abstracts & critiques. You will also be participating in discussions, where you will respond to a question and reply to your classmates. The questions are designed to frame the exchange of ideas and dialogue between you and your fellow classmates. The discussion area is always controversial, interesting and informative! The required readings and commentaries will provide you with the information needed to work through and complete the course requirements. Please refer to the lessons located within the content for specific reading assignments, discussion questions and related requirements for each lesson.

Assignments: Abstracts and Critiques
You will be required to post an abstract and critique on the assigned readings. The abstracts summarize the major points of the readings and the critiques reflect your critical perspective. There are guidelines for the assignments listed within the lesson content that will help you to synthesize and evaluate the readings. As a rule of thumb, each abstract and critique should average 2 to 3 pages with APA citations for all supporting evidence (e.g., from the readings and outside sources). Please develop your abstract and critique offline and then submit to the appropriate Dropbox. The grades you receive for your work in this part of the course will account for 25% of your final grade.

Discussion Forums
You will also be required to draft a response to discussions questions posed in the discussion area of the course. The discussion questions will require that you apply your reading-based knowledge in an exchange of ideas and dialogue between you and your fellow students. Be sure to respond to at least four other students' postings. The discussion area is always controversial, interesting and dynamic. The structured dialogue and exchange of ideas will account for 25% of your final grade.

Essay Exam
The third requirement is a late-term essay exam, which will be distributed one week before the due date that is provided in the Course Calendar. The essay exam will measure your ability to trace the historical origins of punitive and restorative practices, to critically evaluate their effectiveness, to identify key challenges to our correction systems and to propose a direction for the future. The exam account for 25% of your final grade.

Final Paper
The fourth requirement of the course is a term paper due on the date provided in the Course Calendar. The final paper will comprise 25% of the final grade. You will be expected to relate information from course commentaries, peer discussions, reading assignments and independent research from journals or books. This paper should make an historical argument or present a critical analysis of your selected topic and present well-defended and original interpretations of the subject. The paper must state a clear thesis statement, must document supporting evidence, present an original interpretation and close with a logical conclusion.

Grading Scale
Abstracts and Critiques 25% of grade
Discussion Questions 25% of grade
Essay Exam  25% of grade
Final Paper  25% of grade

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