thumbnail of Prison document; Development of penal philosophy
Hide -
If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+
It is the judge of the law of the ranch. Would you be in the county courthouse the circuit judge sentences a convicted defendant within a few hours the former accused will become a convict a prisoner an inmate of a state penitentiary. What kind of institution will he enter. Under what conditions will he do. What will be done to or for him in your state. Will he be merely punished or will an attempt be made to understand him as an individual in need of help to find a partial answer to these questions. Questions to which the public is paid slight attention from earliest times a representative of the Florida State University visited state penal institutions throughout the United States. The result of these
visits is a prison document a series of radio programs in which the individuals involved from the governor to the lowliest prison or tell their own story it is because man has made spectacular advances in fields of science and engineering. It does not mean that his achievements have been equally significant in all fields. The criminology is done today for instance cannot take a happy view of progress in penal methods in colonial America the colonists employed the penal methods inherited from their English homeland. Torture and corporal punishment were inflicted for minor offenses. Death was usually given for felonies. Stocks pillory whipping post dunking stool branding mutilation. All of these are forms of punishment. Americans remember from high school history classes. Today's penal methods are generally less fearsome presidents if you got caught talking to master our.
After the bell rang. But because I live under the dome they might. Miss one fiber of thought for getting up that she could watch it for hours why he had allowed that for hours and it was supper time when you lost me. But that was an exception perhaps by the way did this happen in your state. It did happen in a state penitentiary not many months ago. That was the prisoner himself who told the story as we started to say we do not have a stocks the dunking stool branding and other forms of colonial torture in America today. They had holes I wouldn't get mad. When you clean. Just run down field or sell houses you get bread and water every day and you get a meal every three days. That was in a different state. Was it yours. Another exception.
I was accused of having a gun in the prison. How long were you in for myself. It was. About six to six in complete darkness. And of light our sound our shining you know me all the time. Yes yes. Did it have any effect on you when you came out did you have to abstain and came out. And I couldn't see. I overate and person I know my life and just today in America we don't brand prisoners. We don't have the pillory or the whipping post. They're for life. In my hand that's playing I mean it's tough because it brought them up pretty bad. I think I was 20. And how many legs do you get mice when I did this happen in your state.
The harm done by crime is caused by a comparatively small number of people but in harm is done by wrong methods of punishment. The whole community is answerable. It is therefore right that every member of the community should have the opportunity of knowing what is done in his name by those responsible for carrying out the methods of punishment provided by law. These words of the Right Honorable Herbert Morrison expressed succinctly the purpose of this series of programs prison document. It is in the administration of our criminal justice that we find many of the most acute problems of American Penology and it is with the administration of our criminal justice as it affects the adult male offender imprisoned in state penitentiaries. But prison document is concerned the stories you have just heard from the prisoners themselves tell an unpleasant side of our penal methods. However not all aspects of today's prison life are
as dismal as the punishment of inmates for infractions of prison rules. Yeah sure they would think that they are outstanding now. It used to be that a prisoner wouldn't be caught talking to me or to any of them if they did the other prayer he would read every now. I expect when I start back in there probably be a half a dead stop and tell people you're singing with a more friendly. They have gotten even tougher over the problem unless you are proud of being proud and saying that they wouldn't dream of killing in spite of instances of treatment of prisoners by guards. They are co-occur studio offices the most up to date institutions. We find but vengeance still motivates much of our basic penal law the public still vacillates between a desire to make well-adjusted citizens out of offenders
and a desire to make them pay dearly for their offenses. More than one majority on criminology firmly believes that although imprisonment may seem to be an advance over physical punishment inmates have very seldom been treated intelligently by wardens or guards. In visits to prisons our reporter found some evidence of poor inmate officer relations. While I was talking with a group of prisoners in a recreation yard one of them left the group and started to walk toward a small building nearby. Immediately the guard on the nearest tower started to yell and swear at the man telling him to get his blank so-and-so away from the building and get back to the group. Other prisoners told me that this was a common occurrence and that the same guard had served notice on one of them that if the prisoner did not cut out his blank swearing he would blank Well report them into the warden. The chaplain confirmed this and also told me that at least one guard at this institution was in the habit of bragging to outsiders about having killed two prisoners.
Underlying all of our penal treatment are the basic considerations by which we justify the measures employed. One theory justifies brutal and coercive treatment by rationalizing that society could act no differently under the circumstances. Other theories attempt to deal logically with criminals on the basis of their offenses. Still a lot of theories are concerned with helping the offender through redirecting his attitudes into a will to conform before attempting to understand our prisons. We should consider the present conflict in penal theory a real credo. A Filipina nom de guerre he would have said we were already Moti con crew member that I thought it had a very bad credit probably cracked back in me just sat here. Meaning Of course he barely passed it and I believe he now can be inactive a balance of one army against a private member with a savvy. It should be public good and
necessary. Police department all the cases proportionate to the crime and the permit by law in the 18th century because of the Italian scholar might have summarized his assumptions justifying punishment in those words. Credit is generally given to big aria for having established the classical school of Penology for a box the German classicist also add here to a belief in the establishment of punishment on the basis of the abstract crime. No punishment without long no crime without law but you'd better on and after that first but. 38 a goodish to stop her and elope with a country Korea and the north then declare it the old known to. Good appellate film that regarded the breaking of the law well probably ever a just punishment is a logical consequence based on the necessity of
preserving order. Every violation of the law. Must be a perceptible offense menacing to the order of the age old eye for an eye theory survives and many facets of present day criminal codes. And this theory is given philosophical refinement. It is called classical. Not merely because it has persisted from classical times but because it is based on the notion that the penalties are severe. People will fear the law and hence conform to the rules laid down. The opposing positive theory is based less on rationalism and takes the offender into consideration. The term positive is used in the sense of scientific or direct knowledge. The many variations of penal theories which have appeared are covered broadly by these two philosophies because Italians made the most significant early contributions to this theory. But terms positive school and a talian school were originally used
interchangeably. I'm recall FEIGHERY who died in 1929 was distinguished both as a jurist and for his interest in sociological theory. He had once served as chairman of a committee for the revision of the Italian penal code but his proposals were never implemented because of the rise of fascism. Among his most significant ideas a punishment was Perry's emphasis upon the social practice producing crime. And what he calls his penal substitutes. I must emphasize that there are many social factors which produce crime. We should do without Must with think Penno substitute. By this I mean we should plan to prevent crimes by removing social factors which precipitated this could be accomplished by the adoption of free trade by allowing or restricted immigration by lowering the tax rate on necessities ration it and
alcoholic drinks. We can substitute metal money for paper currency spread but we would control legalized egoists. We might prevent this heatwave which produced crime in the first place. Of all the Italian positivists. Theory seems to have been the most forward looking and the most scientific. For he aim to attack the crime at its source both classicist positivists were aiming at the promotion of Social Welfare of the group. They both agreed that punishment should serve society. It was a means to this and that they were so far apart. The classical idea still survives and much of our present day penal theory and the theory that a man is a free moral agent who exercises the capacity of choice and matters right are wrong. If a criminal is held responsible for his actions he must possess such a capacity. The positive school rejects this viewpoint by subscribing to the position that neither the crown nor the normal citizen has much
freedom of choice and his conduct if conduct is considered to be the resultant biological inheritance social environment and past experience. It is obviously foolish to punish a man for something for which he was not entirely responsible in succeeding programs of prison document which will visit state institutions representing classical positive penal theories. We will visit a camp prison and talk with custodial offices like this formidable honor squad working on the highway. I'd much rather have an honest and I don't give me any trouble. I know they seem to act like what if we get a lot of passion you know I've been in my squad now. You jumped off of my truck going in one afternoon we caught him in 45 minutes. I don't know if he'd go to way. And. Get it mind right. He had a
long time when he wouldn't anything in the world would get him out but you don't count. He wouldn't be happy that I couldn't. Do what he needed down he gained a confidential. Rationale to get big name like you know. Getting recommended. We'll talk with wardens and it is significant that in every penal institution visited by our reporter wardens cooperated fully seeming even to welcome the opportunity to tell the prison story to the public. This man for example with comments on pets. Know inmates and I have a lot to have at the institution for many reasons. Many years ago in a certain institution a prisoner was permitted to receive a pair of canaries at the present time the canary population at that particular institution is an accountant which leads to trouble some inmate stealing a. Pet from another one. We can identify him
and make up that have perhaps such as dark animals like that or rather perhaps in ourselves. It would not be sanitary and they would soon get out of control. I haven't mixed it with Captain Scott inside the institution and requested permission to. Have the authorized hospital and have I been forced to deny this as other inmates would then capture rabbits and other small animals and try to keep them for pets. It would not be practical nor desirable. In some states we found a discrepancy between officially stated policy and actual practice in some cases practice followed policy to check such matters which will talk with a man such as the state commissioner of Corrections we have a division of education in the Department of Correction with the director. And with. Not a full complement of teachers we have about 200 teachers. It's not enough it's a problem
because. Again the salary question we can't compete with teachers on the outside means we get teachers who. Have examinations for community teaching positions. Or for some other reason. Do not qualify. We have one very interesting development there certainly obvious. When you think about it this. Cooperative plan that I spoke of before Department of Labor and the Department of Corrections. The main functions of that body is to. Coordinate the training progress of the institution with the labor market needs outside and we have a high school regents diploma as distinguished from training for a recall of. Equipment. We found that a top executive level there was concern for a resolution of the confusion in penal methods to document this. We will hear from the governor.
Well as Governor my principal duties are direct duties in connection with our state's correctional institutions. Centered around my service as chairman of the Board which administers all state institutions. In our state the governor has no and dependent power of pardon but in this case also serves as chairman of a board charged with this responsibility. Personally I have not looked with favor upon using prison labor on our Public Highways. And I feel that way very strongly now. I think the impression made upon the public is a bad one and I doubt that proper rehabilitation programs can be carried on under such circumstances. I realize how about that having the prisoners engaged in some useful activity under proper conditions is preferable to having them behind bars. But I still think that we should provide for this occupation and offer them in other ways than working them on our highways.
Because the whole area of correction seemed to be in a state of flux after centuries of remaining almost static. We wondered if this were peculiar to the United States or whether this huge sting of prison reform was international. For some insight into this question we will hear from an authority on criminology in France. Generally speaking now with the easy when one thinks criminals welcome epically also thinks crazy that this was not always so. For many centuries the only use that was made of prison was to keep the suspect. They. Still could appear before they are judged to be by game condemned to the most usual punishment. That is Jacket auditioning which excluded you very simply Laila. All further education columns. In some countries. There exist. An institution which had many similarities with Britain the workhouse
with megatons who we have Didn't you look in those dives and we're going to get a great danger for the public peace. We are forced to work. It is only since the end of the 18th century that the current president has taken on its modern signification. Although the signification only out public gives it. And which can be expressed as follows. A man who has acted against the laws of society must. Take a prize. And this prize consists in a certain amount of guy increasing the head of a Scandinavian penal system will speak. For many years no crime in Norway has been decreasing. The daily evidence appears in population over all categories is between 200 and sixteen hundred. Of these number. More than three hundred and fifty are under remarked. About one hundred and
seventy are serving short prison sentences hailing payment of. About two hundred and fifty two a drunkard's and vagrancy sentenced to a period of detention in that way. Close about 50 are young offenders attending skewed and about 100 a mentally deficient person who are sentenced to security detention. For the remaining six to seven hundred serving prison sentences only about two hundred and fifty are sentenced to more than six months. The great majority are committed to a quite short term and the judge must impose sentences on men convicted of crime must attempt to use judgment in utilizing the prevailing system of correction. I don't understand how this is done we should listen to the opinions of a circuit judge in determining the sentence in any gaze of the factors to be considered. The probability of a repeating repeating of the crime or some
other crime by the individual. Second the. Deterrent effect upon others of the disposition that is made upon this case and. The fact that the disposition of this case may have upon community attitudes and in the sense. That if the average citizen does not recognize the fact that the law will punish those who commit crimes he is strongly inclined to take the law into his own hands when his personal affairs have been invaded his property damage to his person or members of his family has been injured and because prison document is an effort to organize information for the so-called average man. The individual who together with other individuals comprises the public which I hear an opinion of a randomly selected man in the street. I don't know seems to me that I waited. Too much who inspires reaction and
you know. I think. Primarily I think peace and some sort of course of training that will help him in his. Life when I get out again and get him situated in some. Job that I. Might prevent a lot of people. Back. You know. Bear in mind that all reporters stockpiled an amazing mass on the scene interviews and comments approximately two hundred twenty eight half hour tape recordings. These have been edited in order to condense documentary evidence on the single question. Where do our state prisons at the present time between the two extremes in penal theory and other words do our prisons exist to punish ma'am or to treat them. We find some of the most significant evidence in apparently random conversation. The prisoner is rarely aware of the current conflict in philosophies he knows that things are little better or a little worse than they used to be. He has
small interest in theory. His comments are directly personal. I am concerned such things as and those. Where when I want to take you to the building where they had a man. Later Leggett you want to put a shadow. Or a glass or two of milk. Say five years ago may help is a rarity. This is just. It's just like having something sweet actually been away from a long time can sell for he thinks about whether his clothes fit. When you and I go to nominate it and I've been to know what you do mostly take what you get penal philosophy is beyond the cam of men whose concern is for their immediate personal needs.
Well if you had to get out of the bathroom which there was no trick to playing there just a bucket in the front of the floor with a bucket on each end of the. Two bucket facility in the end if you had. He cannot focus his attention on administrative procedure when mail call is the big thing he looks forward to. And it kind of foreign policy don't get no letters you know. Neil makes kind of better the prisoner lives the end result of prison reform. It may be simply a matter of does he wear chains are does he not. Then you're taken into the back of. The chain which is the bad apple. Which in turn tactile bocce. Well with my. Change in bed and sleep he remembers details that have to do with fitting into the system it didn't look
like Why did they issue will you wear a tooth brush in the house. And yet even without exposure to the historical and philosophical approach to Penology he is sometimes surprisingly articulate on the needs of fellow prisoners. Yes we could use some schooling here we have quite a few that can't read or write. Victor I know that I read your letters. Consultant for prison document is Dr. Vernon Fox of the School of Social Welfare at Florida State University. Dr. Parks believes that improvement in penal matters will be achieved more quickly when the public is better informed concerning the latest thinking and progressive correctional method. The history of man's treatment of offenders has followed a steady trend from primary concern for the group and no concern for the individual. To a primary concern for the individual
as a member of the group. Prisons are fairly new. There are only about a hundred fifty years old long before prisons came into existence. Punishment far exceeded the magnitude of the offenses. Consequently when the ancient eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth philosophy was implemented it was a progressive step in the Christian era brought some humanitarianism but with pity and compassion rather than with understanding. The transportation era replaced the practices of mutilation but ended when the colonies became large enough to register a protest. If prisons were a progressive movement to prevent mutilation to reduce capital punishment and to eliminate transportation. Prisons began about 1771 in Belgium about
1773 in Connecticut. Soon after the beginnings of Prisons big carea introduced his classical school in which he said Let the punishment fit the crime. Which brought a balance between the group and the individual. Lambros Owen ferry in their positivistic school first turned the focus toward the individual and held that the sentence should fit the offender. Modern Psychiatry is being felt in corrections in the attempt to find a sentence or a commitment that best permits diagnosis and Therapy of the individual personality problems of which the crime is but a symptom. We are coming to realize that the problem prisons are trying to meet. It is but one phase of the broader problem of mental health.
The history of the development of treatment procedures in prisons. Are parallel to the history of the development of treatment procedures in mental hospitals. But they are just about a century behind. Prisons are making progress. The progress of thinking was crystallized in the resolutions of the American prison Congress in Cincinnati in 1870 almost 100 years ago. There are a few prisons today in which that thinking is implemented the philosophy and thinking must always preceded action. Although sometimes we wonder why philosophy and thinking has to precede action by so great a distance. The fact remains that. The professional associations representing those people who work in prisons have agreed in essence to the mental health and correctional approach to the offender. And are actively working to implement
that philosophy. In all the prisons in America. This has been a prison document a series of programs on the adult male in the state penitentiary. We have examined penal theories and given a preview of future programs in the series all references to actual persons and places have been purposely deleted. We are indebted to prison officials over the country and throughout the world. For their cooperation and enthusiasm for the project. It is our sincere hope that prison documents might provoke in each of you a desire to understand the philosophies and problems in the correctional department of your own state. Production has been by the staff of the FSU FM at Florida State University Tallahassee field recording by Thomas St.. Tape editing and engineering by Bill Ragsdale. Narration and production supervision by Roy play and present document has been produced and recorded
under a grant from the educational television and radio center and is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the n AB Radio Network.
Prison document
Development of penal philosophy
Producing Organization
Florida State University
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-rn30744c).
Episode Description
Traces the historical development of the concept of punishment for crime, establishes the current conflict in penal philosophy.
Series Description
A documentary series that examines prisons and their purposes.
Broadcast Date
Social Issues
Law Enforcement and Crime
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Engineer: Stone, Thomas
Engineer: Ragsdale, Bill
Narrator: Fleming, William
Producing Organization: Florida State University
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-11-1 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:29
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “Prison document; Development of penal philosophy,” 1958-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 23, 2024,
MLA: “Prison document; Development of penal philosophy.” 1958-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 23, 2024. <>.
APA: Prison document; Development of penal philosophy. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from