Moral Reformation in Penitentiaries Past, Present and Future
Hayes, Sam. “Moral Reformation in Penitentiaries Past, Present and Future”. MA, Boston College, 2017. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:107404.
There are many urgent issues facing prisons in the United States today including overcrowding, inmate violence, sentencing concerns and cost. Some communities are using faith-based moral rehabilitation programs in prisons to address these issues and attempt to reform convicts in body and soul. These efforts, exemplified by Louisiana State Penitentiary’s moral rehabilitation program, have clear benefits for reducing in-prison violence and state costs, but they have also garnered ample criticism due to their use of religion in state facilities, the preferential treatment of some prisoners, unclear evidence of moral reformation and claims of abuse. This study looks at modern moral rehabilitation programs and compares them to the early 19th century American penitentiaries, which had similar goals of moral improvement. By examining the function, advantages and disadvantages of these modern moral programs and comparing them to the history of early American penitentiaries; the functions and flaws of the Pennsylvania and Auburn Systems; and Gustave de Beaumont and Alexis de Tocqueville’s analysis and criticism of the penitentiaries in their book On the Penitentiary System…; this study recommends the changes necessary to maintain the beneficial and laudable aspects of today’s moral rehabilitation programs while addressing the criticisms and questions over this form of punishment. The conclusion is the recommendation of a reformed, less religious moral program with six components: incarceration, a strong community citizenship for inmates, education and mentoring, labor, a limited component of religion with the possibility of radical moral transformation, and certain punishment through solitary confinement.