Correctional Agencies

The earliest correctional agencies in the Western world developed almost 900 years ago when King Henry II of England built county jails for the temporary detention of debtors and those who had committed minor offenses. In the 15th century, houses of corrections or workhouses (another English innovation) were aimed at forcing the idle poor (i.e., vagrants, beggars, and delinquents) to work off debts while in confinement. The English also used prison hulks, or decommissioned Navy ships, to house convicts while floating at anchor in the Thames River.

In the United States, the first correctional agencies, county jails, developed in the 17th century. In 1818, the Pennsylvania legislature authorized construction of two new prisons, the Western Penitentiary near Pittsburgh and the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. The ...

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