Theoretical Foundations of Correctional System
Fully discuss the theoretical and legal foundations of the American correctional system. Your discussion should include applicable amendments, case law, and criminological theory.

Theoretical Foundations of Correctional System
The correction system of the United States was founded based on the social context of the punishment of criminal behavior. However, the legal and theoretical foundation of the correctional system has been under changes due to different applicable amendments, case laws, and criminological theories. This paper provides a discussion of some of the amendments, case laws, and criminological theories that are considered as the foundation of the American correctional system.
The traditional American approach to correctional system depended focused on the power and strength of the police force without much emphasis on the improved corrections. The current American correctional system depends much on the amendments that occurred in the constitution regarding how the processes in the correctional system should be conducted. The amendments were necessary due to the rising costs of processing recidivists, the high economic loss for victims, and rise of community insecurity due to high social costs of physical injuries for the individual going through the criminal justice system (Justia, 2019). However, during the 1960s and early1970s, the American correctional system provided a turning point that was propelled by the civil rights movement to incorporate amendments to the constitution in the protection of prisoners. Through the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act that was enacted by the Congress, the Supreme Court was able to determine the rights of prisoners to access courts. In the case of Bounds v. Smith, the Supreme Court established that the states should be obliged to ensuring that prisoners were able to access the courts through the assistance of the prison officials (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016). However, the Lewis v. Casey case, the Supreme Court provided that the prisoner’s access to the court should not go beyond habeas corpus and civil rights actions; the provisions still stands as the law in the current criminal justice system.
The other important amendment that provides a foundation of the current American correctional system is the first amendment. The Constitution of the United States provides its people freedom of speech, press, religion, and the rights to assemble and petition for the government. However, these rights were not served in the correctional institutions. In the 1974 case of Procunier v. Martinez, the Supreme Court affirmed that prisoners are not ultimately foreclosed from enjoying their First Amendment rights to speech. The Court provided that regulations to regulate communication in prisons would base on two factors. The first is that any restriction to communication should be justified as a necessity of maintaining security or substantial government interest, and second that rules cannot stop communication between inmates any more than is necessary to protect interests of the government.
In the U.S. Constitution amendment XIV, §1, which provided due process to all citizens was a foundation to rights to due processes in the disciplinary proceedings of inmates. In the seminal case, Wolff v. McDonnell, the Supreme Court decided that prisoners also have a guarantee provided in the Fourth Amendment. Some of the rights that were stipulated by the Supreme Court that states should provide to the inmates include the right to be informed and notified the charges against them in time before the hearing process, the rights to avail witnesses in their hearings, the right for assistance in defense presentation, and the right to an unbiased verdict maker.
The Supreme Court provided a foundation on how prisoners in the American correctional system should be free from cruel and unusual punishment. In Estelle v. Gamble (1976), the Supreme Court expanded the Eight Amendment to recognize the condition in which the punishment should be conducted siting that it should not be cruel and unusual punishment including those that have unnecessary and wanton infliction of pain (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016). The Supreme Court also provided rights of probationers and parolees in Morrissey v. Brewer (1972), which included parolee’s rights such as the right to be notified of the preliminary hearing, and right to attend the preliminary hearing. They also have the right to analysis adverse witnesses, right to an unbiased decision maker, and the right to access a written statement of evidence used in revoking parole.
Different criminological theories provided a foundation for the American correctional system. Some of these theories include the rational choice theory. The theory principles provide that most offenders are normal-reasoning individuals that accept the mentally ill. Therefore, a normal individual should be able to think the different means available if a certain action is conducted and be able to weigh the benefits of each action (Burke, 2009). The rational choice theory provides that it is impossible to calculate prior causes, antecedents, and structures; hence, the correctional system should always consider the circumstance in which an individual was subjected to and the available choices. Another theory is the punishment theory, which mostly is associated with the correctional policy. The punishment theory is a foundation of the four correctional goals of correctional. The first goal is deterrence that is formalized based on the fear of punishment, eliminating the undesirable behavior. The second goal of punishment theory is incapacitation, which considers the notion of locking up offenders in a secure environment as a mean of preventing them from victimizing other citizens (Lumen, n.d). Rehabilitation is another goal of the theory, which seeks to help offenders to become noncriminal and productive individuals in the community. Lastly, the retribution goal, which also suites the doctrine of proportionality, provide that offenders should be punished based on the offense.
The amendments, the Supreme Court decisions in cases regarding amendments, and the criminological theories have played a major role in shaping how the current American correctional system operates. There are more rights for prisoners and other offenders, more options in terms of punishments, and improved rehabilitation programs such as drug treatment, educational, and anger management both channeled in helping offenders in prisons and outside prisons.
Burke, R. (2009). An Introduction to Criminological Theory. Third edition, Willan Publishing. Retrieved from
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (2016). Prisoners’ Rights. Retrieved from
Justia. (2019). Prisons and Punishment. Retrieved from
Lumen. (n.d). Criminal Justice: Theories of Punishment. Retrieved from

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