The American correctional system is an extremely diverse amalgam of facilities, theories, techniques, and programs.It handles nearly 1.3 million offenders on an average day; it has 2.5 million admissions in the course of a year; and its annual operating budget is over a billion dollars. 1 Correctional operations are administered by Federal, State, county, and municipal governments.Some jurisdictions have developed strong programs for the control and rehabilitation of offenders. But most lack capacity to cope with the problems of preventing recidivism —the commission of further offenses. Some fail even to meet standards of humane treatment recognized for decades.
Corrections remains a world almost unknown to law-abiding citizens, and even those within it often know only their own particular corner. This report therefore begins with an outline of the system as it operates today, and a brief account of its development, as background for the presentation of the directions it must take in the future.
About three-quarters of those under custody or community treatment on an average day in 1965 were adults, the great bulk of them felons. One-third of all offenders (426,000) were in institutions; the remaining two-thirds (857,000) under supervision in the community.
Individual offenders differ strikingly. Some seem irrevocably committed to criminal careers; others subscribe to quite conventional values or are aimless and uncommitted to goals of any kind. Many are disturbed and frustrated boys and young men. Still others are alcoholics, narcotic addicts, victims of senility, or sex deviants.This diversity poses immense problems to correctional officials, for in most institutions or community treatment____________________