Correctional Agencies

Sentencing philosophies and models are created by legislatures and imposed by courts. However, it falls to correctional agencies to administer the punishment defined by legislatures and imposed by courts. In your initial post, discuss the impact that changing sentencing philosophies and models have had on correctional agencies over the past 50 years. As part of your discussion identify at least one sentencing philosophy and/or model that you believe has had the greatest impact on the way correctional agencies administer punishment. As part of your response explain why you believe the selected sentencing philosophy and/or model had the greatest impact on corrections.


Over the past 50 years, changing sentencing philosophies and models have significantly impacted correctional agencies, shaping how punishment is administered and influencing the broader criminal justice system. One prominent sentencing philosophy that has had a substantial impact is the shift from rehabilitative to punitive approaches.

Historically, the rehabilitative model dominated correctional practices, emphasizing the rehabilitation and reintegration of offenders into society. However, starting in the late 20th century, there was a notable shift towards punitive sentencing philosophies, particularly in response to rising crime rates and public demand for harsher punishment. This shift led to the implementation of mandatory minimum sentences, three-strikes laws, and the expansion of incarceration as the primary means of punishment.

One sentencing philosophy that has had a profound impact on correctional agencies is the “tough on crime” approach, characterized by mandatory sentencing guidelines and a focus on deterrence and incapacitation rather than rehabilitation. This philosophy gained traction during the 1980s and 1990s, fueled by concerns about rising crime rates and public safety.

The adoption of mandatory minimum sentences and harsher penalties for certain offenses resulted in a dramatic increase in the prison population, leading to overcrowding and strains on correctional resources. Correctional agencies were forced to adapt to the influx of inmates, resulting in changes to facility management, staffing, and programming.

Additionally, the “tough on crime” approach contributed to disparities in sentencing, particularly among minority and low-income communities, exacerbating issues of social inequality within the criminal justice system.

Overall, the shift towards punitive sentencing philosophies, such as the “tough on crime” approach, has had a profound impact on correctional agencies by increasing the demand for incarceration and fundamentally altering the goals and practices of punishment. This shift has challenged correctional agencies to balance the demands of public safety with the need for effective rehabilitation and reintegration programs, highlighting the complexities and challenges inherent in administering punishment within the criminal justice system.

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