2. Until the last decade of the nineteenth century, the federal government had no prisons of its own.
Federal offenders were confined in state prisons. The first federal prison was originally established
at Rock Island Arsenal, Illinois. Congress shifted the facility to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in May
1874. On 1 July 1895, the Department of Justice took over the military prison at Fort Leavenworth,
Kansas. The second federal prison was opened and occupied in Atlanta, Georgia in 1902.
3. From 1904 to 1935, the population of state prisons increased by 140 percent, so that by 1935,
there were more than 126,200 inmates in state prisons and reformatories. To meet this great
increase, old facilities were expanded and 11 new state prisons were built.
4. Federal institutions were also subjected to population pressures. In 1925, Congress authorized
the construction of two reformatories, one for women in Alderson, West Virginia, and the other for
men in Chillicothe, Ohio. In 1930, Congress created the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and Sanford
Bates became its first director.
5. As the prisons continued to adopt the reformatory philosophy, though few of its practices, the
reformatories began to resemble prisons more and more. The program in almost every prison
during this period was custodial, punitive, and industrial. The adoption of cellular confinement had
largely eliminated the plan for classification and moral instruction, which had been characteristic of
the American prisons prior to 1900. Noncommunication, which was the goal for both the
Pennsylvania and Auburn System, vanished with the development of prison industries in congregate
workshops. Thus, except for changes in housing, imprisonment for the vast majority of inmates
during this period became what it was 100 years earlier. Meanwhile, decline in the enthusiasm for
the reformatory program and the necessity of keeping prisoners employed to prevent trouble and to
help pay expenses, made industry the mainstay of the penitentiary system.
6. Under the combined pressures of organized labor, public opinion, and restrictive legislation,
prisoners were forced to modify their industrial programs. The Hawn-Cooper Act of 1929 and the
Ashurst-Sumners Act of 1935 are two examples of restrictive legislation. After the decline of
prison industries, the casework method was stressed in American penology.
It is often said that the true course of history does not run smooth. This is certainly true about the
development of the modern American penal system. Attempts have been made for the better part of
the last 200 years to develop prisons as agencies of moral instruction, as educational institutions,
and finally as industrial centers. In each instance, the attempt failed for a variety of reasons.
The pattern of what would seem to be repeated failures in the American penal system should not
give rise to defeatism. Nor should temporary setbacks, to include patterns of riot and disorder,
cause us to write off the American penal system as an utter failure and prompt a great outcry for a
return to something like the Pennsylvania System. Just as crime is a complex problem with a
variety of root causes and manifestations, so too is penology a complex field.
Many of the concepts covered in this lesson are embodied in Army regulations and doctrine, which
promote the uniform application of procedures and methods that can be used to either restore the
convicted Soldier to duty or return him to society as a useful and productive member.