American Correction Eras: Criminal Justice Studies

american-corrections_1470728 (2)“If a dad does his job, we don’t need prisons, we don’t need jails. That’s what I saw growing up.” – Mike Singletary, NFL Linebacker, Pro Football Hall of Fame

There are several recognize eras in American correctional development. Three (3) of the most influential eras in the development of American corrections are presented but please note these are not the only eras associated with corrections in America. Even today, the American prison system is undergoing consent change, and part of this change involves privatization of prisons, female prisoner issues, and the mental health care problems facing corrections (ACA, 2015).

6636777-M (2)The Jacksonian Era occurred during 1820-1850 in the United States (ACA, 2015). During the Jacksonian era new penitentiary construction occurred in America on a wide scale as a way to control crime using rehabilitative labor as the formula and punishment for convicted criminals in an effort to change their behaviors (ACA, 2015).

downloadThe Progressive Era in American corrections spanned from the 1870-1920 (ACA, 2015). This era of social evolution brought about the use of parole and probation as a way to apply social science interventions into rehabilitation and guiding offenders away from criminal behavior (ACA, 2015).

slide_16 (2)The Just Deserts Era in American corrections started in 1995 and continues to this day (ACA, 2015). This era is a return to the original concept of incarceration from society as punishment (ACA, 2015). With political pressure to reduce the crime rates, states have passed sentencing laws for mandatory longer sentencing and reduced parolee eligibility (ACA, 2015). These new approaches to preventing repeat offenders is causing overcrowding conditions in prisons (ACA, 2015). Many critics of this correctional era are calling for criminal justice reform from this philosophy of punishment because it is causing unsafe conditions in prison (ACA, 2015). Prisoners are being released back into society without the skills to be successful in a technology global economy with no hope of staying away from the criminal behaviors that brought them into the criminal justice system.


American Correctional Association (ACA). (2015). Correctional history. Retrieved from

About the Author

Mark Bond

Mark Bond has worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms instructor for more than 33 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in criminal justice, and M.Ed in educational leadership with Summa Cum Laude honors. As a lifelong learner, he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education (EdD) with a concentration in college teaching and learning. Mark is currently an assistant professor of criminal justice at a university and adjunct professor of administration of justice studies at a community college.