History of Distributive Justice in Prisons Essay

Submitted By nicolegalarza
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History of Distributive Justice in Prisons
Nicole Galarza
DeVry University

The fundamental value of a harmonious society is justice. Justice is basically the common sense of the common good or public goods of a certain community. A prison is a place where offenders are removed and detached from society because they have committed a petty or serious crime. Prisons have taken part in a huge role in our history. While at times we might not think about it, prisons are a huge reason why America isn’t in absolute disorder. Over the years prisons have grown to get to the level they are today. What was once an unsanitary, careless, and at times cruel prison is now a more sophisticated well developed correction center that is meant to shape the behavior and rehabilitate the offender.

History of Distributive Justice in Prisons From the ancient Greek to modern times, many theorists studied community, among whom Aristotle and Hegel have exerted the greatest influences upon the communitarian view of justice. The communitarian view of justice is grounded on community and maintains that any individual cannot exist outside a certain community, an individual’s identity and attributes are determined by their society, and are consequently social products. Personal decisions, especially in family situations are based on what the consequences are of the decisions. As a member of society, the consequences of decisions pose a greater impact. Because decisions have emotional impact on society as a whole, it suggests fairness in a community. Justice relates to the rights of individuals, groups, or society. The formation of justice is centered on moral understanding from a group, which signifies all those involved. Justice is either distributive or social. Distributive justice decides how benefits and burdens are distributed among society. The form of distributive justice is based on abilities and needs. Social justice emphases on the rights of the individuals, civil rights, and universal human rights; it classifies everyone as equal regardless of age, gender, religion, or economics.
Prisons starring role throughout history has also improved in many ways from the Penitentiary Era of 1790 to the Just Deserts Era of 1995. In the Penitentiary Era, the Quakers transformed the Walnut Street jail in to a more humanitarian response for deviance. It was a solitary system for the inmates which at times created more psychological instability within the inmates. The development of many penitentiaries brought the Mass Prison Era of 1825 which resulted in changes to the solitary system. The system was still run silently and the inmates had different labor responsibilities to carry out. In this era corporal punishment and hard labor was always allowed. Fast forward almost 100 years and we come to the Treatment Era 1945 (Peak, 2012). Here rehabilitation was the philosophy. Education, training, and therapy were provided as well as different treatments like sensory deprivation. In this era it was thought that illness could be treated with counseling, education, and mental health therapies. Now let’s speed up to 1995 which is the Just Desserts Era where zero lenience comes into play. America decided to get tough on crime and give tough punishments out which led to the overcrowding issues we have. In this era the philosophy was retribution, rehabilitation, and deterrence. Justice is the main goal of this era. These are only a few of the different types of eras we have evolved from and there’s definitely are going to be more to come as years go by.
Both state and federal prisons as well as jails might be very different but they also share many similarities. They house inmates and there for must deal with them in many similar ways. So how do these three different facilities house so many different individuals with different needs? Well they separate the offenders into different security levels. Minimum security facilities typically house